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It's called Electric Orange, and it's more than just the signature colour for the new Focus ST. Electric Orange is a unique, four-coat layer paint technology that brings a depth and gloss that grow richer in bright sunshine.

The introduction of Electric Orange signals a fresh burst of colour from the Ford of Europe design studios. Do a survey of European roads and the most popular car colour always comes up the same: silver – or some version of it. Now, Ford is expanding the Blue Oval colour palette to complement a move toward more expressive vehicle design.

Apple, Tango, Viola, in addition to Electric Orange, are among the new exterior colours that consumers will find on the new Fiesta, Fusion and Focus ST . Bold new colour choices are also on offer for the interiors of these new models.

"Colour is an emotional image builder, and as designers, we have to have a clear vision which message we want to give to our customers," said Barbara Scheffler, design manager colour and materials, Ford of Europe.

In the case of the new Fiesta and Fusion, Ford is offering more distinctive exterior colours – greens, blues and oranges -- to suit the tastes of customers interested in a fresh look.

" A variety of greens and blue-tinted greens are coming to the palette, ranging from sporty and fruity greens to darker, elegant tones," said Scheffler. " Orange as a trend colour will be further seen in a very sporty version, as well as in a darker warmer version."

Electric Orange is unique to the new Focus ST . The colour, bright and rich at the same time, comes from a special four-coat layer paint technology. Where cars typically have two layers -- colour and clear coat -- Electric Orange consists of four: the orange colour, a clear coat, a third "effect" coat that is comprised of more minerals than regular metallic paints, and finally a second clear coat to complete the process and add a deeper tone. Ford's assembly plant in Saarlouis , Germany , where the Focus ST is built, added special painting and application equipment to accomplish the effect.

Ford's European Design Group develops and designs a palette of about 24 exterior colours. Due to the changing lifestyles and emerging trends of today's global society, as well as an increased diversification of customer groups, automakers have increased the number and range of vehicles offered. Ford alone has added seven new carlines during the last ten years: Ka, StreetKa, Galaxy, Fusion, Focus C-MAX, Tourneo Connect – and there's more to come.

As a result, Ford's colour palette has diversified significantly, especially in terms of high quality paint technologies, like effect pigmentation or multi-coated paint. Ten to twelve years ago, different shades of petrol blue-green colours were a strong trend in the automotive palette. Today's customers prefer bright effect pigment colours or sophisticated tinted silvers.

The new blues, greens and oranges are part of the "trend" group of colours created by Ford designers. Generally, the brighter and more fashionable colours are much more accepted within the Ford Ka and Fiesta segment than in the Mondeo segment.

The 'trend' colours, among them currently an ice blue called "Tonic," a turquoise blue called "Aquarius" and a lemon green called "Sublime," can be changed after one or two years. They make up between 30 percent and 40 percent of Ford's colour line-up. "Very elegant, dark-tinted silvers and sophisticated lemon silvers will be appearing in the premium segment," said Scheffler.

"Trend colours will only find an acceptance as an automotive colour if they are heavily conveyed through their appearance in fashion, home decoration, furniture and product designs, than they are part of our visually recognized environment," said Scheffler.

The bulk of the colours at Ford – silver or tinted silvers, black, dark blue, red and dark green -- are called 'core' colours, as they constitute more than 40 percent of the carmaker's European p roduction. These colours are kept for at least four years in the palette as they have a longer life span than the so called 'trend' colours.

Another 25 percent of the palette is filled with 'solid' colours, which do not have any special pigment like metallic flakes or mica pigments. A high percentage of these colours are ordered from fleet customers who often add their company logo to the vehicle. A small number of different colours are then reserved for the performance cars.

From architecture to fashion, Scheffler believes the best designers are very aware of today's environment, and have an intuitive feel for the way the market is developing. At the same time, they need to possess an ability to anticipate the future and project their imagination forward, envisioning how a colour will enhance the exterior of a vehicle years down the road.

"Colour – if used correctly – can help to achieve a favorable reception of a product," said Scheffler. "Colour can evoke a stimulating excitement, and can positively influence the purchasing decision."