Yearning for one of those look-at-me orange or yellow cars, but afraid it's too flashy for you? Well, now you have a sound financial reason to show your true colors.
A study by automotive website iSeeCars.com shows that orange and yellow cars hold their value the best. Orange vehicles from 2013 saw an average depreciation of 21.6 percent, while yellow cars declined 22 percent. By comparison, the average 2013 car saw a depreciation of nearly 30 percent.
With cars that sold new for $30,000, a three-year-old orange car would be worth $2,460 more than the average car of that year, while the yellow car would be worth $2,340 more.
Why should orange and yellow cars be worth more than the most popular colors, like black, white, silver and gray? It is a question of supply and demand, said Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars.com., which surveyed 1.6 million sales of 2013 cars over the year ending June 30.
"The more unusual colors such as orange and yellow are not as readily available, yet they are popular with enough buyers to create a demand that directly affects their resale value," he said.
Orange and yellow also tend to be favorite colors for what might loosely be called modern muscle cars, such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, as well as high-performance sports cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper.
In addition, orange sports and muscle cars in the survey averaged about 25 percent lower mileage on the odometer than the average 2013 car. Ly suggests that's because most owners do not use these cars for their daily commute.
Orange cars have been a lot more visible on streets and highways in recent years, but the color has a long history. The original 1964 ½ Ford Mustang came in a color called Poppy Red that, despite its name, was clearly orange. With its 1970 models, Ford owned up to the true color with a shade called Grabber Orange.
More recently, the Dodge Challenger offered an orange hue through the 1990s, and the car is still available in that color. Ford Mustang has continued to offer orange options, calling the color Competition Orange on current models. Chevrolet Camaro had Inferno Orange from the 2010 to 2013 models, then Red Rock Metallic (really orange) for 2014 and 2015. Current Camaros do not offer an orange choice.
High-performance sports cars like Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper still come in orange, and Jeep Wrangler has recently added it.
Here are some more colorful specifics from the iSeeCars.com study.
- The most popular colors show about average depreciation. According to the most recent annual study by paint supplier PPG, white is the most popular color, accounting for 23 percent of cars sold in North America. Next comes black (19 percent), gray (17 percent) and silver (15 percent). All these colors are near the average of 29.8 percent depreciation for the average 2013 used car.
- Green is the third-best color for depreciation after orange and yellow. It has about a 2 percent new-car selection rate and a depreciation rate of 24.5 percent for 2013 cars -- 5.3 percentage points better than the average car.
- Red is nothing special for resale value. I have always thought of red as the car color you picked if you wanted to be flashy. But red cars, chosen by 10 percent of new car buyers, are almost exactly average in resale value for three-year-old models.
The vehicle color with the lowest resale value? Gold. The study found cars that color depreciated an average of 33.5 percent, by far the worst for any color. That means a 2013 gold car was worth $2,610 less than average.
"Gold cars are mostly sedans, and they have been in lower demand," Ly said.