In the world of unusual automotive paint jobs, it can sometimes seem like enthusiasm takes over from good taste.
Then again, searingly bright, can’t-look-away patterns, and hyper-realistic colors are often a perfect fit for equally over-the-top automobiles, making this artistic license a straight-up middle finger aimed squarely at the millions of silver, white, and black cars roaming the country’s crowded highways.
Check out these 10 paint jobs you can probably see from orbit and let us know which one is your favorite.
Jeff Koons BMW M3 GT Art Car
BMW has a long tradition of building art cars, that is to say, lending their automobiles to a diverse swath of creative talents as a sort of blank canvas for their individual experimentation. One of the most recent and surprisingly uncontroversial entries into the company’s art car pantheon came from Jeff Koons, a provocative artist who channeled what could only be described as a rainbow melting into hyperspace across the elegant lines of the M3 GT Le Mans car in 2010. Exploding tubes of color finish off the full-spectrum starfield at the rear of the coupe, which is actually a painstakingly assembled vinyl wrap.
Bugatti Veyron L’or Blanc
What happens when you take a multi-million dollar supercar and mash it up with a fetish for equally high-end porcelain? The answer is the Bugatti Veyron L’or Blanc, a vehicle that not only contains porcelain inlays in the wheels and the fuel cap, but also happens to feature a blue on white hand-swirled, dripped-on paint job that, well, reminds us of an ’80s pinstriping job gone horribly awry.
Volkswagen Golf Harlequin
One day, a Volkswagen executive pondered the question of what a MK3 Golf hatchback would look like if it were stolen, sent to a chop shop, and then re-assembled using the body panels of different-colored Golfs that happened to be lying around. Then that car was actually built by VW, dubbed the Harlequin, and sold for exactly one model year before disappearing forever.
For the sake of historical accuracy, we have to point out that Volkswagen did exactly the same thing with the Polo Harlequin the year before (which was never sold in North America). We’d also like to note that VW sold 3,800 multi-hued Polos, but only 264 of the larger Golf Harlequins.
The craziest part? Our chop shop comment isn’t an exaggeration: Volkswagen actually had its assembly line workers in Pueblo, Mexico, remove sheet metal, doors, hoods, etc from already-assembled Golfs, run across the room, and then bolt them back on in semi-random order (ensuring that no one color would ever touch itself on another panel) in a mad scramble that no doubt helped boost build quality to unprecedented levels.
Hello Kitty Mitsubishi Mirage
Mitsubishi made a pink version of the Mirage, adorned it with Hello Kitty stickers, and sold 400 of them in Japan. They also put a big Hello Kitty pillow inside, presumably for when your family disowns you immediately after purchase and forces you to sleep in your car.
Land Rover Range Rover ChromaFlair
Land Rover has traditionally offered its customers a unique palette of paint colors for anyone willing to pay more to further customize their Autobiography or SVR edition Range Rovers, but few hues were as memorable as Spectral Amber ChromaFlair. Sourced from JDS Uniphase, the paint process involves flakes of aluminum coated with magnesium fluoride, which are in term combined with a layer of chromium that creates a prism-like effect that alters light depending on where you happen to be standing. The net effect is impossible to ignore, and just like a solar eclipse, probably shouldn’t be stared at directly without proper eye protection.
Ford Mustang Mystic Cobra
How could we mention ChromaFlair without referencing the grand-daddy of color-shifting tech, the Mystic Cobra? In 1996, Ford was eager to draw attention to the new Mustang SVT Cobra, and as a result turned to BASF for a paint job that would shift between green, blue, black, purple, gold, and brown depending on how the light happened to hit it. It was like nothing else on the road in the ’90s, and although the finish would later become available on the aftermarket, Ford only used it for a single model year.
Much like ChromaFlair, this paint also used transparent flakes to achieve its magic, but it didn’t contain the iridescent aluminum that was the latter’s calling card. Future color-shifting Cobras (notable in 2004), would use ChromaFlair paint called Mystichrome, which was paired with an interior leather dye that changed colors too.
Audi R8 Chrome Edition
In case you were wondering whether automakers were also capable of making terrible decisions relating to full-chrome paint jobs, this one-off Audi R8 proves that the answer is a resounding yes. This specific model was built and then donated to a charity auction, where hopefully it was purchased by a collector willing to keep it parked in a subterranean garage, with the lights off, for the rest of its days.
Sublime Green Dodge Challenger
Back in the 1970s, Mopar was all-in on arresting paint colors with equally evocative names like Sublime and Plum Crazy. Flash forward to today, and you can once again purchase the limest of Sublime green retro-themed Challengers, with the bonus of considerably more horsepower packed under the hood. In the immortal words of Matthew McConaughey in True Detective, “Time is a flat circle.”
Dakar Yellow BMW E36 M3
Dakar Yellow wasn’t exclusive to the E36-generation M3, but it’s clear to us that the mid-’90s sport sedan was the BMW model that wore it best. In fact, alongside Laguna Blue and Phoenix Yellow, it’s become one of the shades most strongly associated with the brand’s popular performance car.
Rolls-Royce Dawn Fuxia
The Rolls-Royce bespoke program allows customers to order pretty much any color they want and have it splashed anywhere on the car. This is perhaps the most puzzling part of the Dawn Fuxia, a convertible finished in a color named after owner Michael Fux, and one which was allegedly inspired by the “fuschia petals from Pebble Beach lawns.” We’re stumped as to why, with the entire visual spectrum available, one would coat the inside and outside of a Dawn droptop with the one pencil in the Crayola case you’d probably never have a reason to use, but then again, we’re not exactly in the demographic that’s putting down deposits on completely custom Rollers.