Range Rover Evoque
White is still fashionable, and supply still hasn't caught up with demand
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Range Rover Evoque
White is still fashionable, and supply still hasn’t caught up with demand. Works well with sports specs and trendy 4WDs like the Evoque

CAR colour has hidden depths.

On the surface many people are dismissive – “I don’t care about colour” – but actually, when the chips are down, they do.

Colour can have a big impact on residual values

And even if you really don’t feel strongly about it, remember that when you come to trade in your business car, the buyers certainly will. Colour can have a big impact on used car values.

Here’s our rough guide to how things stand in the prestige car market.

White still holds top slot as the colour of the moment, particularly if it’s on a sport trim. It’s still fashionable, and although used volumes are growing slowly they still haven’t caught up with demand.

For ‘sports’ models think Sport, S Line, M Sport and special editions like the Audi Black Edition.

White is also a strong option for ‘proper’ sports cars like a Porsche 911 or Cayman. Even some high end luxury models like the Aston Martin Vantage and Bentley GT are much sought after in white.

Mercedes 350
Black is the new silver. A safe bet right across the board as long as over-supply doesn’t become a factor

It still holds true in 4WDs with models such as the Range Rover Evoque being particularly favoured. But models with smaller wheels – middle range models or entry levels – don’t quite suit the colour and neither do the large luxury models such as A8, S class and 7 series.

Right at the other end of the scale, black still ticks most boxes in most sectors. It remains the most reliable choice.

How colour affects value

This example shows trade values of a 1 year old BMW 320d M Sport. The variations are either side of an expected value of £20,000.

  • +£400 – White
  • +£250 – Black 
  • AVG – Grey metallic
  • -£100 – Silver metallic & metallic blue
  • -£200 – Base Red
  • -£1000 – Unusual metallic

It looks good on everything from an Audi A1, BMW 5 series, Mercedes S class, Porsche Cayenne right up to a Maserati.

The only thing to look out for is oversupply (as happened with silver). Otherwise black’s a sensible choice come re-sale time. Nor does it really matter with it’s a metallic or base black that you choose, as long as you look after it.

Silver was the black of a decade ago and, while it’s still popular, it’s shifted towards darker or lighter grey metallic shades which add variation.

Values on metallic greys are still close to black values in the right market and it also suits most models. As far as the old traditional silver goes, there is more supply than demand and so values are slightly lower than the average.

BMW  3 Series
Red can work – every dealer needs a red car to brighten up the forecourt

On the up are metallic blues, now close to silver in terms of value. I think the reason is rarity, though light metallic blues are to be avoided and are worth less than darker blues.

Non-metallic red can be a successful choice when carefully matched to the right car, and has seen demand rise recently. Every dealer needs some red on the forecourt because it breaks up the monotony of the safer choices.

Red is particularly suited to smaller company cars (as with white, this is especially true with a sports related specification), but should be avoided on larger luxury models where the sober colour rule still applies.

Straying into the more unusual – metallic reds, greens (though good on a Jaguar), and singular metallics like golds and browns – can work if you fall on the right buyer, but it’s more likely that these cars will take longer to sell and expect a considerable discount to trade values.

MINIs are sometimes an exception to this rule, as well as unusual specs like an RS4, R8 or an M3, where oranges and Sky blues will find a buyer.

Richard Crosthwaite is Prestige Car Editor at Glass’s Guide

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