Hammer Time: Colors


Once upon a time, certain colors were rolling representations of a brand or model.

Range Rovers were often green.  Many a Mercedes was emblazoned in gold or brown. Chrysler minivans could be had in a baby blue or a Barney purple, and everything from a Chevy pickup truck to a Toyota MR2 could be given a bright yellow paint job that ranged somewhere between ‘mustard’ and ‘zonker’.

Now whenever I get these colors at my lot, they don’t sell. Not even if I zonk them with a lower price.


I have a green 1998 Volvo  V70 wagon with all the options, a dealer maintenance history, and a reasonable 166k miles. All for $2300.


It won’t sell for the same reason why the kermit green 1999 Isuzu Rodeo 4WD won’t sell. Nobody wants that color. At least not in the last six months.

Now before you think I am losing my marbles as a longtime car dealer, let me just say that the Volvo wagon cost me all of $1115 at a Carmax auction while the Rodeo is a trade-in that I did manage to finance to a local pastor for a bit over a year.

Despite the calls for eternal damnation that quickly followed my repossession of that Isuzu, I am not hurting for anything at this point with either one of the two vehicles. Although my weakness for Volvo wagons may eventually have terminal consequences on my bottom line, and a 14 year old green Isuzu isn’t exactly the embodiment of anything good to me other than a marketing train wreck.

To be brutally blunt,  I just don’t want to keep staring at these two wallflowers when I do my daily walk around the lot. Other dealers in my neck of the woods also have the exact same type of predicament when it comes to their inventory. Some of the great colors of yesteryear are no longer considered even passable to the modern day consumer.


Take a 2007 Volvo S80 in gold. Let me rephrase that. Would you please take a 2007 Volvo S80 in gold with 105k for all of $11,000?

A friend of mine bought it nearly a year ago for that price. Since then it has gone from $15,995 to $14,995… to beg… to plead… to back of the lot… to a 4000 pound barnacle on his balance sheet. He can’t sell it. I have driven it several times (he knows I have a weakness for Volvos) and to be frank, I believe this car is an infinitely better value than say, a 2007 Camry XLE with the same level of mileage.


However no Camry is considered gold these days. It’s a ‘champagne’ car . I took note of this salient fact when I bought her a Camry at an auto auction near West Palm Beach not too long ago. My marching orders were to find her a ‘gold’ car she could use to transport her friends to the usual blue plate specials and B-list shows that are apparently popular in her neck of the woods.

Once I transported that ‘better be gold’ car from the auction to the nearby retirement community, the car all of a sudden became ‘champagne’ to all of her friends.


Champagne is a reminder of those old black and white movies of the 1930’s thru 1950’s.  Where ladies and men dressed in their finest unbreathable outfits, and talked with thick Transatlantic accents about nothing in particular.


Champagne represents the good life of the silver screen to my mom’s generation. While gold is something you keep in the safety deposit box at the local bank.

When I took my mom out the other day, she saw my friend come by in that gold Volvo and once again, fell in love with the color.

She will be trading the Camry straight up for the Volvo S80. A win-win for both parties. My mom gets a dealer maintained from day one,  top of the line $60,000+ luxury car with an extended warranty that has a  5-star rating  from a long list of  actual owners. While my friend gets a car that he can market to a sub-prime customer for what will hopefully yield a mid-five figure profit.

Now I just need to find two people that like the color green. Something tells me I’ll be waiting for quite a while.