Fashion is fleeting but style is long-lasting. Aside from the world of haute couture, nowhere is this clearer than in the automotive world. The flavour of the day can make a splash, but the icons of style endure. One aspect of automotive design that is having its moment is the black roof. Once only the purview of exclusive luxury cars or specialty vehicles, there are now more cars and trucks with non-matching roofs than ever before.
This style probably had its start with sporty convertibles back in the 1950s and ’60s. Cars like the MGB and the Triumph Spitfire had bodies of one colour—think: British Racing Green—paired with a folding black top and brown leather interior. Around this time, Land Rover was painting the roofs of their rough-and-ready trucks with colours that contrasted with their bodies. Black, white, beige—these autos were British, expensive, and exclusive, and they could do whatever they bloody well pleased!
“One aspect of automotive design that is having its moment is the black roof.”
The original Mini could be had with contrasting roof colours, or even a Union Jack. Then the trend faded from view. I owned a 1990 Eagle Talon, a car that ONLY had a black roof, no matter the body colour. It was one of the few cars of that era with a contrasting roof colour.
The Two-Tone Roof Is Back
Then came the 2017 Land Rover Evoque: stylish, edgy, a real departure from the box on wheels that had been Land Rover for so long. The Evoque was low, with a reverse slant to the roof, a stylistic feature emphasized by offering it in black. Suddenly, black roofs were back with a vengeance.
Toyota—of all companies!—offers the Rav4 (above) with contrasting roof colours: white or black, depending on body colour. Even the Camry gets in on the trend. And they look fabulous!
Nissan offers several of its trucks with contrasting roofs: the Kicks (above), Rogue, and Juke all offer them, while Nissan stretches this trend to their car lines as well. The Maxima, Altima, Sentra, and even the Leaf can be had with black roofs. There’s an illusion of a panoramic sunroof on these vehicles, which might explain their popularity amongst vehicle stylists.
There’s also a more mundane reason these roofs are proliferating: computerized paint facilities make it much easier and less costly to paint a vehicle in more than one colour.
The Union Jack
Of course, the brand that gave us the Union Jack roof still offers every one of their models with black or white roofs: Mini (above). By now, it’s a calling card, and so ubiquitous that you don’t even notice it.
My take: bring it on! Anything to halt the mind-numbing procession of black, silver, grey, and white vehicles appearing too often on our roads. Black and white aren’t even colours, but the absence or presence of all colours—just ask a physics teacher!
Instead, consider BMW’S Melbourne Red (shown), Audi’s Marina Blue, VW’s Tornado Red, Honda’s Rio Yellow Pearl, Chrysler’s Plum Crazy, TorRed, Hemi Orange, Go Mango, IndiGo Blue, Porsche’s Guards Red… There are so many great colours out there. And it makes your vehicle uniquely yours. No more walking up to one of several thousand beige transportation devices in a shopping mall and wondering why your remote doesn’t work. Or worse, hopping in the car idling by the curb only to find out the driver isn’t your spouse, and it’s not your vehicle.
Dare greatly. Consider a black roof on a colourful auto. Life’s too short to drive boring cars.
Photos courtesy of BMW, Nissan, Toyota & Mini.
Peter Gilbert is an auto enthusiast, awesome dad, and talented journalist based in Muskoka.