Clarkson on: car colours
Now that I’ve been officially recognised by GQ magazine as the second-worst-dressed man in Britain, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on matters of style.
You see, Jonathan Ross spends hours and thousands of pounds looking as bad as he does, and it’s the same story with Graham Norton. He has to agonise for days over how much tinsel should be attached to those suits and where it should go, whereas I can achieve the same effect with absolutely no effort whatsoever.
I go into a clothes shop once every three years and buy a lot of whatever happens to be nearest to the door. I then wear it until it falls to pieces and I carry on wearing it, barging through the vicissitudes of fashion and the vagaries of climate change, until it’s time to go shopping again.
Today, for instance, I’m wearing a pair of jeans that are ripped at the knee. Some would say I’m trying to emulate the Eighties boy band Bros, and that this is ridiculous for someone of my age. But I’m not. There is a hole at the knee because the denim has worn out and I’m not scheduled to buy a new pair until May.
There are other jeans in my wardrobe that do not have holes in them, but by the time I discovered this pair does, it was too late. I’d have had to take them off again and, frankly, life’s too short for that. If the hole was where my penis lives, maybe. But the knee, to be honest, is something I don’t mind flashing in public.
People talk about ‘street’ fashion and show us lots of people wearing stuff no-one wears in any street I’ve ever been down. Whereas I blend. I look like you do. I wear the clothes you do. I hate shopping as much as you do. And that’s why you can listen to me, with confidence, when I explain what colour your next car should be.
For the last few years, we’ve been plumping for silver or gunmetal grey. This, according to people who don’t have proper jobs, is because in times of financial stability, we go for unassuming tones. Only when house prices are set to fall, and unemployment is on the rise, do we think about putting some colour and pizzazz into our wheels.
There may be some truth in this. I mean, if you cast your mind back to the late Seventies, when people were eating rats and wearing shoes made from onion peelings, orange was the colour of choice for those buying a Morris Ital. And mustard was in on the Allegro.
Today, the BMW 6-Series is available in grey, off-grey, grey with a hint of grey, and dark grey, whereas its forerunner from the Seventies, the old CSL, was available in red, white, lime green or orange. And the 1970 Ford Cortina 1600E came at you in gold or aubergine.
So, what do we think is going to be the ‘next big thing’. Well, we won’t be wanting grey or silvery grey because we’ve done that, and I can’t see mustard coming back in a big way either, mainly because I can’t see the economy going down the tubes any time soon.
“White doesn’t suit all cars. Buy a white Rolls-Royce Phantom, for instance, and people will assume you are Jennifer Lopez”
Smart has been trying to funk things up with a selection of spots and stripes, but this looks wilfully colourful, like a German game show host’s jacket. You know that underneath, all is dreary.
Then we have Honda and its pink Jazz. My mother bought one and then added a Barbie-pink fur steering wheel cover. It’s a look that won’t catch on, I fear.
This is because the colour she should have gone for is, surprisingly, white. White is coming back, just you mark my words.
Let’s examine the evidence. Duran Duran recently showed the world what ‘rock ’n’ roll’ really means by failing to turn up for Children In Need. Girls all over the BBC are flouncing around in ra-ra skirts and leg warmers. Tony Blair has gone mad. This means we’re moving back to the Eighties, and the car I had in 1982 was a white VW Scirocco.
Back then, we were coming out of the gloomy Seventies, and white, especially that pearlescent finish Audi used on the quattro, demonstrated that we were rich and prosperous. It’s why the Arabs went bonkers for white shortly after they realised they had the West by its short penis hairs. Strangely, though, the reason why 78 per cent of all cars sold in Japan are white has nothing to do with prosperity and everything to do with a lack of imagination.
Here’s the deal, then. We’ve been buying grey and silver while we waited for Gordon Brown to make a Horlicks of the economy, but he hasn’t. We’re just getting richer and richer, so now we can afford to show off a bit.
The car firms are on to this sea change. I recently test drove our Car of the Year, the Golf GTI, and in red I thought it looked OK. But in white it looks sensational, especially as it has lots of black air intakes to provide some relief.
It was the same story with the old Porsche 911 Turbo. That looked good in white because it had black rear wheelarch protectors and a big black-edged spoiler. And the XR3 pulled off the same trick using the same accessories.
Take a look at the new Land Rover Discovery. In green or blue it looks like it’s trying to be a Range Rover, and missing the mark. But in white, with all that tinted glass on the roof, it resembles an auxiliary transport module from Lunar Base X1. It looks great.
I have to say at this point that white doesn’t suit all cars. Buy a white Rolls-Royce Phantom, for instance, and people will assume you are Jennifer Lopez. And then there’s the Ford GT I’ve ordered. As is the way with these things, you give a car firm £130,000 and they spend the next nine months telling you what you can’t have. Pale blue with the orange Gulf stripe? No. Black with two yellow stripes? No.
There are six colours on offer and no, we can’t show you what they’re like. You’ll have to look on the Net. And they’re not really like that either.
White seemed like a safe bet, but I decided against it, partly because it will no longer be in vogue by the time the Americans have bought an atlas, found out where Britain is, and sent the car. And partly because white on a car with wide shut lines gives passers-by the impression it’s been made from Lego. All you see are the joins.
Red was too Ferrari. Yellow was too silly. Black was too boring. Silver was too bland, and that left me with blue. What sort of blue it is? I have no idea, because in the pictures on the website, the photographer’s used a yellow filter.
It may well turn out to be as hideous as a Linda Barker sofa, and people will laugh as I pull up. But they’ll stop laughing when I step out in my white pixie boots and my ice-white skiing jacket, because they’ll recognise someone who was clever enough to keep these things from when they were in fashion the first time around.