Why aren't there more pink cars?
April 24, 2008 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Why don't car manufacturers make pink cars?

They make cars in lots of other colors (ROYGBIV, brown, black, gray, beige). And pink is an awfully popular color for gadgets these days- pink mp3 players, pink phones, pink laptops. So why aren't there more pink cars? I don't know that I've ever seen a pink car that wasn't custom painted. Is this simply an issue of there not being a market for pink cars, or are there other factors involved?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Travel & Transportation (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
US market and resale value I would guess.
posted by iamabot at 10:07 AM on April 24, 2008

Well, of the "other" colors, none of them are particular to one gender. It costs a lot of money to do a colorway, so it better pay off.

People can get custom paint jobs anyway.
posted by k8t at 10:08 AM on April 24, 2008

I don't think the market for Elvis luvin' Mary Kay commando wagons is really large enough to justify buying the paint.
posted by krisak at 10:14 AM on April 24, 2008

The average age of a new car buyer is 48. By that age, the novelty of a pink car is probably gone.

That said, you can have a car repainted rather cheaply these days, so if ThePinkSuperhero needs a color coordinated super-ride, it will probably cost her a lot less than she thinks.

And once upon a time, GM did sell pink Cadillacs, though they were very expensive, even at the time.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:15 AM on April 24, 2008

Here ya go TPS.
posted by netbros at 10:15 AM on April 24, 2008

The Geo Storm came in pink and purple and other colors aimed at younger women. But that's the last one I remember.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:18 AM on April 24, 2008

Committing to a color is a huge investment and manufacturers work out the ROI very carefully. The colors cars come in are those that extensive research has shown would appeal to the largest number of people. To put it another way, I know you like pink, but can you think of a color that's made now that would turn OFF as many people as pink might?

Sorry to crush your dream!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:18 AM on April 24, 2008

Geo Trackers came in Pink too.
posted by Rafaelloello at 10:23 AM on April 24, 2008

Best answer: The only people who want to be mistaken for Mary Kay saleswomen are Mary Kay saleswomen.

I didn't know this until very recently, but there's an agreement that when MK-awarded vehicles, with their distinctive pink color, hit the wholesale auction market, they must be repainted completely - all panels, doors, etc. The paint job runs about $3K minimum, but that's why you never see them on a used-car lot.
posted by jquinby at 10:24 AM on April 24, 2008

Here's a Land Rover you might like.
posted by zippy at 10:26 AM on April 24, 2008

Best answer: There were pink cars in the late 50s (or two-tone/three-tone cars that had pink). There were also poodle skirts and bouffant hairdos.

I read a fascinating article in the NYT, I think (can't find it in the archives) on how car companies develop color schemes for their cars. Oddly enough, they looked to women's underwear for inspiration. Apparently underwear for women is the test lab for what colors are going to become popular—after they catch on in that market, they start showing up in clothes, and then in other things like cars.

I'd speculate that sex specificity also must have something to do with it—in the 50s, pink wasn't so established as a girlish color. But we also don't see many purple cars, kelly-green cars, or orange cars. A car's a big, long-term purchase and there is probably widespread reluctance to go with any color that people might get tired of. So we get a lot of more muted colors. Unlike personal electronics, which manufacturers want you to replace frequently.
posted by adamrice at 10:26 AM on April 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

My first car was a used blue Toyota Tercel, to which the previous owner had affixed bright pink racing stripes. I eventually took them off, but not before my friends had christened the car the "Barbiemobile." It was just too conspicuously girlie for me ... and I'm pretty girly. Obviously there's a lot of gender baggage in there, though ... I might have kept the stripes on if they'd been green or even purple. Maybe at the time (when I was a college student) I didn't want to have the car easily identifiable as a woman's car, for safety reasons. But really, the pink just seemed to be too much.
posted by lisa g at 10:27 AM on April 24, 2008

I have seen both pink Mustangs and pink Hummers at dealerships (more than one) in the metro Detroit area. I had assumed that they were manufactured, just in smaller numbers. However, I can't discount the idea that those were "custom" (as much as any elaborately-optioned dealership car is).

