How Apple made white the most popular car color

BMW's lead designer suggests that there is one reason Americans buy more white cars than those of any other color: Steve Jobs.

And it's all because of Steve Jobs. Allegedly. Universal Mind Works/YouTube Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's odd how the world acts subliminally upon our desperate minds.

One minute it tells us to love Kelly Clarkson, the next hip-hop. One minute it sneaks the idea of monogamy into our brains, the next it makes pornography available online and we're louche putty.

How touching, then, that there's a deep subliminal reason for all the white cars we see on the streets these days. Have you noticed? Yes, white has now superseded silver as our favorite car color.

Why might this be? Oh, the same reason we've become gadget-obsessed, socially networking automatons: yes, Steve Jobs.

I am grateful to my all-too-irrregular reading of Yahoo's Motoramic blog for telling me that once Apple decided that white shouldn't remind anyone of a very difficult part of the 1960s, we all came to accept the color as the one to be associated with.

This thought comes, in fact, from Sandy Gill, the lead designer in color, materials, and finish at BMW's Designworks.

"Prior to Apple, white was associated with things like refrigerators or the tiles in your bathroom. Apple made white valuable," he told Motoramic.

Designers do think a slightly different way from real human beings. While Gill might imagine that white was associated with kitchens and bathrooms, surely it was also associated with the notion that if I buy white, I'll have to wash it every other day.

It was also, perhaps, associated with the idea that white cars seemed to be the exclusive purview of hairdressers and pimps.

It doesn't seem so long ago that you'd expect someone stepping out of a white car to have suede loafers and an overpowering waft of Aramis aftershave.

Yet now we're supposed to believe that the man in black made white suddenly desirable?

Oh, perhaps. Or perhaps car washes suddenly became more affordable.

You will be wondering what color is the one that's threatening white's supremacy. Oddly, that color is brown.

Some wise gearheads speculated to Motoramic that this symbolizes our return to our earthly roots, or even a yearning for times gone by when brown cars were so reassuring.

There will surely be those, however, who speculate that brown is merely a commentary on the state of the world.

 

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