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Retro car colours: Is brown the new black?


Thought beige, brown, gold and yellow cars were confined to the 70s? Think again. Retro colours are making a comeback.

Austin Allegro

If you are in your 40s or older you’ll remember the 1970s.

You will undoubtedly recall the flares and kipper ties that went with the decade.

But there was something far worse about that period of time in Britain: car colours.

The decade that taste forgot

Well, they say fashion is cyclical and, believe it or not, shades from the decade that taste forgot are back en vogue. 

According to research by car valuation experts CAP Automotive, there is a resurgence of interest among consumers in paint jobs that have been baulked at in the mainstream motor market for years.

The colour charts are typically dominated by the usual suspects of silver, black, blue, grey, red and white.

But now, four classic 70s’ colours – green, beige, yellow and gold - have crept out of the lower positions and made it into the top 10 preferences.

Brown is on the comeback

However, most remarkable is a fresh challenger - and that’s brown.

It was the ultimate diet of 1970s automotive spray paint divisions, most famously sported on the Ford Consul GT, driven by DC Jack Regan in the classic British TV cop show The Sweeney.

Another motor flaunting the tints of the time was the Austin Allegro (pictured top). Often seen in fetching rust brown, red or beige, it is now considered by many to typify all that was wrong with Britain in the 70s.

Its poor build quality and reputation for unreliability saw the Allegro, perhaps a tad unfairly, nicknamed the "flying pig" and the "all aggro".

The Ford Capri came in green, bronze or yellow

Yellow ford capri

The far cooler Ford Capri (pictured above) was also known for its interesting colours.

Using the mechanical components from the equally vibrant Ford Cortina, it was intended as the European equivalent of the Ford Mustang.

The Capri went on to be a successful car for Ford: nearly 1.9 million of them were sold in its lifetime.

The Capri would often be seen displaying a cloak of green, bronze or yellow during the decade of Spangles, sideburns and prog rock.

Car personalisation programmes

Yellow Citroen DS3

Research suggests that the comeback of 1970s colours may simply be a natural extension of motorists’ need to personalise their driving experience.

For example, the Citroen DS3 (pictured above) is configurable to your own preference, with a diverse array of hues including the comeback colours.

Then there’s the FIAT 500 personalisation programme, which offers a multitude of trim and colour combinations, giving you the opportunity to pimp out the model in ways you never thought possible.

The latest FIAT 500X (pictured below), a pumped up 500 with four-wheel-drive capability, comes in chic "New Age Cream" which, to you and me, is a beige/cappuccino colour.

Fiat 500

The power of retro chic

In times gone by, the most popular colours were determined by the car manufacturers when they made their production planning decisions.

People therefore tended to buy what they were offered.

But now with made to order paintjobs built into many automakers’ buying process, the power of retro chic is coming to the fore.

MG has also made its supermini – the MG3 (pictured below) - a blank canvas so it can be personalised.

Fiat 500

Don't make any rash judgments

With three trim levels, 10 colours, including a bronze, brown look, and a range of at least 10 graphic packs, young drivers with their first pay packet will be spoilt for choice.

The combinations are almost endless.

Of course, some will argue a certain colour may suit a certain car better: for example, a red Ferrari, and more quirky cars, such as the aforementioned Citroen, FIAT and MG models, can get away with more exotic hues.

Just don’t make any rash judgements – after all it is you that will have to live with that beige, yellow or brown car.


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