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History When Were The First White Cars

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by BJR, Jun 5, 2023.

  1. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 9,082


    I was watching an old movie and noticed all the cars were dark in color. This got me thinking, when did car companies start to offer white painted cars? My Dad had a white 58 Chev, but I can't think of seeing anything much older painted white from the factory. Other than an ambulance.
    chevy57dude likes this.
  2. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 11,309

    from Tampa, FL

    49ratfink and Spooky like this.
  3. Clydesdale
    Joined: Jun 22, 2021
    Posts: 145


  4. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 9,082


    OK but how about from the 30's on, I can't ever remember seeing a 30's, 40's or early 50's white car.

  5. guthriesmith
    Joined: Aug 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,839

    1. H.A.M.B. Chapel

    Seems like I have seen late 40’s mainstream cars that were originally white? Not sure I can recall anything older than that.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2023
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  6. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 11,309

    from Tampa, FL

    Autos, trucks bicycles, aircraft, ships have all been painted in a wide variety of colors since day one. Whatever the customer wanted. And don’t forget the first customers were likely wealthy. And accustomed to getting what they wanted. Even the Navy… as in Great White Fleet… way back in the day.
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  7. GeeRam
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 533


    I have a vague recollections of seeing a few 1930's era Cords in white?
    As for early 50's, the first year for the Corvette in '53, white was the only colour available IIRC, and it was certainly a Caddy colour in '53.
  8. white cars were rarely used in film as they didnt show up very well.
  9. As far as seeing nothing but dark colors on a old black and white film, that was most likely a decision made during filming. The darker cars would be easier to define over light backgrounds. Similar thought process for makeup on a actors/actresses for black and white filming. Also another thing to think about is that while the cars are dark on film, the lighter grey cars are probably a much brighter color. Like a turquoise, pink, light blue would still come across as a much darker gray color on film.
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  10. 62rebel
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 3,219


    White probably posed enough issues with chalking up too quickly and showing dirt that it wasn't widely popular. Mass production methods would have used lead instead of titanium for the color, I believe. It was too expensive to be widespread in use.
  11. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 3,980


    Ford had Colonial White in '53, Cadillac had Alpine White in '53, GM had Cascade White '51-'54, Mercury had Classic White in '56, Nash-Hudson had Snowberry White in '55. Looking at a bunch of color charts specific to each car manufacturer, White didn't seem to be used at all prior to '53.
    Edit: Found this in an article on early production paint methods. Somewhere toward the bottom of the article is an entertaining paragraph on painting naked on the production line. ;)
    A Brief History Of Car Colors — And Why Are We So Boring Now? (
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2023
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  12. you need to watch some NASS

    all colors were there, or find some vintage color chips.
  13. There wasn't a good, inexpensive, white pigment that worked in automotive finishes available until the late 1940's when Dupont figured out how to produce one. It became readily available in 1951 so there was nothing on a production scale available before that.
  14. '29 Gizmo
    Joined: Nov 6, 2022
    Posts: 531

    '29 Gizmo
    from UK

    Depends what you class as white, ford offered several cream options back in the 30s.

    White as we know it is based on titanium dioxide was used as a pigment starting in the 20s.
    rod1, alanp561, Tim and 1 other person like this.
  15. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 8,426

    from Oregon

    Chevy offered a "Sun Beige" and "Italian Cream" in 1939, and in 1940 a "Beach Ivory" and "California Beige". These were as close to white as they got early on, and a true white-white wasn't until the mid 50's I think.
    427 sleeper and VANDENPLAS like this.
  16. Bird man
    Joined: Dec 28, 2009
    Posts: 850

    Bird man
    from Milwaukee

    Don't forget, there were a lot of dirt roads until well after the War.
    Dirt & white paint...
    GlassThamesDoug likes this.
  17. I believe La Salle offered a white car in 1939. HRP
    427 sleeper likes this.
  18. My in laws had a white '53 Chevy, back in the day.
    alanp561 likes this.
  19. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 9,082


    I know in the early 50's white was used as a two tone with the tops of cars being white, but I just don't remember any 40's or early 50's cars being all white, and I'm an old guy.
  20. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 2,095


    1907 Ford K Model
  21. Dick Stevens
    Joined: Aug 7, 2012
    Posts: 3,592

    Dick Stevens

    Dirt shows up much worse on black than white! Just a little dust makes black look bad.
  22. 41 GMC K-18
    Joined: Jun 27, 2019
    Posts: 3,210

    41 GMC K-18

    From 1936. Interesting pattern on the white sidewalls.

    CCC-the-history-of-the-early-custom-mr-cinderella-1936 (2).jpg
  23. [​IMG]
    1954 Ford Snowshoe White. Dad had one, pretty sure it was white.
    41 GMC K-18 and Bob Lowry like this.
  24. Don't assume that car is white.
    41 GMC K-18 likes this.
  25. The Great Leslie's Leslie Special was white.;)
  26. 52HardTop
    Joined: Jun 21, 2007
    Posts: 1,056


    How about the 53 Vette?
  27. Again because the commercially viable production of Titanium Dioxide didn't exist until 1951 no one really had production cars that were white until after that. Some higher end marquees may have or some one off cars were built but nothing seems to really have been available as a common colour until 1952. Oldsmobile seems to be the first real production car to offer white in 1952 with Swan White full cars and roofs. Then in 1953 GM seemed to opened the flood gates with their higher end models as the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Fiesta, Cadillac Eldorado and the Corvette were all offered with a white option.

    One has to wonder if Dupont was using GM as a test bed for the viability of the new process for producing titanium dioxide.
  28. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 11,627

    Atwater Mike

    I believe the brand on those tires was 'EXCELSIOR'.
    41 GMC K-18 and alanp561 like this.
  29. Good point BJR, never thought about it until you mentioned it, but thinking of all of the cars I've seen, 53 was probably the oldest white one. What did Henry Ford say? Available in any color, as long as it's black?
  30. Tow Truck Tom
    Joined: Jul 3, 2018
    Posts: 1,493

    Tow Truck Tom
    from Clayton DE

    In '53 my Mother drove a white'39 Chrysler

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