6 February 2013

The five coolest classic car colors ever

Certain classic car colors have become indelibly associated with either an era or a particular car. During the muscle car era of the ’60s, bright shades that looked like they came straight from a roll of Life Savers were the height of cool. Happily, many of them are available again in the modern versions of the Challengers, Camaros and Mustangs available today. Here are some of the best of classic cool:

  1. Camaro Hugger Orange: Ironically, one of the most quintessentially loud ’60s colors appeared at the very end of that decade — 1969 to be exact in the last model year of the first-generation (1967-69) Chevy Camaro. It looks particularly good set off with black stripes, and collectors will pay a big premium for cars that came from the factory in this iconic color.
  2. Mustang Grabber Blue: A close second to Hugger Orange in sheer coolness, the history behind the shade is a bit muddled — some claim that it was “borrowed” from the shade of blue used by French cars in international competition. Others claim that it’s a derivative of Richard Petty’s racing colors. It matters little. Whether it’s a classic 1970 Mustang Boss 302 or a 2013 Boss 302, this is the color to have.
  3. ‘Cuda Plum Crazy: The anonymous real men of genius who were naming colors for Chrysler in the late ’60s and early ’70s were at the top of their game with shades like “Top Banana” and “Black Velvet,” but in terms of the audacity of the hue and the name attached to it, “Plum Crazy” was it. It’s particularly irresistible when applied to the top of the muscle car food chain, the Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda. A 1971 Plum Crazy Hemi ‘Cuda convertible recently sold at Barrett-Jackson for more than $1.3 million.
  4. British Racing Green: Back in the 1950s, cars racing in international competition were relatively unadorned — often just a white circle with a number and no sponsor decals. All wore colors corresponding to their country of origin. White was for American cars, blue for French, red for Italian and dark green for British. Not surprisingly, the latter became known as “British Racing Green,” and for collectors of vintage Jaguars, MGs, Triumphs and Austin-Healeys, it’s the most desirable color. Or perhaps we should say “colour.”
  5. Ferrari Fly Yellow: After Rosso Corsa (Italian Racing Red), Fly Yellow is the iconic Ferrari color. It’s even more brash than red so, consequently, we’re more fond of it. The most common explanation for the name is this: Enzo Ferrari was fond of horse racing and often named colors for his favorite ponies. “Fly” was reputed to be one of his favorites.

