What are the most popular car colours UK?
When it comes to choosing car colours, the possibilities are almost endless. And when buying a new car, it’s not just the colour that you can control: the shade, the finish, and the matching trim can all be customised.
You could opt for solid or pearlescent; matte or metallic; go faster stripes or even a personalised number plate.
So, it might surprise you that – despite all the options available – grey, black, and white regularly top the list of most popular UK car colours. In fact, those three car colours have held on to their place at the top of the charts since 2011!
These colours might be plain but that’s why they’re popular – they have broad appeal. While a black or grey car might not get anyone’s pulse racing, neutral colours are unlikely to offend anyone either.
That’s also the reason why silver and blue also have enduring appeal. They are the type of car colours that almost everyone would buy without a second thought.
In 2021, the top 10 colours for new cars registered were:
- Grey – 408,155 or 25% of the market
- Black – 337,351 or 21% of the market
- White – 282,529 or 17% of the market
- Blue – 279,891 or 17% of the market
- Red – 145,273 or 9% of the market
- Silver – 111,549 or 7% of the market
- Green – 17,927 or 1% of the market
- Orange – 16,642 or 1% of the market
- Yellow – 8,952 or 0.5% of the market
- Bronze – 4,500 or 0.3% of the market
Used car sales follow a similar pattern, in part because there are so many more options available on the market in neutral colours.
When looking at UK used car sales in just one quarter, between April and June 2021, the top three colours were:
- Black - 461,050 sold
- Silver - 363,529 sold
- Blue - 362, 140 sold
This accounts for 54.8% of all UK used car sales during that period.
Car colours UK trends
Neutral shades haven’t always been the most popular choice when it comes to car colours. Just like clothing, fashion trends change over time and different shades become more popular while others fall out of favour. In the 1960s and 70s, for example, brown and mustard yellow cars were much more sought-after than they would be today.
The growth of hybrid and electric vehicles is also impacting car colour preferences. Perhaps taking inspiration from EVs reputation as the cleaner choice, white was the most in-demand car colour for electric car buyers in 2020. The higher price point asked for eco-friendly models was also reflected with sophisticated black being the top colour option for owners of plug-in hybrids.
Different areas in the UK also prefer different car colours. Residents of the Isle of Wight could be taking inspiration from their coastal views with their car choices as they tend to prefer blue vehicles. Drivers in the West Midlands, in contrast, aren’t afraid to embrace bright colours as they bought the largest share of orange cars in the UK in 2020. In Leicestershire, car buyers must be tickled pink to learn that 23.7% of all newly registered cars in the county win 2020 – that’s almost 1 in 4 – was pink.
What are the most unusual car colours on the market?
Looking for a car colour that’ll help you stand out from the crowd? Try these options on for size:
- Sequin blue – a hi-tech, shiny shade of blue that shimmers in the sun
- Molten pearl – a subtle hint of orange offset with earthy clay tones
- Verde Mantis – this vibrant shade of green takes inspiration from the Ninja Turtles
- Frozen Berry – a metallic shade of purple inspired by your morning smoothie and exclusive to Porsche Taycans
- Sao Paulo Yellow – taking style cues from the beaches of Brazil, BMW’s almost neon yellow is sure to attract attention
What do car colours symbolise?
Ever wondered what your choice of car colour says about you? Here are the traits most associated with some of the UK’s most popular shades:
It might not be the most exciting popular car colour, but grey has universal appeal. Traditionally, it’s associated with stability and reliability, which are two traits that almost every car buyer would be happy to have in their vehicle. And of course, grey is a colour that everyone in the UK is very familiar with thanks to our reliably overcast weather!
Black is understated yet bold so it’s typically a colour that’s associated with luxury and sophistication. It makes a statement but it’s serious too with the implication that you’re a self-confident driver who doesn’t need to show off with a brightly coloured car.
If you own a white car, then you’re probably someone who is good at keeping things clean. It’s a car colour that doesn’t hide any dirt, so it’s often associated with neatness and precision. As a blank canvas, a white car is also considered a tasteful choice.
The great thing about blue is that there are so many different shades. You have a whole range of tones to choose from: think sophisticated navy, vibrant cobalt, or cute cornflower. Blue is a calming colour and one that is also closely linked to nature, conjuring images of the sky and sea.
