Listen very carefully, everyone: two-tone paint jobs look terrible. Your car should be only one color.

As we close out another edition of the annual tuner-focused SEMA show — which this year actually featured some really cool stuff — I am reminded that many in the car community think that two-tone cars are actually "awesome." This is incorrect.

To be clear, I'm not talking about stripes, racing graphics, wood panels, decals or other small accents; I'm talking about when a significant portion of the car is colored differently than another. It almost never, ever looks good. (ETA: Race cars are exempt from this, for obvious reasons.)

Has there ever been a two-tone car that looked truly attractive? I don't think so. Even the "best" two-tone cars don't look as good as those with just one solid paint job.


Two-tone cars seem to exist mostly in three categories: cars at the top of the price spectrum, cars toward the bottom of the price spectrum, and tuner cars.

Let's start with one of the perennial offenders at the top of the food chain: the Bugatti Veyron. It's definitely an attention-grabbing machine, though it's not an especially beautiful one; it's designed more for function than form. But why does it always come in eye-searing combinations of black, red, neon orange, or bright blue?


Now look at the Veyron in solid black. Doesn't it look so much better? Yes. Yes it does. That's classy, right there. Black and neon orange are not classy.

Here's another one that looks god awful in two-tone: the Rolls-Royce Wraith. In general, the Wraith isn't an especially pretty car, compromised thanks to the clash of its sloping roofline with the traditionally squarish Rolls grille. The inevitable two-tone paint does it no favors.


Is two-tone paint supposed to make you look rich? Like, you can afford two paints? It just makes people question your judgement.

Take also the BMW i8. Definitely eye-catching for a lot of reasons, including its futuremobile design. Most of the ones we see in stock photos and around town are silver and black. But look how much better it looks with just one color! In black, the i8 looks downright sinister.


Two-tone paint is especially popular in the tuner world. It's as if someone, somewhere, decided that two colors would be synonymous with incredible speed and power. The black stripe down the center is a popular choice.

Instead of looking good, it looks not good. Bad, even.


But even more pedestrian cars can dabble with the two-tone scheme every now and then. Remember the Toyota Camry of the late 1990s? Of course you do; those things used to be everywhere at one point.

Like any good Camry, it was designed to be as inoffensive as possible. But some buyers thought going for the two-tone option would somehow make the car look more premium. Does that look premium to you? (As I recall, the Lexus ES300 of the same era was mostly two-tone; it also looks better in a single color.)


Here's a two-tone 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity. Everything about this car was unfortunate, and that includes the paint job. It doesn't make the car look more upscale!

So what cars do look with two-tone paint jobs, you ask? In the interest of full disclosure, I drive a blue Mini Cooper S with a white top. I also think it looks better when the body matches the roof, but I don't mind it because it's kind of a subtle accent with historic roots.


Then you've got all those great American cars from the 1950s, back when two-tone was a pretty common choice. It's awfully hard to hate on these cars, with their bright paint schemes and tail fins, rolling symbols of postwar optimism that they were. The two-tone was appropriate to the time, and somehow, it just looks way more classic than a Bugatti Veyron decked out in Pittsburgh Steelers colors.

Some two-tone cars are okay. But as a general rule, one color is the better way to go. That's merely what I think, anyway.


Do you think two-tone cars look good? Please feel free to share your (wrong) opinion in the comments.