I'll ask a friend-of-a-friend who works with auto paint supply chain engineering if he knows any other reason beyond good ol' supply and demand.
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on April 24, 2008

An interesting datapoint:

Number of cars in the current Carmax inventory by color:

Black (4,013)
Blue (4,262)
Brown (272)
Gold (2,015)
Gray (3,518)
Green (1,732)
Orange (120)
Purple (84)
Red (3,890)
Silver (7,329)
Tan (1,266)
White (4,672)
Yellow (172)
posted by grateful at 10:28 AM on April 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have heard that Ford is bringing back the "Playboy Pink" Mustang next year. Also, there have been a few pink cars for Breast Cancer Research.
posted by tiburon at 10:29 AM on April 24, 2008

in the 50s, pink wasn't so established as a girlish color

Of course it was. I know. I was there. :-)

Kelly-green rabbits were extremely popular in the 70s.

I knew someone (who is now in his eighties) who had some kind of goofy theory that the reason there were so many red cars in the 60s was because no one wanted them, so people bought them at the end of the model year at a reduced price (this idea never made sense to me).
posted by thomas144 at 10:34 AM on April 24, 2008

The Mary Kay cosmetics company still offers pink Cadillacs as sales incentives. Someone around my town has one; I see it occasionally.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:48 AM on April 24, 2008

Just in case anyone else was curious, here's grateful's list, sorted in descending order:

Silver 7,329
White 4,672
Blue 4,262
Black 4,013
Red 3,890
Gray 3,518
Gold 2,015
Green 1,732
Tan 1,266
Brown 272
Yellow 172
Orange 120
Purple 84

(I have a hard time doing that in my head.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:53 AM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I read an article awhile ago [citation needed] where auto designers were lamenting the markets insatiable demand for silver cars. Quite succinctly, they do not make pink cars because nobody buys pink cars.

Most decent manufacturers will let you custom order whatever color you want. I think for BMW it is on the order of $2,000 extra, though that may have changed with the whole dollar-being-worthless thing.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:01 AM on April 24, 2008

The Nissan Micra, as reviewed by Top Gear. Very very pink. Not very good.
posted by hackwolf at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

My father is in the car business and they often will have a contest with a bonus to the salesman who can sell the bright purple or orange car that's been sitting on the lot for 8 months or so. Most houses are bland colors, too (except in John Cougar Mellencamp's world)!
posted by mattbucher at 11:30 AM on April 24, 2008

Two interesting data points:

1) You can get pink scooters, but not (AFAIK) pink motorcycles.

2) Most people who care deeply about the color of their car or motorcycle have custom paint jobs anyway. I've never heard of a custom paint job on a scooter, although I'm sure it's been done somewhere.

I suspect the crucial fact may be that people are willing to spend more time customizing a big purchase than a small one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2008

Actually, mattbucher's point makes me think of something else: even a single unsold car represents a pretty big sunk cost. A single unsold mp3 player is trivial. So a store selling mp3 players can take risks on things like color that a car dealership can't take.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:56 AM on April 24, 2008

You would have to wear a white sports coat when driving though.

FWIW I think perhaps there are more pink cars in Europe than in the US. But cars seem less tied up with testosterone in Europe than the US - people seem to happily drive little cars, without feeling like it doesn't look good.
posted by tiny crocodile at 12:08 PM on April 24, 2008

Japan tends to offer more pink cars for sale as well, mainly the tiny kei-class cars. Hell, the fact that there are Hello Kitty special edition cars means Japan is a more welcoming market for pink cars than North America, though apparently cherry blossoms have something to do with it too.
posted by chrominance at 12:32 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would love it if they would bring back the palette that Volvo used in the mid seventies. I had a 72 Volvo that was the loudest safety yellow you could imagine. A friend had a similar car in bright orange.

For some idea of what colors we might see in the future, you can look at the predictions of organizations like The Color Association - they publish forecasts for the design world. Not car-specific, but pretty interesting regardless.
posted by gyusan at 12:34 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I saw an all-pink "new" VW Bug on Briar Forest in Houston a couple of days ago (it had a black convertible top and the vanity plate "PINK").

