On my first day in Shanghai, I saw two pink Porsches and wondered if those were normal in the world’s biggest city.
Well, “normal” may be saying a little much, but they’re more common in China than anywhere else I’ve been.
Pink is bling, and bling is huge in China. The People’s Republic of China may be communist, but it’s the most capitalist place I know.
As often seen in fast developing economies, a small percentage of the population has recently come into money, often lots of it. And they’re flaunting it. So when they buy expensive cars, they want the world to see them.
In China pink is the color of love, so it’s pretty popular anyway. But more importantly, it’s the brightest of the signal colors. It’s literally a way to stand out in daily traffic. Between all the little electric scooters, it’s bling on wheels.
So is that shallow? Sure, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a Porsche buyer anywhere in the world, who isn’t partly driven by shallow motives. The German brand isn’t exactly low-profile.
Pink cars aren’t new. Just think of the Pink Cadillacs of the 50’s or Liberace’s pink Rolls Royce. And back in 1971, even the Porsche 917, probably the most famous race car ever, hit the track in pink.
The Porsche 917 is an icon. This has a lot to do with its many victories, but also its beautiful design and liveries. Gulf’s light blue with orange livery (which starred in the Steve McQueen movie Le Mans) or the Martini colors, still grace numerous posters, jackets, and paint jobs of amateur racers.
In 1971, at the height of the 917’s success, Porsche also brought a pink car to the 24 hours of Le Mans. The skin tone livery actually had a meat-cut design, like you could find at a butcher shop, and was nicknamed “The Pink Pig”. So for Porsche pink is a color that fills them with fondness.
But such history didn’t inspire the Chinese pink Porsches. The Chinese mostly prefer their cars new and modern. This is also why you find very few classic cars in Shanghai traffic; new money likes new cars. Eventually the rich will also start buying more classic cars, but currently most would rather not be seen in second-hand stuff.