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Looking ahead
While it's likely that conservative color choices will tend to dominate the car market for years to come, Webb suggests that there is a growing interest in more unusual colors.

"People are starting to want to customize, personalize and express themselves," he says. "One of the easiest ways to do that on a car is to change color."

Color Popularity Survey
The numbers reflect the percentage of vehicles manufactured during the 2006 model year in North America, as compiled by DuPont.
No. Color %
1. Silver 19
2. White 16
3. Gray 13
4. Black 13
5. Blue 11
6. Red 11
7. Light Brown 7
8. Green 4
9. White Pearl 3
 10. Yellow/Gold 3

Thanks to new technologies and processing techniques, consumers have color choices and options that weren't widely available years ago. One popular trend is colors that seem to change depending on the light that hits it and the angle at which you see it.

"It's amorphous," says Barb. "Is it gray, is it green, is it blue? These are cars that seem to have a little bit of everything." The high-tech, hue-shifting finishes have tiny metal flakes, usually aluminum, added to the paints to create the special effects.

Wong believes another paint trend may make a big impact in the near future. "There's a trend toward water-based paints," she says. It may not look any different on the car, but the paints reduce the amount of harmful emissions known as VOCs, which should pique the interest of environmentally conscious buyers.

And if you want to pick a color that's making a comeback? Try a deep, luxurious brown, says Webb, who says that we can thank Starbucks for the reinvigorated color.

2008 Buick Enclave
enlarge [+]

"There used to be a lot of negative connotations to brown -- like mud and dirt," he says. "But now it's a color associated with premium coffee and luxury."

He says that the Buick Enclave, a luxury crossover vehicle, has benefited from brown. Its cocoa exterior is the top-seller among its color choices.

Surcina predicts that golden hues like copper and bronze also will be seeing a resurgence in the next two to four years.

While color trends may suggest what's popular for many, Parker recommends buying a color that you love -- not one that everyone else does.  "Don't just buy whatever's on the lot," she says. "Order the color you want, because you're going to look at it every day for years. Let it express who you are."

-- Posted: Aug. 2, 2007
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