(can we really say "New Bug" anymore, when it's been out ten years?)
posted by mrbill at 12:40 PM on April 24, 2008

Panther Pink and Moulin Rouge were stunning pink hues available on Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars.
posted by daveleck at 12:52 PM on April 24, 2008

Best answer: I know you're asking mostly about the US and the Western world, but here are some more kei cars (compact city cars) from Japan. These models, like the Suzuki Palette above, tend to come in colors like pink and pale yellow and are targeted toward housewives or young adult women still living at home. Even the model names are cute.

The Nissan Moco in "bonnie pink" (a chihuahua and pink lover finds her car)
The Mazda Demio on "cosmic pink metallic"
Nissan Cube in "cranberry pink" (scroll down for all colors)
Nissan March Mia

Hell, check out the 180 cars that show up on this used car search
Lots of Toyota, Daihatsu, Suzuki, Honda, Nissan... no American.
posted by QueSeraSera at 1:05 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cars come in colors that couples can agree on. It's not like a phone or mp3 player, or even a scooter, which is basically always a one-person purchase. Lots of women buy cars alone, but it's a two-person purchase often enough that offering pink cars may not be worth the hassle, since there are other appealing colors out there.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:14 PM on April 24, 2008

A colleague bought a mint green Mercedes. It had spent 2 years waiting at the dealership, and it had lost a third of it's value. It's not a good investment for the manufacturers. The Mint Superhero could not change the tide of fashion, so it´s up to you to introduce the color of the future...
posted by Psychnic at 1:46 PM on April 24, 2008

Check out the Dodge La Femme of 1955-56. Not only was it pink, it came with a matching purse and umbrella!
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:52 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

klangklangston writes "I have seen both pink Mustangs and pink Hummers at dealerships (more than one) in the metro Detroit area. I had assumed that they were manufactured, just in smaller numbers. However, I can't discount the idea that those were 'custom' (as much as any elaborately-optioned dealership car is). "

Many of the dealer special custom colours (and stuff like stripe packages) are the result of a car being damaged during transport or storage.
posted by Mitheral at 2:05 PM on April 24, 2008

Best answer: Consumerist.com: The average age of new car buyers in January 2007 was 43

I would imagine the potential market for pink cars kinda dries up at that age. Perhaps there would be a market in a country where the young were buying new cars, but in the US most younger people get by on used cars. This is why so many cars have "grandpa" styling.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:48 PM on April 24, 2008

pink thunderbird
posted by gen at 3:14 PM on April 24, 2008

Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller drives a bright pink Mini Cooper (don't ask how a 6 ft 6 inch tall 250lb guy fits in one tho!) But I guess when you are Penn Jillette you can paint your tiny car whatever color you like :)
posted by legotech at 3:56 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

As chrominance wrote here in Japan pink cars are not unusual with Honda, Toyota and Nissan offering models in various pink and metallic pink shades. They are usually the small Fit (Jazz?), Vitz (Yaris?), March (?) size carand k cars but some of the civic size are also available in pinkish shades. I am not so sure about the cherry blossom connection and think it is more about 'kawaii' or being cute.
posted by AndyM825 at 5:30 PM on April 24, 2008

I saw a pink Chevy Blazer the other day. Eye-popping pink. The paint job was perfect like it came out of the factory just that shade and I wouldn't have done a double-take, if it weren't for it being such a hey I'm a mancho man type of a vehicle.
posted by Jimmie at 8:06 PM on April 24, 2008

Audi TT
Porsche Boxster
Mini Cooper

BMW, Porsche, Audi and others offer paint to sample as a fairly inexpensive option, for those of you who need more pink. Most people don't take advantage of these options though, since it can delay delivery by a large number of months.
posted by Project F at 10:52 PM on April 24, 2008

I just remembered, I used to own a pink '57 Chevy Nomad like this one.
posted by Rafaelloello at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2008

Did Nissan really name that car the moco? That's pretty damn funny. (For non-Spanish speakers, 'moco' means 'booger'.)
posted by jquinby at 9:12 AM on April 25, 2008

The Mary Kay cosmetics company still offers pink Cadillacs as sales incentives

Ah, that explains the big pink sedan I'd see around LA's South Bay in the late 1980s -- it had a bumper sticker which read WE WON IT.
posted by Rash at 12:22 PM on April 25, 2008

« Older How come we aren't all mutants?   |   Chicago banks and credit unions, redux Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.