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COLUMN: Why I hate Whiteys & Darkies

2008-03-20 07:03

Morgan Naidu

AT the risk of being drawn into all the racial debates and polarising water-cooler chat going on in the country, I must declare why it is that I hate Whiteys and Darkies.

On the surface the one is just plain and simple boring while the other - well there are just too many of them quite frankly.

It has taken me years to get to this point and there has been much soul-searching, perusing the depths of my mind's eye to finally arrive at that point where I can admit it.

Hello, my name is Morgan and I am an automotive racist.

Give me a big and beautiful gleaming Jag; a superquick Audi R8 or even a plucky little Kia Picanto - just make sure it's exterior is neither white nor black.

In a nation with a history such as ours, it's not surprising that we are obsessed with matters colour-related, from the makeup of our rugby and cricket squads to the skin-lightening or tanning creams and treatments that we spend millions on.

But, it is the colours of cars that seem to have marked us out as consumers from the diverse communities in our country.

We can look at a Chevy Lumina the colour of Barney-purple and infer that it must be some charou from Lenasia who simply wanted something different that "stands out".

Or a gleaming metallic black Range Rover and just know that it's a hip and happening young member of the ANC Youth League on his way back from closing a massive BEE deal.

Or how about the bright yellow BMW M3s, Volvos and VW Beetles that we associate with Afrikaans-speaking motorists or the anecdotal evidence as to why young black township dwellers will choose any colour but white for their cars.

There are "colour studies", too

Do a quick check through recent car history and international surveys like DuPont that track colour popularity and you will find that until very recently silver cars were the most popular in the world.

Perhaps it was the neutrality of the colour or the fact that it matched the mood and weather of grey and wintry Europe from which much of our brands hail.

Alas, silver lost its title to that ol' fashioned supremacist White, while in South African terms Black suddenly shot up the ladder to become the new White.

Even before the days of the empowerment index and BEE charter, diamond black was a popular choice for buyers of the Renault Clio range.

When the age of the high-spending high-earning black diamond consumer was declared then suddenly White broke through the colour barrier again to become the ... er ... new Black.

In the last colour survey by DuPont there was speculation that motorists were switching to the so-called niche colours and effects - something seen here as well as buyers went for fascinating hues that dance and shimmer in the sunlight.

Car colour trends, claim DuPont, closely mirror actual fashion movements, perhaps suggesting that soon we may see lava-lamp exteriors and door handles covered in faux suede.

"White also is considered a fashion statement. The car you drive is a fashion statement, and consumer preferences for white agree.

"White pearl itself is a combination of many colours, allowing an ability to change, reflecting, in effect, layers of white," said one Leatrice Eiseman, author and director of an international colour institute.

She went on to predict the upswing of vibrant colours as more motorists opted for customisation.

Perhaps it is trivial, in a nation caught up in angst across political, social and criminal fronts that we obsess so much about the very thing that we see the least of when driving our cars - the colour.

Perhaps we should campaign for colour co-ordinated dashboards and steering wheels - at least then we could appreciate the hues directly.

There are many points of view to peruse in this great car colour debate and yes, we are not exactly discussing world peace or finding an end to poverty, but still I must stubbornly resist White and Black.

Proudly South African?

Evidently, the car makers and distributors have heard my call and in recent years have become increasingly creative with the exotic naming of colour schemes. It's not enough to offer White, but Pearlescent White.

Blue is simply not blue anymore but Sapphire Silver Blue Metallic! There's Platinum Bronze and Sparkling Graphite and then there's the case of two car brands that have Oysters in their lineup: an Oyster Gold for the one and an Oyster Grey Metallic for the other! Go figure.

No car brand has been brave enough to offer us colour schemes in the local lingo as yet. So we have no BEE Black (metallic or solid), no Voortrekker White and alas no Lens Lava Purple or Bliksem Blue...

For the Rainbow Nation, our colour choices have been pretty one-dimensional if the surveys are to be believed.

Which leads me to my original point on my hatred for the two colours that have dominated the colour charts for so long. Perhaps its time we had a coloured (or colourful) approach to our cars!


Bullet: Name, set and match!

2012-04-16 16:47

Inside Wheels24

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