Leather is a fabulous material for automotive interiors, but it must always be used in a tasteful and well-considered manner. That rarely applies to white leather.
Either of them – that is; tasteful or well-considered.
It just doesn’t get any less practical than a car with interior surfaces in white – particularly not those surfaces which are intended for sitting on for hours. While leather is generally quite durable and hardwearing in many ways, it’s simply physically impossible to retain a uniform whiteness to the entire surface of an otherwise elegantly upholstered seat if it is used regularly.
But personally, I feel that the whole issue of tastefulness – or lack of – is a much bigger problem. To my knowledge, we’ve had white interiors for just about as long as we’ve had cars. It has always been unpractical, but it hasn’t always been untasteful. There was a short period during the eighties where it was viewed as the most stylish of statements. The naysayers will naturally dismiss such a statement by arguing that the whole decade was defined by an utter lack of taste all together. Admitted, that’s a tough one to counter.
Nonetheless, there was one car – one particular car – which rose above all the others with white leather interiors in the eighties. In fact, it did so even before the eighties. And after the eighties too. The Lamborghini Countach. The greatest of all supercars.
I’m tempted to say that applies both then and now. Yet, I’m told that there are those who believe that the world of supercars has moved on and even improved. But then again, there are also those who claim the earth is flat.
When I boldly claim that white leather just looks right in a Countach, some might answer that it’s the entire car which is deprived of taste. I however could not possibly agree with such a far-fetched statement. With the Countach we’re simply dealing with a car whose primary function – perhaps even its very reason for existing – is to astonish. Every trick in the book is permissible.
And that’s why those eighties Lamborghini’s with white leather interiors look so amazing. Some of them even had a matching white exterior too. I liked it back then in the eighties, and I still do now. But the white interiors in other cars just never sat well with me – and they still don’t today either. A Cadillac is not here to astonish, a Mercedes-Benz isn’t either, and a Mini most certainly isn’t.
Those to which white leather interiors always appeal might well chirp in: “but it’s not meant to astonish; only look good”, and that’s great – if it wasn’t for the fact that it very rarely does. The contrast to dark carpets or even just lightly tinted windows is just too big. There’s no visual harmony. And of course, it’s still highly unpractical. The more practical the car is, the more unpractical the white leather interior appears.
Which is quite possibly one of the reasons why it – against all odds – looks so right in a Countach: Lamborghini owners generally tend to not drive them much anyway.
But everyone else really ought to stay clear of it. On just about any other car, a white leather interior largely resembles a white jumpsuit on Elvis – during his most obese period. And including all the rhinestones. Spectacular, yes. But neither practical nor tasteful.