On the subject of Brown
Brown is anything but down to earth.
A color so ubiquitous it is often dismissed as a non-color: mud. A maligned hue that neverless offers an immense range of tones suggesting fall leaves, turned earth, raw wood, sandy rivers, dried tobacco, and excellent alcohols distilled from rye and corn.
For many years brown was generally viewed as the opposite of sexy. In the automotive world, particularly during the 1980s, brown was either utilitarian or completely ignored. It’s difficult to find a decent brown car from the ’80s and those that remain are anything but gorgeous. Personally, I think brown needs a better defense. Some of my favorite things are blessed enough to be colored this way: chocolate, coffee, tobacco, whiskey, and 1970s Porsche Turbos. But before we travel too far down that path, let’s examine the color’s scientific and cultural roots.
Based on the RGB color model, brown is created by combining the primary colors of my favorite holiday, Christmas; specifically red and green. As an English word it popped up a few years ago (in 1000 AD) and derived from the ancient Germanic ‘brunaz’. The color, as utilized by the hand of men was one of the very first in existence. Applied to rock walls in prehistoric times as umber (a much prettier word I might add). Sadly the abuse began early. As the adage reads, “familiarity breeds contempt” brown’s many years of use means that humans have been aware of the color for a very, very long time…the Romans called their own poor, ‘pullati’, translated to mean, “those dressed in brown”…contemptuous indeed. Even in modern times brown gets the short-stick, routinely labeled as America’s least favorite color.
This is a mistake. Brown is one of the best automotive hues and one that needs to be viewed through the lens of luxury, a true ascendence from its humble origins.
Lets start with the psychological underpinnings. Brown is the color of stability, structure, and support. All of which are positive aspects attributable to cars. In fact, how many automotive publications discuss the ‘increased structural rigidity’ of various models? Clearly these are great traits. But they hardly suggest a desire, a lust for attainment. Which is where we must dig a bit deeper into modern psychology to discover one of the most important aspects of the color, a word that is incredibly important when it comes to automobiles. You see brown is synonymous with one very important word: quality.
The definition of quality is multi-faceted to be sure, but the notion that a color of a car can evoke the feelings associated with quality is incredibly important. Brown is the color of the car of your dreams because it will not lose its essential ‘quality’. It is the right choice on a car you want to own for the long haul: the marriage not the fling. And in a world increasingly filled with colors meant to be inoffensive and boring it’s nice to stand out in the right way. Brown suggests you walk to the beat of your own, sophisticated drummer. To others, it encourages the notion that quality matters to you. At the same, its warmth and sensuousness indicate you are not made of cold steel but instead, a person of flesh and bone.
Brown, in today’s connected world of transient relationships, electronic devices, and endless versions of blue-gray, screams.
It screams taste.