What's the latest trend for superexpensive cars? Making them look dull.
The matte paint once reserved for cars headed for crash testing is showing up on the highest of high-end models. The new Mercedes-Benz CLS sedan and Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale coupe can be ordered with matte finishes, and the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento supercar concept showed up with matte paint last month at the Paris auto show.
The reason crash-test cars get a matte finish is because there's no need to spend the extra money to add coats of glossy paint to something that's about to be driven into a wall. But that casual look is catching on.
Matte-finished surfaces have enticed car designers for decades.
"The Lancia Stratos Zero that Bertone debuted in 1970 is the first matte-finished concept I remember," Lorenzo Ramaciotti, vice president of Fiat Group Style and a respected automotive design historian, said at the Paris show.
Actually, a matte-finished car body becomes more glossy the more it is washed. But the glossiness is not uniform, so the car's exterior can start to look like a leopard's coat. Automakers and paint shop makers have spent years trying to develop matte-finish compositions that will not get spotty.