Owning and restoring a classic vehicle is a hobby that demands visual results. You want to get the car into working order, but part of the enjoyment is to bring back the look of a particular decade. The easiest way to catch an eye is with a top-notch paint job. There are three available routes when selecting a classic auto color: market popularity, traditional colors, and complementary colors.

Market Popularity

You can paint your car based on modern trends. Many restoration experts see this approach as bringing an old model into a new age. Thanks to basic market principles, consumers influence the majority of colors available. Most choices are variations of a few key colors. Roughly half of all vehicles on the road today are one of three key colors:

  • Silver               23%
  • White               15%
  • Black               12%

Silver leads the majority of automotive models. The exact reason for its popularity is unknown, but Robert Daily, a marketing color expert, estimates it is because, “Silver and gray reflect our fascination with technology … and [silver] accentuates the angular, ‘new-edge design’ of the latest luxury sport vehicles.”


The most sought-after approach is to get the car to match the original paint job. In some cases, the car is so old the original paint is too faded or stripped to pinpoint the correct color. This used to require a great deal of research, but the internet is stocked with databases from car enthusiasts who offer color charts to match the make and model of each vehicle.

For instance, this website has all the information needed to restore the paint on any Chevy automobile manufactured between 1939 and 1958.

If the make, year, and model are not enough, try identifying the car’s cowl tag or vehicle identification number. The cowl tags provide even more information; use them to find out what type of bumper, trim, body, and paint color the vehicle was originally. Typically, cowl tags are on the vehicle’s firewall.

Complementary Colors

Certain colors reflect certain lines of cars, decades, or even eras in history. For instance, during the 1960s, muscle cars were bought in shockingly bright colors. Many ’60s Mustangs and other cars feature bright shades of yellow, red, pink, and orange. Here are some big complementary colors:

  • Orange. The 1967-’69 Camaros are associated with a loud orange and are often painted over with racing stripes or another decal with a contrasting color. The orange Camaro is a staple of American culture.
  • Green. Specific to Britain, green grew out of the need to have a special nationwide automobile color. In the 1950s, international racing was becoming popular. American cars were white. Italy sported red cars. Not to be outdone, Britain used a specific shade of dark green. Now called British Racing Green, this color works great for classic Triumphs, Jaguars, and other racing cars of that era.
  • Yellow. Close your eyes. Picture an expensive sports car. What is the first model that comes to mind? Car enthusiasts will tell you the correct answer is the Ferrari. Ferrari Fly Yellow is simply a staple; you can’t go wrong with a yellow Ferrari from any year.

Once you have picked the perfect color for your car, you will want to make sure it has a beautifully restored interior to match. All Glass Auto & Upholstery can assist you with upholstery restoration for your interior to accentuate the paint color. Call All Glass Auto & Upholstery at (562) 432-9366 for more details.