Last month’s installment of What’s In A Name? prompted so many comments (and requests for the backstories behind other fabulous old car factory colors) that we decided to do it again. From Evening Orchid to Grabber Blue, here are five more of automotive history’s most memorable car colors.
1963 Chevrolet Impala
In psychology circles, a fondness for the color green supposedly means you are a down-to-earth-person who loves nature and strives for balance in everything you do. In the classic car world, the most enduring and iconic green tone is arguably known as “ivy green.” First used by Cadillac in 1942, according to Paintref.com, ivy green as a factory paint color for cars saw its greatest popularity in the 1960s among automakers Chrysler and Ford. From the Fairlane to the Falcon, the Thunderbird to the Barracuda—in that decade, the color was an option on just about all of their most popular models. The color was especially popular among Mustang owners, especially after Steve McQueen drove a dark green variant in his 1968 blockbuster, Bullitt.
1970 Ford Mustang
Another iconic color made popular by Ford, “grabber blue” was first used as a Shelby Mustang color option in 1969. Car buyers reacted so positively to the color that Ford made it an option for all their pony cars, as well as on the Falcon and on certain trucks. Grabber blue eventually disappeared from the Mustang lineup in 1974, until it was reintroduced in 2010.
Sassy Grass Green
1971 Chrysler Challenger R/T
According to Paintref.com, “sassy grass green” (also known as “green go”) was a paint color option used between 1970 and 1983, primarily by Chrysler and seen today mostly on Chargers, Coronets, Challengers and Barracudas from that era. While considered one of the most iconic muscle car colors of all time, everything from to the Dart to the Polara could be ordered in this distinct, eye-catching color.
1965 Chevrolet Impala (Special Order)
Offered by GM for only one year, 1965, the wonderfully rare and beautiful color known as “evening orchid” (also known by its promotional name “iris mist”) was available by special order or as a factory color option on the Tempest, Chevrolet, Corvair, Chevelle, Pontiac, Nova, and Chevy II.
“Orbit Orange” was used only for the 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge. Factory records indicate only 618 Judge GTOs were ever produced with this rare and racy-looking hue. An orbit orange 1970 GTO was one of the cars featured in the cross-country race movie Two-Lane Blacktop, starring James Taylor.
Looking to catch the eye of the female market in the early 1970s, Pontiac’s Special Edition Sky Bird debuted in 1976 at the Chicago Auto Show. The first in a series of “Firebirds for the ladies” (followed by the Red Bird and Yellow Bird), the Sky Bird came in a special blue color (known as Lombard blue) not offered on other Firebird models. Originally known as the “The Blue Bird,” the car was such a showstopper that Pontiac immediately set plans to begin production the following year.
Unfortunately, according Kevin DiOssi’s well-written history of the Blue Bird for the Hot Rod Network, the original name was already trademarked by a then popular manufacturer of school buses (Blue Bird Corporation), which forced Pontiac to adopt a new moniker—the Sky Bird, which only appeared in this rare color for one model year.