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How Long Will the Matte-Paint Trend Last?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2017

It has recently come to my attention that every single new car is available with matte paint. OK, not every new car, but a lot of them. If you're buying virtually any modern luxury car, you do not have to purchase it shiny. You can get it with a dull, matte finish, right from the factory, which is very cool right now. But when will it no longer be cool?

That's right, folks: I'm suggesting that the ultra-hip, ultra-awesome matte-paint finish isn't a new, cool development, but rather a new, cool trend that will someday go away. And I think we will look back at matte-painted cars from the 2000s and wonder what everyone was thinking, much in the same way we look back at "Altezza" clear taillights, spinning rims, popup headlights and red interior carpeting.

Before I go into why this is, a little history of matte-paint finishes. They certainly started in the aftermarket, especially with vehicle wraps, which remain the most common way of making your car matte to this day. But soon automakers began offering them. The first car I remember with matte paint from the factory was the 2011 BMW M3 "Frozen Gray" special edition, which was considered absolutely crazy at the time: The color cost something like $9,000 extra, there were only 30 built, and the car came with all sorts of conditions, like you couldn't wax it or take it through a normal car wash.

It wasn't long after the Frozen Gray M3 that matte paint started getting more common, which must've made the 30 Frozen Gray owners feel kind of stupid for spending nine grand just to get matte paint a couple years before everyone else had it. I remember walking through my neighborhood in Atlanta in 2013 and seeing someone who had just bought an Audi S7 or RS 7, which had just come out, in matte gray. They didn't have a garage, and I was shocked they seemed to be OK with parking it outside. Now I see matte-painted cars parked outside virtually every day.

And yet it has to end eventually, right? Matte paint is very cool right now, but I have to imagine that any trend popular with luxury cars -- as it currently is -- will eventually trickle down to regular cars, meaning maybe you'll be able to get a matte-painted Hyundai Tucson, and then eventually the people with the luxury cars won't find it cool anymore, and then it will die off, leaving matte paint a distant memory to everyone except those who are maintaining their matte-paint finishes with some sort of special rag and matte-paint cleaning solution, hopeful that it will someday make a comeback.

What do you think? Will it go away? Is it just getting started? And are all those Frozen Gray M3s now worth way less than normal ones you can take to a car wash?

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How Long Will the Matte-Paint Trend Last? - Autotrader