Car enthusiasts can be a superstitious bunch, with many urban legends abounding around certain markers which seem to predict a sad fate. In racing circles some believe green cars or the number 13 bring bad luck and misfortune, while there are countless stories of ghost cars, trinkets and mascots bringing good fortune or safety, and more.
Most people know the spooky stories behind the Porsche 550 Spyder 1950s movie star James Dean was killed in, or the mysterious injuries surrounding the Gräf & Stift touring car Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in, sparking World War I. These supposedly cursed cars had famous owners die in them, and kept killing and maiming for years to come later on.
Ferrari’s first Grand Prix World Champion, Alberto Ascari, was noted as one of the most cautious and sensible drivers of the incredibly-dangerous 1950s. The 1952 and 1953 F1 champion always raced with his lucky blue helmet, but he tested fate in 1955 when he took a new Ferrari race car for a test drive using a friend’s helmet only to mysteriously lose control, crash and die minutes later.
While many consider green cars unlucky, there is a particular shade of yellow which seems to afflict one brand of cars with tragic and unfortunate accidents. Bright yellows have been used on go-fast Hondas since the 1980s, even being taken on by aftermarket tuning shops like the famous SPOON Sports on their V8-smashing race cars.
Honda’s Phoenix Yellow and Sunlight Yellow (both coded Y56) has graced all the go-fast VTEC warriors for many years now, but they replaced an ochre shade linked to terrible crashes, unfortunate incidents, and general bad juju: Barbados Yellow. Listed as Y49 on Honda colour charts, Barbados Yellow was introduced in the cult classic second-generation Honda CR-X sports hatch.
Based on the award-winning Civic compact car, the 1987-1991 CR-X was a three-door sports hatch that helped spur the sports compact Japanese tuner car culture in America thanks to its lively handling, compact dimensions and revvy, sonorous 1.6-litre DOHC B16 VTEC four-cylinder engine. Among other retina-punching 80s colours, Barbados Yellow suited the fun, zazzy spirit the CR-X represented but the wheels soon fell off the bright shade.
Honda fans claim Barbados Yellow cars are involved in a higher rates of crashes, unexplained damage, vandalism and misfortune, but is this tall tales or is there something bringing the sour vibes?
Because we can’t hold a séance or communicate with the dark side we can’t answer if there are dark other-worldly shenanigans afoot, though there is an interesting and scientific side note. Sales of Barbados Yellow Y49-coded CR-Xs were halted in 1991 due to a radioactive element being used in the production of the paint!
Y49 Barbados Yellow was apparently causing Honda line-workers and engineers to get sick from exposure to the radiation, leading to the cancellation of the colour. From this we now have the epic Phoenix and Sunlight yellows that are famous today, though nobody has been able to explain why Barbados Yellow CR-Xs are over-represented in crashes and other misfortunes.
So if Y49 is the mark of the devil for VTEC fanbois, how did yellow Hondas get such a foothold in the lore? Phoenix and Sunlight Yellow, both coded Y56, is arguably the more famous “modern yellow” which Honda actually brought back for a limited-edition new-generation Civic Type R, having found fame on cars like the DC2 Integra Type R and EK9 Civic Type R – the second and third R-models from Honda, respectively.
I mean, they even had a couple of Y56 CTRs on Initial D! C’mon!
Regardless of whether you are superstitious or not, you will need to get insurance for your car. For a quick quote go to www.enthusiast.com.au.