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!”


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