There’s a reason why we typically associate red with sports cars. It’s a colour that symbolises excitement, speed, power, and danger. If you own a red car, it’s probably safe to say that you’re not scared of attention or putting your foot down on the motorway.
The popularity of green cars has ebbed and flowed over the years. Some people believe it’s an unlucky colour, which makes them shy away from choosing it for a vehicle. But it’s also a heritage choice; British racing green is often associated with prestige cars like Aston Martin and the original Mini Cooper.
You’d have to be a brave driver to choose a yellow car but, like green, it’s a shade that comes in and out of fashion. Not everyone will be a fan but if sunshine makes you feel happy, warm, and bright, why not choose a yellow car? Just be prepared for some people to compare your car to the famous Fiat Cinquecento from the Inbetweeners.
Factors that could affect your preferred car colour
When deciding which car colour would be right for you, there are a few different factors you should consider:
- Will it show dirt?
If you’re someone who loves taking care of your car and makes it a priority to wash it every Sunday, then you might not worry about choosing a colour that could highlight dirt. But if you’d rather do anything but get the bucket and sponge out, a light-coloured car that shows every speck of mud might not be the right choice for you.
- Will it be seen in the dark?
If you do a lot of driving at night or during the winter, especially in built up areas, then a black or navy car that’s difficult to see in the dark might be more hazardous. The same consideration applies if you live in a warmer climate; a light-coloured car could better reflect the heat and help keep the interior cool.
- Will it impact resale value?
So, your dream car would be a baby blue or Barbie pink VW Golf, but would that appeal to anyone else? While you love a distinctive colour scheme, other drivers might not be so keen and that could impact the amount you’re able to charge when you sell your car in the future. A sensible shade of grey might not have as much instant kerbside appeal, but it could be the more pragmatic choice when it comes to increasing your car’s value.
- Does it match my personality?
A new car is one of the biggest purchases we make in our lifetime and one that you’re likely to live with for a few years at least. Don’t compromise on the car’s colour if it’s going to make you sad every time you see it sat out on your drive. Make sure that you choose a shade that reflects your personality and lifestyle to lessen the chances of ending up with buyers’ remorse.
Why do red cars fade?
One of the reasons why red cars can divide opinions is because the colour can sometimes fade over time. There’s a scientific reason behind it; coloured paint is designed to absorb all light wavelengths except its own, which means that red paint will reflect red light but absorb green, blue, and UV light. Unfortunately, those light wavelengths are more energetic than red and can cause the paint’s molecular bonds to degrade faster. Hot climates can speed up the process even more.
How are cars painted?
Car paint is usually made from a water-based formula that’s applied using a spray gun. Typically, it’s applied in multiple stages to help make it more resilient to the elements. It all starts with prep, followed by a primer that includes rust inhibitors, then there’s a based coat of polyurethane-based enamel that’s designed to protect the car from environmental damage. The final layer is a clear coat, which is chemical and UV-resistant. Cars are also often heat-cured between each coat to strengthen them, remove any unwanted moisture, and provide scratch and chip resistance.
Car colours and car finance
When it comes to car finance, your choice of car colour could matter more than you think. Buying a used car might not give you the same amount of autonomy as new car finance would but it does mean you’re more likely to buy one of the more common colours like black, blue, or grey. And that could be a good thing; especially if you’ve chosen a PCP car finance deal.
With a PCP loan, you don’t borrow the total purchase price of your new car. Instead, your loan will be the difference between the purchase price today and the amount the lender thinks your car will be worth at the end of your agreement. This is known as the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value or GMFV. Choosing an unusual car colour could impact that future value and mean you need to borrow more in the short term.
Your car’s future value is also important if you’re worried about negative equity. Whether you’re looking for a loan for a used car or finance for new cars, negative equity might affect you. It happens when the amount you owe on your finance is more than your car is worth. All cars lose value, but the rate of depreciation can slow down over time. You might have a hire purchase agreement and start off in negative equity, but this can reduce if you continue making payments and depreciation decreases.
Car colour can also affect the rate of depreciation; a good rule of thumb is the more unusual the colour, the faster it will lose value. Car buyers and dealerships offering part-exchange know that a black or silver car will always be in style while a green, orange, yellow or pink model will only appeal to buyers who are looking for a bolder choice.
UK car finance also considers affordability. When you’re looking for a great deal on a used car, colour might come into play. Typically, solid, non-metallic colours are lowest cost than metallics so it’s worth keeping this in mind when you start your car search.