Red is the new black. At least that’s the way it seems as far as the car palette is moving. The boring, staid and conservative hues of black, silver and white are being eclipsed by more adventurous and showy colors – signs of the times as we get over the recession and shift toward another rising stock market with the usual American optimism and desire to move on, Trump notwithstanding. I’m old enough to remember Slime Green and Plum Crazy from Mopar back in the sixties – I even refinished a 1970 Vauxhall Viva in Plum Crazy for a sales competition. My sales manager thought I was nuts at the time, but we made the national papers and sold a bunch of cars. According to some press observers, yellow is becoming popular again, along with orange and French blue – a Ford Focus SST in Electric Blue looks cool enough to beat the band and BMW has a metallic denim blue that sets a 3 Series apart from the rest of the traffic. Don’t hold your breath for green unless it’s bright lime green for something like a Dodge Challenger with lots of galloping horses to back up the boasting bravado and ego. You have to wonder how long all this horse power will be available and it’s tempting to think back to the late ‘60s and ‘70s as we celebrate and highly value the muscle cars of that era. History repeating itself? I know electric cars will be the norm in a few years’ time so what’s going to replace the heart-thumping grunt and roar of a V8 with straight pipes? The politically correct gang may get their jollies off by listening to the wimpy whirr of an, admittedly powerful and torque-filled motor but it’s hard to get there. Then there’s styling. The front of the latest Tesla looks as interesting as a Westinghouse refrigerator. I recently wrote a few lines about European styling but the Japanese direction looks as though they’re adding lumps and bumps just for the hell of it. The latest Honda Civic Type R looks more like a running shoe than a car, with intakes and deflectors all over the place. The Hyundai Veloster is not dissimilar. The bodies have pleats, humps, vents, bulges and things that go bump in the night. Maybe it has to do with manliness – the size of the codpiece reflective of abilities! Talking of bulges, the hood of the Infinity QX80 looks like the head of a narwhal – heaven forbid it should grow a tusk! Its stable mate, the Nissan Armada, is surely misnamed; the Armada was a dismal, Spanish, naval failure. And they continue to make cars that have rear ends that look like the north end of a southbound camel – see Juke or Leaf if you don’t believe me. Rolls Royce found out that you can literally “put your foot in it” when they wanted to call one of their models the Silver Mist when, in German, mist means dung – they took steps to avoid that one. I’ve been critical of Lincoln’s design department of late, seeming to lack any real direction or inspiration as they clung to the ‘waterfall grill’ which made the rest of the car look wishy-washy. Now they’ve given up on that, their new clean lines look classically elegant and may make their sales figures look a little more attractive too. Interior designs confound and confuse this old fuddy-duddy and as we tell people not to text, we assert that it’s safe to find another radio station or stream some new music without taking your eyes off the road. Voice control still has some way to go and speaking to your car feels distinctly idiotic to me. What’s that expression about the first sign of madness? It’s not when you start talking to the chair – it’s when the chair starts talking back! I think we’re there. Maybe cars will start using as colorful language as their new livery.