Update: OK, Porschephiles, you’ve read what we think. Now we want to hear from you. Take our survey on Porsche colors here.
Choosing a car color is a near universal experience, and a mundane one for most—77 percent of the cars sold in North America last year were white, black, silver, or gray, according to chemical company BASF. Yet for those of us who see cars as part of our identity, paint color is something more. Drive a Hugger Orange Camaro, a Laguna Seca Blue BMW, or even a Dorado Brown Saab, and you’re saying something about yourself and your very particular taste.
We wondered something else: Does a car’s color impact its value? Of course, we’ve all seen the case studies—the car that attracted extra bids because it wore just the right shade of yellow. But does paint color impact color car values on a more widespread basis?
To find out, we examined 3500 sales at live auctions and online auction platforms such as Bring a Trailer, Cars & Bids, and PCARMARKET dating back to 2013. We focused on Porsche, a marque famous for letting its customers taste the rainbow. There’s a comprehensive website, Rennbow.org, as well as events dedicated to the wide variety of shades that Porsche has painted its cars.
The first, clear conclusion, is that color indeed correlates to differences in value. Across Porsche models, we saw swings of nearly $3000 above or below average based on shade, with yellow cars tending to earn the most and green the least.
Moreover, we saw variance in the likelihood that a car would sell at all. Sell-through rates for blue Porsches, for instance, tended to be higher than red.
Knowing that the Porsche market has been rather volatile in recent years and for certain cars—in particular the surging and sometimes speculative interest in air-cooled 911s—we also broke out sell-through by year and model. No surprise, certain “wild” colors, like green, tend to show bigger swings. Also no surprise: the best color for a classic 911 is orange.
Ideally, the data would allow us to precisely calculate that Bali Blue is worth more or less than Baltic Blue. However, the variety of models, conditions, and periods meant we had to generalize. (Sorry, purple, you’re too rare for your own category.) We did break out results by shade here. Have fun poking around, but keep in mind the sample size for some of these shades is extremely small and thus should be taken with a healthy grain of salt.
That said, our clearest takeaway, aside from the fact that color clearly does correlate to trends in values, is that the so-called “safe” colors—white, black, and silver/gray—are at best mid-pack when it comes to sell-through rates and value. So, if that silver 997 really speaks to you, go for it, but don’t buy it because you expect a surer return on your investment.