white is the new black

11 May

Yesterday I was driving on the M1, and passing me on the outside lane was a white 1-Series BMW. The 1-Series has been a bit of a grower on me. I loved the 7-Series immediately, and thought the aggressive styling of the 5-series was superb (if not quite as classy as its bigger sibling), but the first time I saw the hatchback 1-Series, I hated it.

US designer Chris Bangle has overseen the remodelling of the BMW range, and for the most part, it has been a revelation. BMW enthusiasts were up-un-arms when the 7-Series was first released, but having now got used to the radical style, few design or technology lovers would argue that the car is anything other than work of beauty. Save the eyesore that is the horribly wet new 3-Series, BMW now leads the way in both style and innovation.

As I said, when I first clapped my eyes on the 1-Series I hated it. It looked great head-on, but I thought the lines (the car’s form, the spaces between the doors, and the wheel arches) were ugly in profile – leaning back as they do. However, everything about the car has grown on me, and I think it’s the best small car on the market (though special mention should go to the new Honda Civic Type-R).

I have also decided that it looks best in white. That’s right – white. The same colour as the Transit van. I used to hate white cars, but then again, I used to hate the 1-Series – but it’s my prerogative, so there.

But why have I suddenly decided that white is a suitable colour for a car?

I think my newly found coveting of white is rooted in technology. The iPod is famously white (the original anyway, and its white silhouette still dominates Apple’s marketing strategy), Apple Mac’s ibook, iMac and new MacBook are fashioned in tough white plastic, and Nintendo’s Wii and DS are manufactured in white. White is the new black, it seems.

I have always – when I have had the choice – bought my gear in black. My hi-fi is black (even when everyone was buying silver, I went for black), my iPod is the 5th-Gen black one, my cell, BlackBerry, and DS are black, and my IBM desktop calculator is black. But having used a white iBook (the original iBook was only available in white) for a couple of years, I have begun to appreciate white.

White is great, but white cars are almost universally loathed. It was considered old-fashioned (we’ve all seen hundreds of Ford Escorts and Capris in white), too associated with kitchen appliances, and is renowned for intensifying the appearance of any dirt on the bodywork. But that white 1-Series just looked so fresh and sharp. My eyes were drawn to it. It had black alloy wheels and thick black tires, which extenuated the white body – it was, in a word, stunning.

If you’re not convinced, try this pic (again!) of the recently released Audi R8 – now tell me white is rubbish.

Update: 12.05.07 – The sheer volume of grammatical errors in this piece was phenomenal. Relevant changes have been made, I think…

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