Past vs Present: The UK’s favourite car colour revealed


In early 2018, an SMMT report revealed that black was the most popular colour of choice for cars in the UK, with 515,970 new registrations over the last year – which represents a 20.3% market share and a 0.2% increase from 2016. Grey cars took second place, showing a 2.4% increase in market share, whilst white cars dropped significantly in popularity, losing 1.5% of their market share with only 482,099 new registrations recorded.

So, how has the UK’s favourite car colour evolved over the years? Join us as we explore the facts and figures with the help of Grange used car specialists:


Ranked: Most popular car colours then and now

Let’s take a look at how the the nations top five favourite car colours have changed over the years according to the SMMT:

5 most popular new car colours: 2017

Position Colour No. of new registrations Market share (%)
1 Black 515,970 20.3
2 Grey 500,714 19.7
3 White 482,099 19.0
4 Blue 405,758 16.0
5 Silver 254,192 10.0


5 most popular car colours: 2007

Position Colour No. of new registrations Market share (%)
1 Blue 7,522,576 24
2 Silver 7,345,841 24
3 Red 4,497,237 14
4 Black 3,975,773 13
5 Green 2,948,959 9


5 most popular car colours: 1997

Position Colour No. of new registrations Market share (%)
1 Red 6,733,640 26
2 Blue 6,284,838 25
3 White 3,561,778 14
4 Green 2,275,329 9
5 Silver 2,068,196 8



If we take a look at the above tables, it’s clear that black cars have been steadily rising in popularity over the years. In 1997, black didn’t even make the top five. In 2017 however, black cars represented the highest market share.

The SMMT highlighted that the colour black did not make the top five until 1998. From 1998 until 2001, black was the fifth most popular car according to the number of new registrations, before taking a leap in 2002 to become the third most popular hue. In 2006-2008, black cars rose in popularity once more to become the second most popular tone and finally took the top spot from 2009-2012 (it dipped to the number two position between 2013 and 2016).  

Grey could be the one to watch however, especially in terms of the Land Rover Barnet – the tone was the second most popular colour just last year, yet didn’t rank in the top five in either 2007 or 1997.

The SMMT did report that grey did enter the leaderboard in fifth place in 2003, before moving up a rank to fourth from 2004-2013 and third from 2014-2016. Grey is now very close behind black in the rankings. The rise in the popularity of grey cars mirrors that of how black rose to take the top spot over the last two decades.

One question that you may be asking when looking at the tables is: what happened to our appreciation for the colour red when choosing a car colour? In 1997, the colour was the most popular on the UK’s roads, yet didn’t even enter the top five for new car colours in 2017. Figures show that red cars ranked sixth, with 251,104 new registrations and a 9.9% share in the market – which is the first time that red has not ranked inside the top five since 2012!

Naturally, there will be some tones that stand the test of time due to their association with certain brands of car, even if they do decline according to their overall numbers. For example, despite the clear decline in the number of red cars on the UK’s roads, many of us will automatically associate red with the classic red Ferrari. This shouldn’t come as a surprise however, Ferrari reported that 85% of all Ferraris in the 1990s had been requested in red.

In the meantime, how many of you reading this piece would opt for a new Aston Martin in silver? The colour silver has long been associated with this British car maker, in part thanks to the model with Silver Birch paintwork being driven by everyone’s favourite secret agent, James Bond.