Study found that yellow cars depreciate the least among 3-year-old models. - IMAGE: Pexels/Erik McIean

Study found that yellow cars depreciate the least among 3-year-old models.

IMAGE: Pexels/Erik McIean

A friend of mine who’s a Mazda Miata loyalist recently bought a used one from its original owner and sent it to a shop for a custom paint job. A lover of retro experiences, she chose a certain light blue that she feels gives it a traditional car color, in addition to making it unique on the road.

I’ve regretted having never sought out a special color for my own cars, sticking with variations on safe silver, except for the Chevy Nova I inherited when I got my license at age 16 in its cream-colored unglory.

In fact, it turns out that beige is one of the safest car colors, according to an analysis of 13 colors by It examined depreciation rates of 3-year-old models based on their colors, finding that beige pickups, for instance, maintain value the best. White, black and my silver depreciate at average rates, it found.

But it turns out that less conservative colors, at least some, are also safe. The study found that yellow, of all shades, depreciates the least in 3-year-old cars: 13.5%, followed by beige, at 17.8%, and, surprise, orange, at 18.4%. Too bad I never got that bright yellow Honda Prelude I coveted in high school.

Average depreciation among the 3-year-old set is 22.5%, and white, black and silver hover near that. The worst performer of all, for some reason iSeeCars didn’t specify, is gold, at 25.9%.

It didn’t delve into what I call the Urban Decay colors, after my favorite eye shadow palettes, that proliferate late-model style today, the matte drab olives and gun-metal grays. They seem to match the dystopian feel of the Covid era that I think we’d all like to leave behind. But then I suppose it’s nice to have a choice in how one presents oneself in everyday travels. Our vehicles, especially driving itself, have long been an expression of our sacred American individuality.

Resale value aside, I’d love to interview a color expert to get at the psychology of color choice when it comes to cars. I think we can guess the relevance of shades like red and orange – virility, maybe? And those neutral colors have to be more about practicality and perhaps an incognito cover in the crowd.

I think my friend with the Miata is making the best choice of all, her preferred car colored from an off-market palette in something like that sky-blue eyeshadow so popular in the ‘70s. Our cars, after all, can transport us in more ways than one.

About the author
Hannah Mitchell

Hannah Mitchell

Executive Editor

Hannah Mitchell is executive editor of Bobit's Dealer Group. She's a former newspaper journalist. Her first car was a hand-me-down Chevrolet Nova.

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