Whatever Happened to Green Car Interiors?

Published by Naseem Muaddi on August 20th, 2013

Auto Upholstery - The Hog Ring - Green Car Interior

Whatever happened to green car interiors? Or red, or blue, or white for that matter? Somewhere along the way, automakers lost interest in colors other than grey, beige and black upholstery. And quite frankly, it’s become old and boring.

I miss the days when General Motors, Ford and Chrysler offered an array of upholstery colors to choose from. Remember opening the door to a Monte Carlo and seeing blue velour interior? I’m not just talking blue accents. I mean everything was blue – the dash, headliner, carpet, door panels and seats. Those days are long gone.

Nowadays, car companies expand their grayscale color pallet with a million different shades of the same damn color. Open a Detroit Book and see for yourself. While you’re at it, somebody please tell me what the hell is the difference between Medium Flint, Dark Flint and Medium Dark Flint?

I find it hard to believe that high-paid automotive designers with all of their prestigious degrees can’t possibly design an attractive, uniquely colored interior when we trimmers have been doing it for years. Maybe they’re just scared and have been playing it safe. The truth is, there’s a fine line between tacky and beautiful when you experiment with colors like green. I challenge manufacturers to create a green car interior that can change the public’s perception of so-called unusual colors.

Then again, maybe the problem isn’t just with designers. Maybe we need to stop letting them tell us what looks good and start trusting our own instincts. I think if you asked most people, they’d be open to more color in their cabins.

My first car was a light green 1979 Chevrolet Caprice Classic with hunter green upholstery. Of course, back then I thought it was ugly so I had it painted black and redid the upholstery in grey. If I had that car today, I think I would take the “green challenge” and dare to make the most badass green-upholstered interior anyone has ever seen. The kind of upholstery that would have my customers thinking twice about what colors they want their interiors.

I’ve grown a lot since then. For my second car, I chose a cinnamon color for the upholstery, a shade I had picked long before I decided what color to paint the exterior. I had fallen in love with the color of the upholstery and decided everything else would compliment that.

I’m currently restoring a 1979 El Camino and have no idea what color to paint it. But one thing I know for sure, I refuse to change its interior to any other color than the original maroon.

9 Responses

  1. Benedict Benedict says:

    This interior looks exactly like my Olds Delta 88 interior.

  2. davlin56 says:

    I agree! And what about turquoise, gold and maroon? Was the use of metallic or pearl trim banned in cars produced after the ’70’s? Sure, a few were tacky, but at least they weren’t boring!

    When my wife recently bought a new Malibu, I was pleased to see a “Cocoa & Cashmere” colour option for the interior. The salesman actually tried to convince her NOT to order it! “Wouldn’t you prefer grey?” he asked. Well, the answer to that was a big “NO!” (It looks great, by the way)

    Sadly, many of our clients also seem to have been swayed into thinking grey or beige is the only choice for their hot rod or aircraft interior. But I’m happy to say we still have some who aren’t. We’ve used purple, silver, green, even orange, and with some very impressive results. Even if the customer insists on one of the two “safe” choices, I usually suggest they go with a two-tone version, as it allows for a lot more creativity.

  3. Fred Mattson CTIbyFred says:

    Auto makers do it because of cost factors. They make more money by offering the consumer little to no choice. It is easier on inventory cost also.

    Earl Scheib could paint a car for $89.99. That is because he did not color match. One shade of red, one shade of blue, etc.

  4. It definitely comes down to cost. Automakers want to save money while still trying to appeal to the largest amount of people possible. Because of this, they choose safe colors – ones that the most amount of people can live with. By definition, though, the safest colors also tend to be the dullest.

    Recently, automakers have tried to get around this by offering “two tone” interiors. Two dull colors that is, lol…

  5. joan ellis says:

    My 1978 Ford Fiesta had a red interior that cheered me up every time I drove. I look everywhere in vain for some pizazz inside a new car and there is nothing. Sure it’s a matter of cost, but come on, I’ll buy from ever gives me a cheerful interior. Now I feel I’m driving to a funeral.

  6. SIMON says:

    I too agree. The black, beige or grey interior is so boring. Sort of like 70’s bla earth tones. At least offer blue and red. Some of the best looking cars were the 1990 to 1993 Toyota Celicas. And, you could get them with red and blue interiors. There was something classy about a white exterior with a blue cabin. I remember 1994 seemed the first year of interior car color choice repression. Not only were the 1994 Celica’s weird looking with their egg shaped headlamps, they also hearled in the era of drecky beige and grey choices for interior colors.

  7. SIMON says:


    1990 Blue Toyota Celica Interior.

  8. martythetrimmer martythetrimmer says:

    wow you guys got beige as well as grey…..in Australia we’ve had grey since the early 90’s and charcoal/black for the last 5 years or so….wasn’t a fan of grey but at least there was several shades of it, these days it’s super dark grey which is so close to black it may as well be, or black, which is my pet hate!! they could at least offer coloured inserts!!

  9. PeterM. says:

    Cars nowadays are shit,they are “designed” by a bunch of idiots that grew up in the back seat of a Toyota Corolla,that explains why the sales numbers are 1/10 of what it was in the 70s.

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