Country cars: Grey is the new silver for Ballarat buyers

The BMW M3 in spectacular blue. However, a BMW sold in Ballarat is more likely to be white or silver.

The BMW M3 in spectacular blue. However, a BMW sold in Ballarat is more likely to be white or silver.

IF YOU think Ballarat streets lack colour, you'd be right.

A quick survey of Ballarat car dealers shows most drivers want cars which are grey, white, silver or black, regardless of brand.

And dark grey is the new silver (which only a decade ago was "the new white").

There are some bright spots within each brand's line-up, however, and even a couple of brands which revel in red.

Dark grey (or titanium or charcoal or a myriad of other names) was number one for Audi, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota, reflecting its status as Ballarat's sensible colour of choice.

It was also popular among Ford, Jeep, Peugeot and Volkswagen buyers (second most popular), and was a medallist at Holden, Mitsubishi and Hyundai (third most popular).

Long the default setting for light commercials, white has made a comeback too, particularly among prestige brands.

White was number one at Mercedes-Benz and BMW, along with aspirational brands like VW, Jeep and Chrysler, and Hyundai.

It remains king of the commercials as well, making it number one at Mitsubishi (thanks to the Triton in particular), Renault, and at Great Wall where white was described as "our number one, two and three favourite colour".

Silver has top billing at Ford, while black gets the gold medal at Fiat and Suzuki, and "champagne" for Peugeot.

Black, white and silver, meanwhile, are neck and neck every year for Kia, according to Brett Bedggood of Bedggood Kia.

Holden and Alfa Romeo buyers are loud and proud about their colour selections, with red taking top spot.

Not surprisingly, Nigel Stephenson of Peter Stevens Alfa Romeo said "red is far and away our number one".

We also asked each of the brands in Ballarat to nominate a wild card - a model which defies the grim trend.

And from the behind the monochrome gloom, a rainbow appears.

Among the prestige brands, red makes its appearance among the smallest cars in each family.

The Audi A3 Sportback, BMW 2-Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are all most popular in a shade of rouge.

Red is also a hero for the Honda Jazz and Mazda3.

Orange bursts forth at Toyota (with the Corolla hatch and 86 sports car), Holden (Trax and Colorado), and as a popular colour for the Kia Sportage as well.

Various shades of blue are proving a hit among some of the sportier hatches, such as the Volkswagen Golf R, the Peugeot 208 and Fiat 500.

Ford Focus and Suzuki S-Cross buyers make a statement with bright yellow (it's "Tangerine Scream", Eclipse Ford's Marty Cassar inists), and the Hyundai Veloster rolls with bright green.

Then there are those whacky Citroen DS4 owners who like "Burnt Hickory". Well, who doesn't?

Colour is a personal matter for buyers but when it comes to resale time, not all colours are equal.

"It makes a huge difference," Ballarat City Used Cars manager Steve Strick explains.

"Silver, white and grey are easy colours to sell second-hand.

"A lot of people don't like black but a white one, we will be able to put maybe $1000 more on it." 

Mr Strick said unusual colours can be a risk but can also pay off - but only on the right car. 

"For your bright yellows and greens you need to find the right buyer," he said. "But, say a bright yellow Ford Falcon XR6, it still excites us because it attracts a bit of attention on the yard when surrounded by grey and silver cars. It has to be something a bit out there like a Holden SS Ute, a Monaro or even a Mazda SP23, though. Something run-of-the-mill with a set of hubcaps doesn't cut the mustard." 

Are there colours a used car retailer wouldn't touch?

"Yes," Mr Strick says with a laugh. "Brown. No one likes brown."

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