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Great British paint rip-off: most cars only have one 'free' paint choice

Published: 30 January 2017

► Trend-spotting: paying for paint
► Most new cars have one 'free' colour
► News investigation by Parkers.co.uk

Researchers on our sister website Parkers.co.uk have found that Britain's most popular new cars come with only one free paint choice as standard. 

It's been a trend that's crept up on car buyers - forcing most punters to pay an average of £536 if they want something more exciting than plain white or red.

The great British paint rip-off: the details

More than half of the UK's most popular cars come with a single standard paint finish included in the RRP. Parkers found the restricted choice on 30 of Britain's 50 bestsellers, leaving buyers to stump up for something glitzier.

The average cost of upgrading was found to be:

  • Non-standard solid paint £292
  • Metallic paint £536
  • Pearlescent paint £745

It's a modern phenomenon: in 2007, just 32% of new cars had a sole paint choice - while 20 years ago, every single model in our basket came in multiple colours for free.  

How car paint choice has been restricted over the years

Why do customers now have to pay for paint choice?

Simple really: profit margins. In an age where fashion is king, lively colours have become more commonplace on our roads - and punters are prepared to pay for it.

The Ford Fiesta, Britain’s best-selling car in 2016, is a case in point. In entry-level Zetec spec you can only have Race Red for free.

Other solid colours add an extra £250 to the bill - while glitzier paint finishes add between £495 and £725 more.

No wonder salesmen love flashy colour charts; PCP finance arrangements make the monthly differential marginal, even though the overall amount paid will soar by many hundreds of pounds...

Click here to read the Parkers paint investigation

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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