How has the Nation’s Favourite Car Colour Changed Over the Years?

In January 2018, the SMMT reported that black has returned as being the UK’s favourite car colour with 515,970 new registrations in 2017 — taking a 20.3% market share, which is a 0.2% increase on 2016. Grey showed significant popularity too, taking second place with a 2.4% increase in market share, whilst white cars appeared to lose a 1.5% market share with just 482,099 new registrations.

The nation’s favorite car color has been subject to change over the years. Historically, cars were typically painted in more neutral tones such as black, white, and silver. However, as the automotive industry progressed, consumers began to embrace more vibrant colors such as red, blue, and green. Nowadays, car manufacturers offer a wide range of colors to cater to the diverse tastes of their customers. To keep up with these changing trends and to achieve a custom look for your car, you can shop automotive paint in various shades and finishes, from glossy to matte and everything in between.

How has the nation’s favourite car colour changed over time? Join us as we investigate:

The nation’s favourite car colour: 2017 v 2007 v 1997

Let’s begin by looking at the UK’s top five new car colours, according to the SMMT, and comparing them to the colours of all cars on the nation’s roads in 2007 and 1997:

Top 5 new car colours of 2017

Rank    Colour   Number of registrations    Market share (%)

1           Black                 515,970                                20.3

2           Grey                 500,714                                19.7

3          White                482,099                               19.0

4           Blue                  405,758                                16.0

5           Silver                254,192                                10.0

Top 5 car colours of 2007

Rank       Colour      Number of Cars        Market share (%)

1              Blue               7,522,576                              24

2             Silver              7,345,841                             24

3            Red                   4,497,237                            14

4            Black                3,975,773                            13

5            Green               2,948,959                           9

Top 5 car colours of 1997

Rank      Colour         Number of Cars    Market share (%)

1                Red                6,733,640                      26

2              Blue                6,284,838                      25 

3            White               3,561,778                       14

4            Green               2,275,329                      9

5             Silver                2,068,196                     8


By looking at the three tables above, it seems clear that black has been steadily growing in popularity as the colour people opt for when it comes to their car for quite a few years now. In fact, the hue wasn’t even one of the top five colours of all cars on the UK’s roads in 1997.

As the SMMT highlighted when reporting on the top new car colours of 2017, the colour black wasn’t one of the top five tones until 1998. From that year until 2001, it was the fifth most popular colour for new car registrations, before leaping to become the third most popular hue from 2002-2005, the second most popular colour from 2006-2008 and finally the most popular tone from 2009-2012 and then again last year (it dipped to the number two spot again between 2013 and 2016).

Grey may be the colour to keep an eye on though, especially since the tone was the second most popular hue last year and yet wasn’t one of the top five colours of all cars to be found on UK roads either in 2007 or 1997. However, the SMMT did record that grey became the fifth most popular colour for new car registrations in 2003, before enjoying a stint as being the fourth most popular hue from 2004-2013 without interruption, the third most popular tone from 2014-2016 and now only behind black as the most popular colour. The popularity of the colour draws many similarities to how black rose to prominence across two decades.

One question that must also be asked when looking at the tables above is: what has happened to our love for the colour red when it comes to choosing a tone for our cars? The colour was the most popular hue for all cars on the UK’s roads in 1997 and yet didn’t make the top five new car colours of 2017. Instead, the tone had to settle for sixth place with 251,104 registrations and a 9.9% market share — it’s the first time red has been outside of the top five for new car registrations since 2012!

Of course, there will be some colours which will stand the test of time due to their association with certain car brands — even if their overall numbers do decline.

Despite speculating on the apparent decline of the colour red when Brits choose a car, for instance, many of us will instantly think of this hue when Ferrari is mentioned. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, though — Ferrari has stated that 85% of all Ferraris built during the early 1990s had been requested with red liveries.

Meanwhile, how many of you reading this piece would select a new Aston Martin in silver? This hue has long gone hand-in-hand with cars manufactured by this British car maker, thanks in part to the classic Aston Martin DB5 having a Silver Birch paintwork and being driven by the iconic fictional secret agent, James Bond, in many of his films.

Diana Simpson

Diana is a passionate journalist and a curious soul who is on the quest of finding what she loves the most; coffee, dogs, books or traveling? Born and bred in London, writing is her healing power.