The trend for painting cars in two-tone paint schemes goes in and out of style a few times within each decade. The whole point of a two-tone paint job is to enhance the beauty of an automobile and highlight sculptural design elements. Vintage cars illustrate this concept in a wonderful fashion. When applied to luxury cars as opposed to race cars, two-tone paint colors are far more purposefully applied. Two-tone paint schemes allow the car enthusiast to fully appreciate the lines of a particular car. Let’s take a look back through history at some of the most appealing two-tone paint schemes of all time.
1932 Duesenberg Model J LeBaron Phaeton – The iconic Model J is the most famous of all the Duesenbergs. Visually the curved side panel on these cars accentuate other curves on the car, infact it helps make the spare tire and wheel almost a necessary part of the overall design.
1934 Avion Voisin V27 Coupe Aerosport – One of only two V27s built, this two-tone paint scheme was often used by Gabriel Voisin to enhance the visual presence of the Voisin cars. Unlike other carmakers of the time, I believe Voisin produced his cars start to finish without the addition of an outside coachbuilder. When to you look close the two colors aren’t nearly as simple as they first seem. Voisin cars are full of artistic details, he makes certain you see them.
Bugatti Type 57 Atalante – In the 1930’s Bugatti needed a new direction, Ettore left this in very capable hands of son Jean, only in his twenties. Jean created an entire new design with the Type 57. Numerous engineering innovations made the Type 57 a very successful car in both racing and road use. Visually Jean embraced the current French Moderne style and with the design element of the “french curve” as a basis for the two-tone paint schemes, the visual appeal of the Bugatti reached a whole new level.
1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster – When designer Gordon Buehrig and chief engineer August Duesenberg were charged with building a money-no-object luxury American sports car, the Auburn Boattail Speedster was the result. The car helped Auburn outsell Hudson, DeSoto and Packard in 1929. Auburn produced speedsters from 1928 – 1936, with the early models offering sleek and less bulbous lines than the later models. The curve on the two-tone paint scheme as it comes across the top of the hood and points to the symbolic Auburn badge accentuates the whole idea the car is fast, super fast.
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato – Nothing quite highlights the trademark double bubble roofline better than having its own color. Built on the V12-powered 250 GT long wheel base Berlinetta Ferrari, this sculptural car is one of two commissioned by Vladimior Galluzzi of Milan. If you look at other double-bubble cars, you’ll often have to look twice to notice the signature Zagato shape, not in this case.
Figoni & Flaschi 135 Delahaye Roadsters – These cars couldn’t be sexier. Here the two-tone paint scheme is as artfully applied as the sculpture of the car. The sweeping curves can’t help but attract attention.
1930 Ruxton C Baker-Raulang Roadster – Unlike other two-tone paint schemes this one is highly unusual as the secondary color mostly serves as an outline to punctuate the lines of the car. The edge line is far more purposeful than a mere pinstripe.
The introduction of vehicle wraps will no doubt offer a new take on color schemes in the years to come. Wraps are an inexpensive way to embellish a car, however nowadays the car is merely a canvas for both creativity or indulgent bad ideas, neither of which serve to make the car details shine. I’ve done both, for me two-tone color schemes are far more attractive.