|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
Metallic paint, also called polychromatic is a type of paint that is commonly used on new automobiles. Metallic paint can reveal the contours of bodywork more than non-metallic, or "solid" paint. Close-up, the small metal flakes included in the paint create a sparkling effect, this should not get confused with metal flake paint.
Metallics nearly always consist of a base coat with a clear lacquer or urethane top coat for protection and extra gloss. Historically, it was difficult to achieve an invisible repair if the paint was damaged because it is critical at which angle the flakes in the paint lie. Modern techniques have more or less eliminated this problem.
Two rarer variations are pearlescent paint, which appears as subtly different colours depending on the angle and intensity of the light, and "flip" colours where the colour changes more radically (e.g. from purple to orange) depending on the viewing angle. Flip colours have been used by Nissan on some special parts, and are frequently associated with TVR cars.
A final variation, hardly ever used on automobiles but common on bikes and motorcycles, is "flamboyant" or "candy apple" paint. This consists of a metallic silver base coat covered with a translucent coloured lacquer, or more commonly urethane. Flamboyant paint gives an unusual effect of depth, but is almost impossible to touch up after damage without leaving an obvious mark.
Luxury car manufacturers (particularly German marques such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz) almost always charge a premium for the "option" of metallic paint on a new vehicle. This is often considered a captive market as metallic paints usually account for all but one or two of the colors from the palette available (only red, black, and white are available as solid colors from many brands). Buyers may choose to pay it, in some cases merely to maintain resale value.
The price premium for metallic paint is GBP 500 or USD 1000 for a large car, while pearlescent paint (such as White Diamond Pearl) is even more expensive. For BMW Canada and BMW North America, the metallic paint premium applies to entry-level offerings such as the BMW 3 Series (resulting in a disproportionate number of 3 Series cars sold in the late 2000s being white) and the BMW X1, while more expensive cars such as the BMW 5 Series have metallic paint as a no-charge option.
Given that having a car subsequently resprayed in a metallic color is no more expensive than for a solid color, many consider the price premium for metallic paint as a way to boost the base price of a luxury car. Japanese luxury marques and many mass market brands usually do not charge extra for metallic paint.