CC Color Commentary – Two Strange Two Tones



In a recent piece on a bustleback Cadillac Seville, a comment was made on the merits of two tone paint jobs on cars.  We all know that two-tone finishes became common in the 1950s.  As the decade wore on the accent color moved from the roof to the body.  With the start of the 1960s the accent color moved back to the roof, soon to be replaced with a vinyl top.  Two tone finishes had a brief resurgence in the late 70s and died out again some time during the 80s.

Beyond the merits on the two-tone treatment itself is the choices made in colors.  For the most part, auto manufacturers put a lot of thought into the combinations that would be offered and chose color palettes that contained complementary shades.  But sometimes things got a little weird.  Here are two examples from the 1950’s.

Like the ’57 Chevy that starts us off.  I have seen a bazillion 1957 Chevrolets in my day.  But never one like this.  The main part of the car looks like Sierra Gold . . .

. . .  a gorgeous 1950’s color that was more copper than gold and was usually seen matched with one of the two Ivorys.  They usually look more like this.  [Full disclosure: if I restored a ’57 Chevy I would want one exactly like the one above.]

Grecian Gold appears to be the other choice.  This one, while offered in 1957, seems to have been more popular in 1956, judging from the availability of pictures on the web.  Again, with the right accent color it was quite attractive.

But mixing the two?  While it might be hard to see how combining two different shades of “gold” on the same car could be a problem, well, the result speaks for itself.  Maybe if we do some minor adjustment to this underexposed photo . . . .

Nope.  Of course, we have no way to know if this car rolled from the factory this way.  Did someone’s pen slip when filling out the order sheet in 1957?  Or did some guy doing a restoration skip asking his wife’s opinion before ordering the paint?  We will never know.  We do know that this car is not quite correct in that it has the gold trim pieces of the Bel Air but has the 210’s paint in place of the silver metal panel that adorned the rear quarters of the Bel Air.  We also know that there is a difference between colors that are striking and colors that strike out.

This second example is one we can be pretty sure is a genuine original.  I recently came across this car online and stared at it for quite a little bit.  Everyone here knows that I am a fan of the last “big Studebakers” of 1956-58 and I find these station wagons to be particularly cool.  The ’58s, however, are a touch of a challenge for me.

Beyond the fins, the low-buck quad headlight conversion and the even lower-buck interior, Studebaker’s 1958 color chart was kind of . . . let’s call it interesting.  Three shades of gray in 1958?  Although I have not researched every one of these chips it appears that almost every color offered that year (with the exception of the Midnight Black) was a change-up from anything on the 1957 color chart.  I guess when you have very little money for restyling, the paint booth is one of the cheapest ways to make your car look new.  Side rant – why do all of these paint sample chips insist on calling any metallic paint “poly”?

Gold had a brief run of popularity in the late 1950s and especially so at Studebaker, where they built a Golden Hawk.  This 1958-only shade called White Gold was a common color for these cars and the Golden Hawk’s appeal probably made this color popular on the regular models too.  The Parchment White accent seemed to be paired with this hue most commonly.  And we are looking at these colors on Hawks because a decent set of pictures of the regular ’58 models in an assortment of colors is not easy to find.

The Jewel Beige is a bit more of a challenge for me.  I have never been a fan of these fleshy beiges that are not pink but not straight beige/tan either.  Although it does not go badly with the Canyon Copper on this Silver Hawk,

Or with the unusual Shadowtone Red (which it a bit on the purple side) on this Golden Hawk.  I will concede that the Jewel Beige kind of works in both of these examples, in a 1958 kind of way.  Although I am still wondering what kind of jewel is anything close to this color.

But this . . . just no.  Putting a Jewel Beige roof over a White Gold body on this wagon is something close to what the common law used to call a crime against nature.  Someone took a car with more than its share of visual challenges and ordered it in such a way as to make it perhaps the least attractive 1958 Studebaker wagon ever built.  But perhaps I am trying to apply normal tastes to a ’58 Big Stude – and maybe this is just something that should not be done.  I have looked at a lot of pictures of 1958 Studebakers and have probably seen every one of the colors these came in.  But I have never seen another one in this combination, which makes this one quite unique.  And even though these colors might not be my cup of tea, I hope that if the owner gets to the point of repainting the car he chooses these very factory colors.  When you have a visually challenging car to start with, you might as well go all the way with it – go big or go home.

I had kind of hoped to find a few more like these via online searches, but had no luck.  I suspect that we will only find these odd combinations today on original survivor cars, as most folks who decide to pop for a paint job will choose colors more in the mainstream (except for perhaps that fellow with the ’57 Chevy above).  But they are out there.  Perhaps you have seen one?