Bentley Goes Literally Green as Forgotten Car Color Makes Comeback

At least one aspect of the racy show car that Bentley unveiled this week may go on sale soon: its glossy green.

The two-seat EXP 10 Speed 6 sports car that premiered at the Geneva International Motor Show was painted in what Bentley calls “a deeper, richer and heavily metallic version of British Racing Green.” The hue was specially developed for the concept car and struck a chord with buyers, as other automakers also rediscovered green.

After seeing the car, customers started requesting the shade, and Bentley will now have to figure out how to put it into production, Luc Donckerwolke, Bentley’s design chief, said at the brand’s stand, where two green models were on display.

The British ultra-luxury unit of Volkswagen AG wasn’t alone in experimenting with the color at the show. Aston Martin picked apple-tree green for the debut of the 1.5 million pound ($2.3 million) Vulcan racing car. The Skoda brand showed the Superb sedan in a gold-green tone, and Danish supercar maker Zenvo had an ST1 in bright green.

The return of the color to the Geneva show floor could signal the comeback of a hue that has largely been forgotten by car buyers. With grey, black and white dominant in recent years, green dropped far down the shopping list. Its return would be part of efforts to draw in customers with more exciting exteriors including matte finishes, two-tone paint jobs and exposed carbon-fiber components.

Very British

In Germany, an auto-industry trendsetter, green accounted for just 1 percent of the cars sold in 2013, according to data from the country’s motor vehicle office. It wasn’t always that way. In 1980, green was second only to red, with 18 percent of the market.

Still, the color’s appeal may not be widespread, as mainstream consumers seek out neutral tones in part because of concerns about resale value. That might limit the appeal to niche brands like Bentley and Aston Martin.

“Green is not a color for cars,” said Gorden Wagener, chief designer for Mercedes-Benz’s parent Daimler AG. “Except for British vehicles.”

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