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32 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Jim United States February 14, 2013 at 13:36
    I'd take Plymouth's Vitamin C over Hugger Orange any day! This is coming from someone that has owned both @ the same time. 68 SS/RS Camaro in hugger & 69 Charger in Vitamin C.
  • 2
    gary auburn wa February 14, 2013 at 13:41
    you forgot "Burnished Brown"
  • 3
    Mark S.E. Wisconsin February 14, 2013 at 13:50
    Lime Gold and Calypso Coral. A couple of my fav's by Ford, just sayin'
  • 4
    Christopher Stranko Pittsburgh, PA February 14, 2013 at 14:56
    Wow, a bit surprised that you missed the Plum Crazy purple and In Violet....a true sign of Chevy Luvin' writers!! Almost as bad as Hot Rod..........
  • 5
    Gary Alabama February 14, 2013 at 16:23
    I like the #1 (Hugger Orange, same as my '69 Z28 w/black stripes), and #2 (Grabber Blue, same as the '70 Mach I my wife bought new and still has),as well as the Plum Crazy Challenger RT/SE I owned back then, and I like the other colors too, BUT.... you left the best color off (the color on my '70 Roadrunner, Limelight / SubLime), and the most attention grabbing color (the color of a friend's '70 Cuda AAR - Panther Pink).. :)
  • 6
    Dee Ont,Canada February 14, 2013 at 16:44
  • 7
    Coupe De Ville Phil West of the Wall February 14, 2013 at 06:49
    What about Ford "Poppy Red" and "Last Stand Custard" aka "Competition Yellow"? A purple car???? NO THANKS!
  • 8
    Mark F. United States February 14, 2013 at 19:43
    One comment about the racing colors was close. The earliest international specification for American racing colors was white with blue stripes. It seems a lot of racers and factory execs must have known this. Shelby used it , Pontiac used it on the first Trans Ams, and a lot of other performance models first came with this color as the only option.
  • 9
    George Whiteley Blairsville, GA February 14, 2013 at 07:59
    Let's not forget the loud BMW "Safety" colors of the 1970's which made the "Neu Classe" cars from the Bavarian maker highly visible on the roads such as: "Golf"--a bright yellow also used by many fire departments for their vehicles; "Inka"--an equally bright red-orange; "Colorado"--another bright yellow-orange; and "Verona"--red;
  • 10
    Alan Houston February 14, 2013 at 08:09
    Flame orange 72 Chevelle. Now that is an attention getter!
  • 11
    butch Detroit February 14, 2013 at 08:15
    They got it dead on... These were muscle cars, not the family trucksters of the 50's
  • 12
    Mel Major PA February 14, 2013 at 08:33
    You may want to correct your #3 color for the '71 Plymouth Cuda. The color is "In Violet". Plum Crazy is for Dodge.
  • 13
    Steve Minnesota February 14, 2013 at 09:20
    Then there was the Mustard Yellow by AMC in 1971 only. Ford had a simmilar color as did Plymouth the year before.
  • 14
    Steven Florida February 14, 2013 at 09:20
    Pontiac 71 - 72 GTO had Limekist Green - you made a "bold statement" driving around in that....can't remember how many "what a cool color" comments I used to get.
  • 15
    jason pa February 14, 2013 at 22:18
    IRIS MIST 1965 only gm paint
  • 16
    jason pa February 14, 2013 at 22:22
    iris mist / evening orchid 1965 only chevy and pontiac color
  • 17
    DJ United States February 14, 2013 at 23:35
    What about the other real Dodge colors of 1970, like Panther Pink and Sublime Green! I thought they were better than Dodge's Plum Crazy.
  • 18
    Ed Mucha Virginia February 14, 2013 at 11:45
    Ed Riordan forgot the "other" Honduras Maroon, Buick Rio Titian Red, and it was on a few other GMs late 50s, early 60s. Had a 50 Olds Coupe painted "Rio-Honduras'. My mother liked the color so much that when she bought a new 85 Olds Calais coupe for herself, complete w/rallye wheels, buckets and a 5 spd, she also ordered it in color closest to the old maroon. In 2009 I traveled 700 miles to get what may have been the last 2 gals of Rio-Honduras, in lacquer, to paint my 38 Chev coupe street rod.
  • 19
    Louise Long Island, NY February 14, 2013 at 11:51
    My husband and I owned a new Boss 302 in Grabber Blue. It turned heads everywhere we went when we drove across the USA in 1970. I was navigator and he was the pilot. We never forgot that car - it was a joyful era for the muscle cars. Five years ago we purchased a Superformance clone of the Shelby Cobra SC in sapphire blue. No question - another head turner.
  • 20
    Johnny Horsepower Chicago February 14, 2013 at 12:00
    Glad someone corrected the diferent names of mopar colors for the same color and code. Dodge="Plum Crazy" Plymouth = "in Violet"
  • 21
    J.W. Magner United States February 15, 2013 at 09:36
    Forgot to mention the little independent manufacture...AMC. In 1969 they offered 3 Big Bad colors on the AMX & Javelins. Big Bad Green, Big Bad Orange and Big Bad Blue!
  • 22
    Jon Walla Walla, WA February 15, 2013 at 11:39
    Obviously, many have already commented on the mistaken color name "Plum Crazy" for the Plymouth line. However, it may have been more interesting to have added "Panther Pink" for the Challenger T/A series. Now that was cool!
  • 23
    Jon Walla Walla, WA February 15, 2013 at 11:41
    Obviously, many have already commented on the mistaken color name "Plum Crazy" for the Plymouth line. However, it may have been more interesting to have added "Panther Pink" for the Challenger T/A series. Now that was cool!
  • 24
    Linda washington February 16, 2013 at 16:51
    my '69 Roadrunner was Plum Crazy. What a ride!
  • 25
    steve Baltimore February 16, 2013 at 11:47
    I am partial to the color GOLF ( kind of a flourescent yellow/green) that BMW used in 1972 and 1973 on the 2002 and 3.0CS and 3.0CSI model cars. Originally introduced along with the INCA ( bright orange) color the intention was for safety so the cars could be seen more easily but quickly became iconic collector colors often thought of as early BMW racing colors.
  • 26
    Michael Waters Eastern NC February 18, 2013 at 12:23
    Original owner here. One 1969 HUGGER ORANGE Z/28 Camaro, all original drivetrain, numbers & date codes matching. WHITE STRIPES, black interior. Clark Classic Restorations is just days away from finishing an 18-month rotisserie restoration for me and the color combination is as stunningly gorgeous as it was the day I took delivery on May 10, 1969.
  • 27
    lagunamike Austin, TX February 20, 2013 at 17:44
    I remember when the DeKalb, IL police cars were AMC's in "Big Bad Orange" and white. The unmarked cars were just "Big Bad Orange" four doors with blackwalls and poverty caps. No way to tell they were police cars, HUH!!!!
  • 28
    Eric USA February 22, 2013 at 22:44
    Deloreans came in one color: "Fingerprint."
  • 29
    Kent Covington Driver's Seat March 3, 2013 at 07:15
    Great Idea! One could do an entire article on just the MGB color palette. With Grampian Grey, Mineral Blue, Primrose, Dark Tulip, Iris Blue, some crazy "Orchid" color and many. many more original colors that let owners express their individuality in the psychedelic '60s and early swinging '70s. Of course finding an example still painted in each of these unconventional colors might prove very difficult! But would be a great challenge for your automotive investigative reporters. KC
  • 30
    Wayne Shropshire Burtonsville, MD March 12, 2013 at 15:43
    My vote is for Candy Apple Red on a Mach I everytime!
  • 31
    Curtis Smith Chino Hills, CA April 24, 2013 at 14:24
    In the article it states that the International Racing color of the US is white. Another poster stated the colors were white with blue strips. That is close. Actually when the colors were assigned to the various countries the automobile had both a frame and a body that was visible. The colors for the US were a white body with a blue frame. The colors were assigned in the early 1900’s. Originally they could stand for either the car’s origin or the driver’s nationality. When the body started to cover the frame, racers would put two blue strips signifying the frame color, hence the start of “racing” stripes. This was started in the early 1950’s by Briggs Cunningham, in France, for the 24 hours of Le Mans.
  • 32
    Jim Skelly Dearborn August 9, 2013 at 10:15
    How about Tiger Gold used on the '65-'67 GTO and Verdoro Green used on '68-'70 Pontiacs?

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