When Color Names Were Plum Crazy – A Look Back at High Impact Colors


 

There’s a theory out there that the variety of car colors offered at any given time is a direct reflection on how well the economy is doing at that time. If the economy is slow, the available color palette for that model year would be mainly black, gray, silver and white. While pocketbooks are stretched, customers want to retain retail value, opting for “safer” colors. The opposite also holds true when the economy is booming, colors get more outlandish and vibrant. Well, if the theory is correct, 1969 must have been one heck of a year. That year Chrysler came out with a selection of 10 bold colors for the 1970 model year, named High Impact Paint Colors — or HIP, for short. 
 

The colors quickly became part of the legend that was Mopar-powered muscle cars. Plum Crazy, Sublime, Go Mango and Panther Pink became part of everyday language overnight, and the bright colors were quickly popping up all over the country’s highways and byways. The effect was felt almost immediately across the entire automotive industry with competitors coming out with their own arresting colors the following model year. In fact, any brightly colored car you can find on the road today owes its existence to Chrysler’s High-Impact Paint. 
 


 

Speaking of cars on the road today, there’s a bit of a trend going on in the automotive design space: retro styling. The new muscle car era has not only brought along horsepower numbers that harken back to the late 60s, but also body lines, head and taillight designs and features like the shaker hood. One has to look no further than the Dodge Brand’s own Challenger and Charger for proof of the trend and how well it can be executed. 
 

With such great examples of modernized retro styling in the Charger and Challenger, and with the strongest heritage of bright colors from its past of any manufacturer, it soon became apparent that this modern muscle car era would be the perfect time for Dodge to put its full force behind the High Impact Color palette. While the colors have always been in the portfolio, Dodge felt the need to continue the tradition in a big way. Although now, like the styling, the paints have been updated, using a multistage color-coat/clear-coat process that keeps the colors as bold as the day they came off the line with minimal maintenance. 
 

In 2010, Dodge marked 40 years of the Challenger by releasing a special edition Furious Fuscia-colored Challenger. Since then, all the usual suspects have made an appearance, from Plum Crazy to HEMI® Orange, all of them drumming up feelings of nostalgia and the glory days of greasing the square with a burbly V8 under the hood. 
 


 

Integral to this movement is La Shirl Turner, Head of Colors and Materials at FCA US LLC. Turner says that the heritage around the Dodge name is what made it so important to bring these colors back. 
 

“Impact colors really speak to Dodge Heritage, ” said Turner. “And providing the customer with a color that is eye-catching, gives them what they want — to get noticed.” 
 

Turner says that the customers were pretty integral in the Dodge Brand’s decision to bring these colors back. She credits them as the most aware of any fan base of the heritage and history behind the brand, which led to a considerable demand to bring the colors back. 
 

Since the revival, Turner says that customer feedback has been great. 
 

“The feedback has been positive and continues to push new color development to the next level while still maintaining considering the Dodge D.N.A.” Turner said. 
 

Most importantly, Turner points out that fans of High Impact Colors have a lot to look forward to. When asked if there are any plans to bring back any other High Impact Colors, Turner only had one word to offer – “Absolutely!”


11 Comments

  • Shauna Bell
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Panther Pink!!

  • Fred
    Posted January 26, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Top Banana yellow!!!
    W-O-O-T!!!

  • Chris K
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Hey all,
    This was a great article. I loved the color options that were back in late 60s and early 70s. All of those colors have always caught my eyes at the car shows, especially Plum Crazy. The Plum Crazy is just such a vibrant color and stands out in the crowd, there’s nothing else that looks like it. There’s nothing like a Mopar that’s painted Plum Crazy! Awhile back I was in a Chrysler dealership and saw a challenger with the plum crazy paint scheme and couldn’t believe it! Being I’m only 20 I’ve never seen a mint condition factory Plum Crazy car! I liked the information this article gave as well, was completely unaware about how the economy had an impact of the color options on vehicles. Great article!

  • TED DUSSEAU
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    06 GO MANGO DAYTONA CHARGER IS MY DAILY DRIVER!

  • Posted March 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    “Providing the customer with a color that is eye-catching, gives them what they want – to get noticed”… by thieves, that is lol. I like my muscle car laid-back, low-key and with no frills. I’d never pick those colors, but to each his own.

  • David
    Posted July 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    It wasn’t considered a HIP color, but Mopar offered a Burnt Orange color (paint code FK5) in 1970 that will never be surpassed in my mind. When applied to a 1970 Road Runner or GTX, the combination’s effect was much greater than just the sum of its two parts (i.e., it was nonlinear, containing a cross term). Selecting the optimal, exterior color paint for a given 3-D car body configuration borders on the mysterious for me. What disappoints me is that Mopar, so far as I know, ‘invented’ the unique and beautiful Burnt Orange color. And in 2016, I see other car brands that offer a similar color while Mopar does not — how could this happen? (Note: Playing with Viper’s Custom Color software can get one close to color FK5).

  • phil
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Bring back BUTTERSCOTCH!!!!!!

  • David
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Challenger buyers really need a bigger choice when it comes to exterior paint colors. For 2016, I counted only ten available colors and found just one that was good enough (Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl), but not really a top favorite for me — maybe more exterior colors will be offered for 2017. By way of comparison, in 1970 the Plymouth Road Runner, GTX, ‘Cuda, etc. were available in approximately 25 different exterior colors. That’s about the number of choices (if not 25, at least 20) which should be offered to current buyers so that a majority of them can successfully select a ‘favorite color.’

  • Posted December 22, 2016 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I have exactly what info I want. Check, please. Wait, it’s free? Awoseme!

  • Posted January 7, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I recently purchased a jazz blue dodge challenger hellcat.Ive had new fords and chevrolets and they dont compare to the paint job on the hellcat.Excellent finish,deep flat shine.

  • Posted January 31, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    That’s a creative answer to a difficult question

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