Some automotive paint hues are timeless—red or black, for example, never go out of style—while others become immediately emblematic of their era. Let’s just say we find it weird there are very few burnt orange Mercedes-Benz sedans with matching hubcaps anymore. But today, let’s talk about this retro Panther, and whether it rocks a green that speaks singularly of the Seventies.
Are you out on the road right now? If so, see if you can pull yourself away from reading this and look at all the cars and trucks around you. See em? What do you suppose is the average age of the traffic around you right there, five, maybe seven years old?
Now, notice the colors of all those cars. What’s the most common one out there? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess it’s going to be white, or maybe black or silver. You know how I know that? Because I’ve read the 2017 Axalta Coating Systems Global Automotive Color Popularity Report (yes, this IS what I do in my spare time) and those are in the top three.
The whole list in order:
- White — 39 percent
- Black — 16 percent
- Gray – 11 percent
- Silver – 11 percent
- Blue – 7 percent
- Red – 6 percent
- Beige – 5 percent
- Yellow/Gold – 3 percent
- Green – 1 percent
- Others — 1 percent
Geez, that’s pretty dull. I mean, dull like boring, not like matte. I should probably have clarified that.
I think it’s been kind that way for way too long now too. A number of cool colors are pushing their way out—vibrant oranges, electric greens, and a few that defy description, but that begs the question, do we need new colors? After all, we have a whole bunch of them to play with already.
And that brings us back to this Panther J2 that I spotted at a recent all-British car meet here in Los Angeles, and its, um... interesting paint. Now, the J2 is an odd bodkin of a car. Its retro styling was intentionally old school back in the ‘70s when it was built. Today, owing to its age, it’s not just retro, it’s old.
Panther Westwinds based the look of the J2 on that of the 1936-41 Jaguar SS100, and liberated the mechanicals from that marque’s contemporary XJ saloons for their homage. Its ‘70s origins however are given away by two stand-out features—the sealed beam headlamps looking lost in their oversized chrome bullet housings, and that freaking olive green paint.
I’ve decided to christen the color ‘British Retching Green’ and it stands in striking contrast to the traditional ‘British Racing Green’ as was worn by a Morgan, just a few steps away at the same show.
Yes, we should also acknowledge the fact that the Mog is wearing Volkswagen wheels on adapters, but that’s a conundrum for another time. Now we need to focus on the difference between a timeless color like this car’s BRG, and the seemingly ‘70s-only hue on the Panther.
A lot of colors are emblematic of the ‘70s, from the Russet Brown that seemed to cloak every other car to leave the British Isles during the decade, to sickly yellows and nausea inducing decal packages that plagued American iron.
Sure, there were interesting colors that emerged during the ‘70s—colors with great names like ‘Plum Crazy’ ‘Sassy Green’ and ‘Amber Sherwood’ just to name a few. Some of those colors have even seen a resurgence in modern times.
British Retching Green however, seems forever a captive of the Disco decade, and maybe that’s for the best. In fact, I think this color, on this Panther, gets my nomination for the most emblematic 1970s color imaginable.
You will no doubt agree. However, should you not, you’ll just have to come up with your own nominee. Let’s figure this out people. If this isn’t the most ‘70s color ever, then what is?