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A car's color impacts its resale value.

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Talk about 50 shades of grey. The most popular new-car colors these days are all monochromatic hues, specifically grey, white, black and silver, which account for 72 percent of all vehicles sold in North America, according to the automotive paint company PPG Industries in Pittsburgh.

But as it turns out, buying a car or truck painted in one of the lesser-used hues can actually help boost its resale value, with yellow cars bringing back the most bucks, with resale values that average 18.5 percent higher than the norm. That’s according to a recent study of over 2.1 million used car sales conducted by the used-vehicle site iSeeCars.com in Boston.

Other car colors that enable better-than-average resale values are likewise bright and cheerful, and include orange (plus 7.8 percent resale values), green (plus 6.9 percent) and red (plus 1.4 percent).

At the other end of the vehicular spectrum, gold is far from being precious, with three-year-old Midas-colored models valued at 12.1 percent less than the average used car. Other colors that take a bigger-than-average hit at trade-in time include purple (minus 10.7 percent) and beige (minus 10.3). The most common car colors — white, black, and gray — depreciate at a rate very close to average. We’re featuring the full list in the accompanying box.

Is this a case of brightly colored cars simply standing out in a crowded used-car lot that’s otherwise occupied by dull and oddly painted rides, attracting buyers like honey bees to sunflowers, or is there something else going on?

“Yellow cars are relatively less common, which could drive up demand and help maintain their value,” says iSeeCars.com’s CEO Phong Ly. “Our analysis shows that yellow vehicles have the lowest depreciation of any color for lower-volume cars like convertibles. Interestingly, yellow is also the color with the least depreciation for popular body styles like SUVs and pickup trucks.” 

According to the website, yellow pickups depreciate only 25.8 percent over three years, compared to 30.9 percent for the average hauler, while yellow SUVs lose a mere 10.9 percent of their original value over the same period, which is nearly half the segment average of 20.9 percent, according to the website’s data.

Though yellow, orange and green are not particularly common colors — they only make up 1.2 percent of all three-year-old cars says Ly — other particularly scarce hues like beige, purple, and gold (accounting for a mere 0.7 percent of the market) rank rock-bottom in terms of resale values. And that applies to pickups and SUVs as well as passenger cars. “Across almost every body style, gold vehicles have some of the worst depreciation rates of any color,” Ly says.

In an earlier study, iSeeCars.com determined that male motorists are most attracted to flashy yellow and orange cars and trucks, while women were most-often drawn to teal, gold, and silver models. “Men favor pickups and sports cars more than women do, and those segments have an unusually high percentage of yellow and orange cars,” Ly explains “The same is true for some of women’s favorite body styles — SUVs and minivans — which have more teal and gold cars than average."

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