Data Dive

Do MOPAR's famously wild colors bring more money at auction?

by John Wiley
21 April 2022 3 min read
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MOPAR muscle cars wore famously vibrant paint colors. Some, like the Curious Yellow on this 1971 Challenger, tend to be worth extra money on the classic car market.. Photo by Mecum

Muscle cars, the darlings of the classic car market of the early 2000s, are front and center once again. Our latest Hagerty Price Guide update has revealed which models and specs are the most sought-after. Many are what you’d expect: Big blocks bring more, as do convertibles in many cases. We have never, however, taken a deep dive into the most visible option on 1960s muscle cars—their paint colors. The High-Impact color palette of 1960s and ’70s MOPARs in particular typified the free spirit of their era, and frequently cross auction blocks. The extreme colors sometimes clash with the traditional muscle car image (we’re looking at you, FM3 Moulin Rouge/Panther Pink) but can be valuable because of their rarity or the additional outrageousness. Looking through years of auction results, we can find out which hues are the ones to have and which ones can be overlooked.

Courtesy Stellantis


MOPAR vehicles make an excellent study not just for their vibrance, but also for their informative VINs, which are far from a given in pre-1981 vehicles. By using our decoder, we can get rid of “noise” in the data, such as cars come to sale with non-original engines and, presumably, bring less money.

Starting with auction transactions as far back as 2010, we used the VIN to determine the correct Hagerty Price Guide values at the date of the transaction. Next, we accounted for condition using our 1-4 rating, and adjusted for 4-speeds or automatics (where applicable). In addition to excluding engine swaps, we knocked out anything with major modifications or rarely found sunroofs. That left us with nearly 1300 transactions labeled with the color the car was painted at the time of the sale. (We didn’t distinguish cars that were repainted a correct but non-original color from those that wore their as-originally built color.) We then calculated the premium or discount of each color from that set.

What did we find? Hope you like yellow—or more precisely Citron Yella/Curious Yellow. It netted the largest premium at 17 percent. More generally, the rare colors tend to be most valuable. In contrast, the more common EV2 Tor-Red/Hemi Orange has almost no premium relative to the overall market. However, commonly found FC7 In Violet/Plum Crazy carries a premium. Who knew that purple muscle cars were so desirable?


Outside of the High-Impact colors, some of the darker colors tend to be worth less while the more vibrant bright colors are often worth a bit more. Here, rarity doesn’t seem to play a role. Uncommon FT6 Burnt Tan/Dark Tan and FY4 Citron Mist/Light Gold aren’t that valuable, while common EB5 Blue Fire/Bright Blue is more valuable than average.


Some models, engines, and body styles tend to wear certain colors better than others. We invite you to see how the market views your favorite configuration in the interactive app below. Note that in both of the static charts above the overall market average is subtracted out, but the interactive chart below does not have that adjustment.

So, yes, paint color does matter, at least when it comes to the values of MOPAR muscle. Of course, the reason these paint colors are fun in the first place is that they allow for personal expression. Don't go respraying your Sublime Challenger Panther Pink on my account—especially since my favorite MOPAR color is Turbine Bronze Metallic.

Bonus:

Wondering how often a particular color has sold at auction since 2010? Here are the most and least common:

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Comments

  • Terry Micklos says:

    do not agree with the FJ-5 analysis it’s rare a 70 big block FJ-5 comes across the block and when does command big money ie; 70 440 Rally pack Cuda – color added big to value

  • Wayout says:

    I worked at a paint and varnish company in Detroit as a color matcher back in those days. For fun we would paint all kinds of things in that violet/plum crazy color. I had the grooviest shoes in town.

  • MERLIN BALKE says:

    One thing I know, I’d never buy/own a MOPAR painted one of their greens.

  • George says:

    BIG Mopar fan here! Cool article … bit surprised by the last place finish for bronze.
    Always thought this era of muscle looked good in bronze.
    Viper tried it years later … no so good.

  • Greg says:

    I’d like to find a valve for a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T-SE IN FM3 or Panther pink. Automatic with a 383 engine

  • Gerald Hajny says:

    When I joined the Air Force in 1975, I went shopping for a used car. I got it down to two choices; a 1972 Trans Am, 455HO, white with blue stripe and a 1969 Plymouth SuperBird, lime green. I chose the Trans Am because:
    1. I liked the color, hated the lime green
    2. The trans Am was way more advanced, 4-wheel disk brakes, independent suspension, activecair induction, real working air scoops and vents.
    3. The Trans Am handled much better. The Superbird was really a rough ride, seemed more suitable for the drag strip than daily driving on curvy roads.
    4. The Trans Am had girls coming around to see who was driving the car. The Superbird had car guys coming around to see who was driving the car

    The choice was obvious!

  • Doug S says:

    Excellent article on an interesting subject. Comprehensive but still easily understood. My favorite B-body color is GA4 Light Gunmetal/Winchester Grey, very rare but nicely understated. For E-body’s, you can’t go wrong with B7 dark blue, but that looks good on any Pony car.

  • Bill Miller says:

    I had a 1967 Coronet 440 2 door hardtop. 383, 4 speed. Silver with black interior. Lost it in an accident. I do miss that thing. Now they’re mostly unaffordable!!

  • Joe Gibbs says:

    Curious how my FJ6 Sassy Grass ‘Cuda V code 440-6 Shaker hood auto #’s match works out…

  • Dan W Rasmussen says:

    As a long time Hagerty Customer with multiple Mopars insured with them, including FC7 and FM3 JS27N0B Challenger Convertibles and having to defend the rarity of the FM3 vs the FC7 (0.4% vs 23.2%) of 1070 of JS27 total production when trying to insure the realistic values, I am encouraged to see this article and have two questions. 1.) Are the Auction by color sales based on numbers matching colors based on Build sheet / fender tag or rather by whatever color the car wears as it crosses the stage regardless of its original color? 2.) Do your customer service reps that negotiate the value of the car with the client have access to this premium by color data..it sure doesn’t seem so….

    • John Wiley says:

      Glad to see you appreciate the article. To answer your questions, as described, 1) the auction color sales are not based on what paint the car was built with, but what it wore at the time of the sale. For auction results, we have access to VIN data, which allows us to exclude cars with engine swaps, but not many data plates. Someone else can figure out what is the most popular color to be replaced and what is the most popular color new color. 2) This is new research so our underwriters are just looking at it. The Hagerty Price Guide values are the best place to start when determining appropriate insurance, but if it appears inadequate, this color guide could help.

  • Spike Freeman says:

    100% Agree with Terry,FJ5 Limelight is the BEST color EVER!!! Its an iconic Mopar only statement,we have all seen,white,black,red,blue,silver even yellow (which I personally wouldnt choose)cars.But the Limelight CUDA with black and chrome accents is the epitome of a badazz muscle car ,it makes a BOLD statement

  • jane don says:

    Yup-Color makes a big difference–That’s why I’m So amazed that Cars/ homes ect are painted so Drab nowadays (white or colors with tones of Grey added) -Borring-

  • Kowalski says:

    I was always a big Hemi Orange fan. Surprised to see it devalues the vehicle

    • John Wiley says:

      Hemi Orange doesn’t devalue the vehicle. It carries a near-zero percent premium. The Vitamin C Orange/Go Mango has a discount.

  • Bruce Stocker says:

    I get a kick out of these types of articles. When it comes down to it, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What looks great to one person is terrible-looking to the next. What seems exciting to one is boring to another. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks!

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