Is Matte Finish The ‘New Black’ For Cars? – Driver’s Seat – WSJ

3M Co.
A new 3M film gives this Ford Focus the look of matte paint.

Among car designers and stylists, matte is becoming the new black. The not-so-shiny satin finish (usually in black) popularized by urban hot-rodders, racers and custom-motorcycle builders is going mainstream and upscale.

Ducati famously swathed its Monster Dark motorcycles in matte black. Lamborghini has been selling cars with matte black, white and even blue finishes. We have seen production cars from Audi, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz and others with matte paint that harks back to the 1949 Mercuries and ‘32 Ford highboy roadsters that personify the 1950s and 1960s when young hot-rodders on tight budgets often saved the paint for last.

Concentrating on making cars fast before making them good-looking, they drove their ‘rods on the street and the dragstrip covered in primer, which at least kept their bodies from rusting. Now car makers are using the look add edginess to their designs and buyers are paying extra for it. Even the aftermarket has gotten into the act, offering a range of paints, films and other coatings that cut down the shine of traditional auto finishes.

Coating, chemical and adhesive giant 3M Co. is among the latest to enter the matte market with a product called VentureShield Paint Protection Matte Finish Film 7710. It’s a translucent stick-on film that protects the underlying paint and imparts a matte finish. Typically installed by professional shops, the film is meant to stay on the car for years. It can be removed without damaging the paint, but cannot be re-used, the company says.