The most popular
colours of motor vehicles
Black and white are most common followed by shades of grey and silver
By Byron Toben
September 8, 2022
Back in 1956, Frank Loesser’s Broadway musical, The Most Happy Fella included the song Standing on the Corner, Watching all the Girls Go By (later a record hit by The Four Lads). That song came to mind recently as I was sitting in a bus shelter, watching all the cars go by.
I was struck by how so many were painted black or white or their mixtures of grey or silver. There were a few reds or blues and one brown. Yellow was limited to school buses.
After decades of a wider range of colours – even purple, orange or gold – black has been re-established as the dominant colour in Canada, closely followed by white.
In the early days of auto mass production, Henry Ford famously declared he would only paint his popular model T black. (Turns out it was the cheapest and fastest drying, perfect for the assembly line.)
After decades of a wider range of colours – even purple, orange or gold – black has been re-established as the dominant colour in Canada, closely followed by white. (Seems to me less safe colours in our wintry climate when blending in with snow and storm).
The Internet is alive with a number of articles on automobile colour preferences. Canadian sales are akin to U.S. studies, although one such griped that U.S. consumers were currently limited to five choices, whereas lucky Canadians had 35 choices. No evidence of that for me, while sitting in my corner shelter. Or maybe Quebec is pas comme les autres in auto colourization as well? It should be noted that there are local variations in studies, not only by province, rural vs. urban, and car type – sedan, convertible, van and so forth – not to mention individual quirks. My father owned a series of blue Buicks, so I am pre-disposed toward blue.
My bus shelter faces the Montreal city bus 66 route, which brings to mind the 1946 jazz classic about cars and music, Bobby Troup’s Get Your Kicks on Route 66. Bobby and his wife set out in their 1941 car from Chicago to Los Angeles to pursue a music career there, listing the cities driven through en route. The song of that trip became a hit when recorded by Nat “King” Cole, and soon covered by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, and later by the Rolling Stones (1964) in their debut album, the Manhattan Transfer (1982) and Chuck Berry in the Disney Animated film Cars (2006). Talk about compositions with “legs”!
The 1970s mega-hit rock band The Eagles‘ 1972 hit, Take It Easy, had a verse “Standing on a Corner in Winslow”, Arizona, which was immortalized when U.S. 66, which passed through that town, was the victim of a new super highway. To attract business back, the town set up a statue of a young man standing on a corner near a museum window with a replica red van wheeled by a mock lady.
Here are The Four Lads singing Standing on the Corner, Watching all the Girls Go By.
Here’s a video on Winslow, Arizona featuring The Eagles’ Take It Easy.
Readers are invited to state their colour preferences.
Feature image: Pixabay
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.