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Makers Going to the Matte

Low-gloss paint a hit in Geneva, but problems persist.

by on Mar.08, 2010

European tuner Carlsson brought this matte-painted Mercedes to Geneva, but a dozen other displays featured flat finish paints.

A quick tour of this year’s Geneva Motor Show reveals that a lot of automakers are going to the matte – matte finish, that is.

Even before Henry Ford began advising customers they could get their Model T in “any color, as long as it’s black,” manufacturers prided themselves on the high gloss of their paints.  Indeed, American motorists spend millions of dollars, each year, on waxes and polishes designed to give their cars an even more lustrous shine.

But all that began to change when Lamborghini rolled out the $1.4 million Reventon supercar, at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.  Costing more than four times as much as a conventional Lamborghini Murcielago, the limited edition sports car featured a number of unusual touches, from its 650-horsepower engine to the distinctive carbon fiber body panels painted in a flat gray-green hue the Italian maker also dubbted Reventon.

Spot On!

The look generated plenty of comments, especially in the normally high-luster luxury market, but few manufacturers seemed willing to follow Lambo’s lead.  Until now.  As the public streams through the turnstiles for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, this week, they’ll discover that matte is, in a sense, the new black.  A walk through the sprawling PALExpo convention center quickly turns up at least a dozen new models using a matte finish, though with far more color options than were originally offered on the Reventon.