Nearly three years ago I wrote a story about cars that were painted green. That was because I had noticed that very few new cars were sold in that color. New cars seemed always to be gray, black, or white. There were also a few that were red, blue, or yellow, but hardly any that were green.
Well now it seems that we are going through a similar episode again. In the past month, or so, I have noticed new green cars in much greater numbers than at any time during the past several years. It’s as if the public got tired of green as a car color over the past decade and decided to stop buying them. It may also have been that car makers didn’t offer that color anymore. But now, the public seems to have changed its mind, again.
As I have explained before, I like green as a color. In fact, as long as I can remember, it’s been my favorite color for almost anything. And when it turned out that my wife also liked green, choosing a color was easy—as long as we wanted the same thing in green. Of course, if it was something you painted yourself—like your house—choosing green wasn’t a problem as long as you could get the right type of paint in that color. But green doesn’t seem to be very popular for the outside color of a house. There are “green” houses, but they are places where you grow plants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a house that was painted green, except for a door here and there. That opens up a whole new subject for discussion some day: House color. It seems to me that most houses are the color of the material used for the siding. If it’s wood, it will usually be either the color of a stain that was used to finish the wood, or, if it’s painted it will most often be white. I don’t recall ever seeing a house that was painted green or blue. I have seen red houses, however, and maybe a few yellow.
Several years ago, when I first took up the subject of car color, I tried to include all the cars I had ever owned and to remember what color they were. It turned out that wasn’t hard to do. I was even able to remember the color of the first car I had ever ridden in. It was green. It was my father’s 1929 Model A Ford. We drove around Brooklyn in that car for several years until he bought a black one. Remember that car maker Henry Ford was famous for having said, ”a car can be any color as long as it’s black.” How my father was able to get a green one was never explained to me.
The first car I ever owned myself was light gray, but I didn’t have it very long. It was a Dodge and was about ten years old. I think it cost me $150 in 1951. My future wife taught me how to drive in it, and some of that driving was exciting. I’m sure every West Windsor driver has made the left turn off Washington Road at the railroad overpass going east. Well, in 1951 that part of the road wasn’t paved. It was made of loose gravel. The first time I decided to drive over the overpass, I cut the left turn too sharply and did a 180-degree half-spin out of control. For a new driver that was almost enough to make me stop and let my fiancee do all the driving from then on. But I got over it.
Our first real car of any importance was black. It was a 1947 Studebaker coupe. At that time, the color of our car wasn’t important, but black was still a dominant color. Relatively few cars were available in a “color,” that is red, blue, yellow, or green. It was as if all car makers were living by Henry Ford’s teaching.
But by around 1956, we both needed our own car, and my wife inherited the Studebaker so she could get to her teaching job in Princeton. Mine was a 1953 green Plymouth sedan. Little did we know that the green Plymouth was to be the first in a sequence of green cars that took us well into the next decade, including a pair of Plymouth station wagons. They were both green and were the cars in which we introduced our family to camping. We used the green Plymouths for trips to Nova Scotia, the Great Lakes, Cape Hatteras, and other places that had good campsites.
At the time, we took a liking to green as a color for our car. Part of this was accidental, in that the local Plymouth dealer usually had a green one when we were looking. But we also took a liking to green as the color of our car. In fact, we also started to notice that green began to become quite rare as a car color. And if it had not been for our purchase of a dark blue 1986 Honda Prelude—which was not available in green—we might have continued to buy green cars. But we did notice that little by little green bagan to lose popularity as the color of new cars.
When I looked into the subject of green cars a couple of years ago, I was prompted by an apparent increase in popularity of green as a car color. In fact there were more green cars for a while, but since I didn’t make a detailed study of the subject, I have no data to prove it. But in recent months, I find conditions very similar to what they seemed to be back then. As you look at traffic in this area, it seems that a very large fraction of the cars you see are somewhere between white and black, which include many shades of gray. And gray includes shades of silver. What I call “colors” include red, blue, and yellow. But, until a few months ago, the colors did not include green.
Now in the new year, I have noticed that green seems to be making a comeback, the way it did a couple of years ago. I have seen green mostly in dark shades, but once in a while now there is a really bright green: a color you might find in the ad on a delivery truck. But if history is to be consistent, green will soon lose popularity and most cars will be shades between gray and black again.