In the pink

Lady Penelope Pink Car

It seemed like a good idea at the time. A while back, Nissan decided to dress up a Micra hatchback in a pink wrap, and invited motoring writers to drive it, with the promise of a donation to a breast cancer charity. Great plan, until I was driving home from a party in London late one evening during my week with the car.

I’d consumed only soft drinks, wasn’t speeding, and so was puzzled when a following police car suddenly switched on its blue lights and pulled me in. Our conversation immediately took a bizarre turn. “Good evening Madam, is this your car?” the constable demanded to know, sternly. “If so, why is it pink, when DVLA records show it as blue?”

I cheerily explained that it had been temporarily wrapped as a charity stunt, and that by driving it I was benefitting a very worthwhile cause, but Mr Late Night Policeman wasn’t amused. “That’s all very well, but you can tell the owners from me that the next time they pull a stunt like this, they had better inform the DVLA!” He stomped grumpily back to the Panda car, and I went on my way, pink-faced to match the naughty car colour.

The memory of that night flooded back with the news that the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire is planning a special day for owners of pink cars. The Simply Pink rally is on 31st May, and it is in support of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The parkland behind the museum will be temporarily turned into a sea of pink – and also rose, lilac, lavender and any other variation on the shade. Anything pink will be welcome, whether the car is classic or modern, fast or slow, large or small, just so long as it has rosy paintwork.

Pink has a long history as the choice of extrovert drivers – and not just women – who want to stand out from the crowd. Remember Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls-Royce in Thunderbirds? That followed a trend that began in the 1950s, when American car makers celebrated the optimism of the new post-war motoring era by bringing out warm-coloured Fords, Chevrolets and Cadillacs. The most daring colour on the options list was something in the pink spectrum.

Not just in the US, either. The fashion crossed the Atlantic, and briefly caught on with glitzy British cars like the Vauxhall Cresta PA, available in two-tone pink. Then in 1961 when the Morris Minor reached one million sales – the first British car ever to do so – a celebratory special edition ‘Minor Million’ model was brought out in a perky shade of pinky-violet, with contrasting white leather trim.

Another special edition model with a splash of pink appeared in 1989: it was the Mini Rose, which had white bodywork and a bright pink roof. Fast forward to today, and the latest DS3 from Peugeot-Citroen is available with a similar colour scheme. Other ‘pinkies’ currently around are the Ford Fiesta in Hot Magenta, the Fiat 500 in Idol Pink, and Renault’s Twingo in a warm shade of Fuschia.

These, together with the growing trend for personalisation of cars like the current MINI range, Vauxhall Adam and others, all mean that there are more pink cars appearing on the roads than ever before.

When I asked an owner of one of these extrovert cars why he chose it, his answer was: “Because I can always find it easily in a car park.” That may be a bit trickier than usual if he takes it to Beaulieu at the end of May!

Value my car

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About

Sue Baker is a seasoned motoring journalist with a love of all things automotive.