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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.

We have been burdened with white interiors in cars right since the very birth of the automobile.

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.

It was big – really big – in the eighties. Just like the hair styles. But it just doesn’t work in a Porsche, does it?

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.

The super wedge – this one is from 1987.

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.

Quite possibly the only situation outside of a Countach where white leather seems appropriate?

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.

It frankly doesn’t get any more eighties than this. But please note – it works when applied in the Countach!

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.

This is how white it was…

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.

And this is how thrilled she was with white leather.

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.

 

9 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt
    @thunderbird, not bad at all…!! :-D

    Claus, there is a little part of me that agrees with you. At least so far as understanding exactly where you are coming from. Many cars – in fact, most cars – just don’t look right with a white leather interior. And I equally agree with you that a Countach can indeed pull it off and even look fabulous while doing so. But that does apply to a few other cars too. @thunderbird ‘s stunning ’66 T-bird is a perfect example of that. As was the ’61 Cadi which I cruised through Vegas and Red Rock Canyon: https://viaretro.com/2018/05/the-american-dream/. Frankly, it just wouldn’t have been anywhere near as stylish, cool and utterly amazing if the interior had been in any other colour…

    Come to think about it Claus, you even own a car which could potentially have pulled off a white leather interior: your SLC. Not just any SLC though. But with the very kitsch Lorinser bodykit and those gold mesh alloys, and white leather interior would have actually complimented the excellent pimp-look. Granted, it would have worked better if the exterior colour had been a metallic wine red. Would have looked fab… 8-)

    Reply
  2. Claus Ebberfeld
    Yes, I have to admit @thunderbird is right: With THAT car in THAT colour the contrast to the white interior actually works. The accompanying jumpsuit would then of course need to be another contrasting colour and I might suggest green velvet? Easy on the rhinestones!

    And I agree with @gteglman : The different periods of the Countach and Thunderbird make them hard to compare – only the Eighties are associated with white-on-white like that, and that combination I maintain that only a Countach could pull off.

    NOT an SLC, – and certainly not mine :)

    Reply
  3. yrhmblhst
    Ok, hate to be a contrarian – well, actually i dont…- but gonna hafta disagree here on more than one point.
    First, the 80s ruled, right after the early 60s. Clean fashion and the last decent pop music ever.
    Second, whilst white interiors are indeed a maintenance issue and somewhat impractical, they can indeed look good on other cars. [tho they rule in Countaches] One of my personal faves is a black 67 Plymouth GTX with a white interior – tho admittedly it is white vinyl. There usta be one of those in these parts – and Hemi / 4 speed to boot – that you could eat off of. I nearly swooned each time I saw it. have photos but no way to show them [slides]
    Knew a fellow with a 64 GTO – dark blue [Nocturne i think pontiac called it ] with a bright white interior. [again, not JUST vinyl – Morrokhide vinyl ! ]. Looked great.
    Not much for 4th generation Corvettes personally, but the all white 35th anniversary package on those looks great. Like to have one maybe when I get rich and famous.
    My folks had a 70 Ford Galaxie 500XL – the 2 door ‘fastback’ – that was a bronze metallic colour [a lot like 68 Corvette bronze] that had a white interior and a white vinyl top. Looked pretty darn good, even tho I was usually conscripted to clean and treat the seats to keep it looking so. I can even ‘go’ with the white in an 80s era 911; especially if its a 930 and the exterior and wheels are also white. Of course, I like white wheels on LOTS of stuff….
    Reply
  4. Dave Leadbetter
    I’m not sure about white leather but what that Countach really needs is bumpers complying with FVMSS 215.
    Reply
  5. Anders Bilidt
    , nice to have you back… ;-)
    Mmmmmm… a bronze metallic 1970 Ford Galaxie 500 Fastback with a white vinyl roof and matching white vinyl interior. If only that could be my first American classic – would no doubt put a smile on my face…
    Reply

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