Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The brown-aissance

A Bentley GTC in brown - am I the only person to like it?

Back in October I wrote an article which subsequently appeared on the website of Practical Classics magazine, lamenting the disappearance of brown from the colour charts of most manufacturers. At the time I could think of just Toyota and MCC Smart as examples of companies which produced cars in the hue so reminiscent of Princesses, Maxis and Cortina Mk3s. Brown interiors are even more scarce – even these companies choose to team their brown bodies with conservative cream or grey interiors.

But since then, brown has undergone something of a renaissance. Porsche, Audi, BMW, and Jaguar offer shades of brown in at least one of each brand’s respective model ranges. Peugeot offer brown too, for those with somewhat slimmer wallets. And for those with money to burn, I found a chocolate coloured Bentley GTC for sale yesterday with a tan leather interior to match its walnut dashboard. And a selection of single and duo-tone brown options are available on the Mulsanne, for the most well heeled in society.

And I’m pleased to say that my prediction; that brown would suit these cars amongst others, was correct. We’ve already seen the return of yellow on cars such as the BMW Mini (which can be purchased in brown with a brown pair of stripes), the SEAT range, and on the defunct MG range. MG’s reincarnation brings with it another example of the vivid orange Ford reintroduced with the Focus ST.
We’re stepping away from a world of sober blues, reds, greens and blacks. Showing silver the door. 2010 heralds the birth of a decade in which, I predict, the spectrum sees fit to revisit the roads of the world. Could this partially provide the return of the individuality I crave on the highways?

I think so, but there’s another item from the dustbin of automotive history I’d like to see reborn. The vinyl roof. Alright, the idea of the vinyl roof being made from vinyl is a touch passé. A roof covered in leathercloth was not only a little bit outdated by the 1980s, but if the roof was damaged water could get between the roof and covering – and as leathercloth is waterproof the water became trapped between the two. This is an open invitation for rot. In any case, I can’t see many people today wanting to boot polish the roof of the new car to keep it looking swish.

But a roof which contrasts in appearance from the body is something I should like to see return. Jag have the right idea on the new XJ, in part. Paint a brown, beige, or black (or any colour) ‘vinyl’ roof or D-pillar onto a car – the Jag’s roof is the wrong shape for a contrasting D-pillar but a VW Jetta, say, would look rather good with one. Solid paint on a metallic car body would achieve the suitable differentiation on, say, a black car with a black roof. We needn’t even stick to traditional vinyl roof hues, although it would be advised to choose a colour which doesn’t clash with the interior. Audi did something similar with the last few TT MK1s in 2006; red or silver cars with black roofs. It looked excellent, although contemporary reports felt it spoiled the lines somewhat.

I personally think my Brown Car Appreciation Guild achieved its aim – being responsible for convincing manufacturers we need more brown cars. Next up, the Vinyl Roof Appreciation Guild, perhaps?

1 comment:

  1. Brown to me on cars are best left to the 1970s in my personal opinion. It's one of them colours for cars like yellow, orange and lime green dividing opinions which people love or loathe. Brown looks nice for internal aesthetics of a car like leather upholstery or wood veneer really. But for the outside is a no-no. Whatever floats your boat I guess. Having said that, I love the Ford Focus ST/RS models in orange or lime green. At the end of the day, it's all really a matter of taste.