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A Big No Thank You to Red Piping

Yes, I realise that the objective is most likely the exact opposite, but I feel it makes the car look cheap and tacky. Even more so if the body is red as well. It just doesn’t work for me.

It’s the stitching especially on seats which I’m talking about – regardless really, whether it’s just regular stitching or piping. And more specifically, it’s the red type which is more often than not used as a contrast to a seat of a different colour.

Red piping in this case combined with a black seat. To my eye, it just doesn’t look good. Not a Beetle and not on any other car either.

Oddly, I must admit that the red sole on a Christian Louboutin stiletto has a brilliant visual impact. So much so, that he has patented the stylish yet seductive effect. For the benefit of our readers who are unwilling to admit that they know of the Louboutin stiletto, we hereby give you a small gallery of eye-candy:

To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet attempted to patent the red piping which we sometimes find in various cars.

Not surprising if you ask me. Because why would you? I truly dislike the look, and I’m even quite adamant about it looking cheap and nasty, pretty much regardless of which car the red piping is used on. An opinion which should be viewed in context of me normally having a great appreciation of subtle and tasteful contrast colours on classic cars – and I suppose on new ones as well for that matter. But it just doesn’t work when we’re talking red piping. And as already mentioned – it’s only made worse if the car in question is sporting a bright red paintjob as well.

Red, red and red. It’s an impossible task, and a Porsche 928 can’t pull it off either – unless of course it’s intended for a role in a circus.

My close friend and ViaRETRO’s International Editor recently sent me a link to a classic car which was up for sale. To be honest, it was a thoroughly stunning car too! After all, has TVR everbuilt a car that wasn’t stunning? But it had red piping on its seats, which immediately made me realise that red piping and me just don’t gel. It was of course made even worse by this specific TVR being painted red. I generally struggle with red cars in the first place, but when further red effects are put into play as well, one really needs to tread carefully. It would need to be applied very discreetly – not something which has ever been TVR’s core competence. But if nothing else, I suppose that particular TVR at least displayed this fact perfectly.

So thank you for the link Anders, but no thank you. The red piping ruined it for me.

But thinking about it afterwards; was it a hysterical overreaction? Should I perhaps show a bit more tolerance towards TVR’s grave mistake? Or was there something universally wrong with what they had done?

Red piping is of course not entirely the same as the effect obtained by the red soles of a Christian Louboutin stiletto. However this is closer to the automotive parallel of the Louboutin stiletto. But what’s the verdict? Does it work?

Eventually I concluded that yes, there is in fact just something universally wrong about red piping. And not just in red cars either, as they always seem to look vulgar and somewhat crude. Which is really quite ironic seeing as its usually an effect utilised in an attempt to make a car appear more exclusive and upmarket. But the end result never fails to be the exact opposite. It appears over-the-top and just plain Bling!

I only managed to find one single car which could just about get away with it: The Rolls-Royce Camargue – the elegant version of late-seventies extravaganza. In my opinion, this statement of stylish decadence can indeed carry its red piping with some degree of success. What say you dear reader?

They almost manage to pull it off on the Camargue. Probably mostly because the seats are so voluptuous that they just about hide the red piping altogether. Is this almost a Louboutin effect? Well, no – not quite. But it’s as good as it gets.

But every other picture I could find of red piping or stitching, only went to confirm my point: It looks plain cheap.

Truth be told, it’s the red one which I’m apparently especially oversensitive towards. Contrasting grey, green or blue tones are not near as bad, and white piping in combination with the right colours can actually look quite acceptable. Yet as a general rule, I would still prefer my seats sanspiping. But don’t just take my word as gospel. View the pictures below and please do chip in with your own views in the comments area below.


7 Responses

  1. Dave Leadbetter

    All contrasting seat piping is horrid, no exceptions. Although the owners must believe in their own impeccable taste it is the automotive equivalent of wearing a shell suit. It is a plague that seems particularly prevalent in the world of “classic British sports cars” with a virtual guarantee that any resale red roadster will have cheap black faux leather seat covers with lurid tart red piping. Even if it was supplied like that when new (which I just refuse to believe), there is no justification to continue with the crime. The cycle of dull witted and unimaginative acceptance of this distasteful practice must be broken. Contrasting stitching, yes. Quilted panels, double yes. Check and tartan pattern, triple yes, and the brighter the better please. But contrasting piping improves literally nothing, ever. My word is law.

  2. Ken Wiesner

    I have to agree the red piping looks tacky Like a kids carnival ride The clean look with stitching that doesn’t stand out it far more elegant and rich looking

  3. Anders Bilidt

    A controversial subject considering just how many classics I see with contrasting piping on their seats. Yet, I must agree wholeheartedly! I’m not a big fan of the look either. It does indeed look rather tacky.
    Yet, how about a mid-eighties Lamborghini Countach in pearlwhite with a white leather interior? Would red piping be appropriate then?

  4. YrHmblHst

    Hot Damn!!! man…do I like those shoes…and fishnet hose and… :)
    oh…what were we talking about…? uh, um, er…oh yeah, cars I think. No…red piping on seats, yeah, thats it…
    ANY-WAAAYyy…I would agree mostly – with a reservation or two – about red piping. My GTV6 Balocco Edition had contrasting red pinstriped piping [from the factory] and I thought it pretty spiffy. red stitching on a black seat – as long as the car is red, black or maybe silver – is fine as long as its not overdone also. In fact, I think the real issue isnt the contrasting piping itself so much but the SIZE of the welt. The photos given as example underline this – shoot, in most of them I would object to piping of that girth in matching colour even!
    Contrasting piping has to be done carefully and narrowly. I can envision acceptable examples of most any colour in my minds eye save for yellow – just cant ‘see’ yellow piping looking good, and yellow is one of my favourite colours, especially on cars! Somehow, I just cant see it…

  5. Anders Bilidt

    I remember seeing a late-nineties BMW which was turquoise with an off-white leather interior with contrasting turquoise piping. Yup, it was decidedly wommit-inducing…


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