The emperor’s new … car ?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a considerable number of brown cars on the road lately. 

I first observed this phenomenon in Berlin where I saw an inordinate number of high end BMWs and Mercedes finished in a shade that can only be described as “shit brown”. Why spend upwards of €120,000 only to drive around in something that looks like a giant turd ?

I’m sure that the sales people in the showrooms describe the hue as “Burnt Sienna” or “Burnished Auburn” or possibly even “Metallic Mahogany”, but I know, you know and they know it’s still “Poo Poo Pourri” to those of us living in the real world. 

Why, though ? 
Why now ?
I’d wager that not since the halcyon days of the Austin Allegro in the mid-late 70s have so many brown cars been driven with such apparent abandon as today.
Is the paint cheaper ? Maybe there’s a global shortage of silver paint – number 1 car colour in the UK, fact fans – or perhaps the price of red has risen due to a poor raspberry crop a couple of years ago ?

Or maybe it’s just fashion … or to put it in today’s parlance, “Brown is on trend”.
On the subject of management speak, I’ve noticed a lot of people using the word “signpost” instead of “send” or “show” lately, too.

They’re all at it, you know …

Even the big boys are in on it …

(How could they ? What next : Daniel Craig in a brown nylon lounge suit ?)


I’d like to place another bet please, bookmaker: namely that somebody somewhere at a car company conference recently said something along the lines of ” … um, guys, we really need to get the sales, um, guys to signpost customers to, um, Tawny Chestnut as a viable vehicle lifestyle choice because brown is really, um, on trend, guys …”

I’ve often thought that if you put the right logo on top of a presentation box, you could sell anything … but I never thought I’d see the principle illustrated so blatantly and in such an expensive way. 

The emperor is apparently fully dressed after all … 


To my mind, the only acceptable uses of any shade of brown for any kind of vehicle are as follows:
1. UPS delivery vans (this photo was taken in 1902, that’s how little they’ve changed down the years)

2. If it’s a classic Cadillac (bonus points for dressing like a pimp and listening to James Brown whilst behind the wheel)

3. If it’s a classic Firebird (admittedly more a shade of bronze, but we’re not going over all that again)

4. If you’re The Sweeney (and you haven’t had your dinner yet)

5. If you’re Bodie or Doyle (ask your dad about this one if you’re under 30)

6. If you live on Mars (or possibly Manchester in the 70s)

7. If it’s any classic Ford (not necessarily from the north or the 70s, but the natural habitat is always the best)

8. If it’s an Austin Allegro (also available in rust)

(incidentally, the shade I’ve used for the text in this rant is called “Burnt Orange)




2 thoughts on “The emperor’s new … car ?

  1. Can’t stop smiling at this….:) I’ve noticed this ‘new’ phenomenon too, the rehabilitation of automotive brown. Love the 70’s car porn pics too, rather especially that Allegro, complete with hydragas suspension on the blink..! Ah, the 70’s….why can’t we all go back there?

    • I knew two people who had them and they were constantly being repaired. I think they must be the worst British car ever made, apart from maybe the Morris Marina, but at least the latter looked quite stylish.
      The Allegro always reminded me of a jelly mould … or maybe blancmange as then it could be chocolate flavour to make it look right …

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