Hi ho silver: Gray cars dominate in Wilton

Brown will make you frown. Yellow turns out to be too mellow. Red has fled, and green is few and far between.

The most popular color for cars in Wilton appears to be silver/gray, according to a random and unscientific visual survey of cars in the parking lots of town hall and Wilton High School.

In the two main parking lots of those Wilton residents’ gathering places, there were 46 silver/gray cars, 26 black at a distant second, 15 white, six blue, seven tan, six red, two green, and one yellow.

Unusual colors like purple, orange or even pink were not to be found.

What does it say about Wilton car owners? It says they are interested in a car color that projects classiness, said Matt Wilson, marketing manager for Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton.

“I think it’s by choice,” Wilson said, pointing out that most people ask for silver/gray cars, so manufacturers produce lots of them. It turns out to be the most common car color nowadays, followed by black.

Only the dealers don’t call it silver/gray. They call it gun metallic.

“I think it’s classy, elegant and refined,” Wilson said. “People are reluctant to drive something that is flashy.”

Debra Hanson, executive director of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, has owned silver/gray cars. She said she always thought of it as a neutral color.

Her latest car, though, is white. White is the third most popular car color in town, and for a reason. Hanson said she heard it was the safest color on the road, and “it’s easy to spot in the parking lot. So far, that’s my experience.”

Symbolically, silver is the color of silver coins, and is a representation of wealth.

In a practical, everyday way, though, it has an even deeper meaning.

“I know it doesn’t show dirt as much as the lighter colored cars,” said graphics professor John Elward of Norwalk Community College.

“It’s the meaning of a color, and what it makes you experience,” said Joseph Fucigna, full professor and coordinator of the studio arts program at Norwalk Community College. “I think gray is kind of neutral. But silver has more of a metallic quality. I think of it as being very manufactured, a mechanical kind of feel, high-tech, maybe lack of emotion. Slick, clean. Where a red car is about red, and then about the car, silver is an equal balance between the car and the color.”

It’s a different story nationwide. Nationally, the most popular car color is white, according to  Jane Harrington, who’s a color styling manager in PPG Industries’ auto-paint unit. She was quoted in a recent issue of Fortune magazine.

Harrington said the next big color in cars is going to be blue.