In world of drab greys, blacks and all manner of entirely forgettable metallics in between, VW reds always stand out. But did you know the first ‘proper’ red didn’t appear on VW’s colour palette until April 1956? Indeed, the vibrant Coral Red (L 351) must have represented a breath of fresh air in the still relatively austere mid-1950s. Red, of course, has been a popular choice ever since – although you’ll struggle to match the diversity of red hues available during the flambouyant 1970s in VW’s current range of cars…
For those red car fans out there, here’s a list of some of the options that appeared in Volkswagen’s past car catalogues…
Introduced in 1956, the first red listed by VW was available for two years. Like all reds, Coral (L 351) had a tendency to fade, and when it did it became even more charismatic as you can see with the lovely patina example above.
L 258, Inca Red, broke cover in 1957 and ran for just a year before being replaced by the popular, retina blasting and incredibly long-lived Ruby Red (L 456) which was available from 1961 through to 1967 (below).
During the same period (1958-’59) customers could also have opted for the slightly darker Garnet Red (L 358).
A marginally brighter version of Coral, India Red below (L 451) made its first appearance in 1959. Sadly, it only lasted for a year and was available at the same time as the fractionally lighter Paprika Red (L 452) which ran from August 1959 to July 1960.
The bright and youthful Poppy Red (L 54) was only available on the Type 151 and 152 (left- and right-hand drive models of the Beetle Cabriolet). A real shame, as it’s a lovely rich red and looks great on the Beetle. It was available from 1966 to 1970.
The far more subdued regally named Royal Red (L 30) made its debut in 1968 and was available until 1970. Clementine (L 20 D) looks like a red on colour charts but in fact was a vibrant orange.
Iberian Red (L 31 F) emerged in 1970, alongside the rather individualistic Colorado Red metallic – code L 97 D. Kasan Red (L 30 B) – below – was available in 1971.
In 1973, Volkswagen customers could also choose Bahia Red (L 30 E), a colour shared, it seems, by Porsche, but it seems to be quite a rare colour.
The mid-‘70s, along with orange, represented something of a heyday for red paint lovers. In 1974 alone, there was a choice of four different reds; Bahia, Senegal (L 31 A), Ibiza (L 31 M), Malaga (L 30 C) and Phoenix (L 32 K).
The stunning Mars Red – below – (L 31 B) first appeared in 1977 and was carried over to VW’s range of water-cooled cars – including the Mk1 Golf. It was joined in 1979 by Indiana Red (LA3V). Daytona Red (L458), Monarch Red (L459), Cherry Red (LA3A), metallic Surinam Red (LA3Y) and Gambia Red (LA3B) followed.
Other reds during the late ‘70s/‘80s included Classic Red (LA3G), Red Spice (LA3W), Colorado Red Pearl (LB3Y), Hot Chilli Red (LC3L), plain Red (LG3L), Flash Red (LP3G) and of course, the wonderfully rich Tornado Red (LY3D) which we think you’ll agree still looks great on the Mk2 Golf as below.
We’ve no doubt missed a few along the way, so if your colour’s not here – let us know. As we said in the intro, red oxidises more than virtually any colour – so bear this in mind if you’re trying to get an accurate colour match. Be mindful of the fact, also, that some colours – notably Mars Red – seemed to be available in various different shades, so make sure you get the right one!
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage
Thanks to www.thesamba.com for some of the information and pictures.