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Back in the early 1990s, an impressive 85 percent of all Ferrari models were dressed in red paint. While we can understand that Ferrari and red go together like peanut butter and jelly (or red white and... green), it's tough to understand how 85 percent of all customers could buy such a rare horse, yet insist upon such a common color. Apparently, more recent Ferrari owners agree, since the number of Prancing Horses in rosso have dropped to "only" 45 percent for 2010.

Greater differentiation is one reason for the decrease in the color red, but it also helps that Ferrari has become far better at utilizing the rest of the color spectrum. The automaker tells us in the post-jump press release that two-tone liveries have become one of the latest crazes, with the roof painted a different color than the rest of the body. Ferrari has also says it has perfected a three-layer painting technique that utilizes three coats of paint for a deeper and more brilliant color than has been offered in the past.

Perhaps the coolest thing Ferrari is doing with color is customizing its finish to just about any paint the customer desires. For example, if you like the color of the yellow fire hydrant at the end of your street, simply send a sample to the folks in Maranello, and they'll match it. Not that we'd recommend it...

Ferrari's efforts to add a bit more color to the most famous lineup of exotic supercars is obviously paying dividends. The automaker claims that special-order finishes have gone up from only one percent 10 years ago to 10 percent today. So go ahead, don't be yellow. Order your Ferrari in Blu Scozia, Avio Met or Vinaccia.

Want to know more about Ferrari's Pantone proclivities? Hit the jump.
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The color red has been used to identify Italian cars and drivers since the very earliest days of motor racing. After sponsor-inspired liveries were introduced to Formula 1 in the 1960s, Ferrari remained the only constructor to stick with tradition and continue to clothe its single-seaters exclusively in the classic red. Consequently, its production cars and sports cars were identified with that color for quite some time thereafter. In fact, there was a saying around Modena that went 'cinc sghei püssè ma russ' (a few liras more so long as it's red). For a long while, red was seen as the almost obligatory color choice for Ferrari owners. In fact, during the early 1990s, 85 per cent of all Ferraris built sported red liveries.

That dynamic has now changed radically, and clients can choose from a vast range of colors and types. Purchasing a Ferrari is an exclusive experience, the first step of which is, of course, choosing the bodywork color. This is one of the personalization areas that has developed rapidly in the last few years, not merely in terms of the number of colors available but also the technologies used.

Of late, there has been something of a surge in the popularity of two-tone liveries – as the name implies, these usually involve two contrasting colors being used, one for the roof and the other for the bodywork. Two-tone liveries were extremely fashionable in the past too, the most notable example being the 1957 250 GT. This beautiful sports car has a white body and a green roof, and won the 2009 Villa d'Este and the 2010 Palm Beach Cavallino Classic Concours d'Elegance among other high-profile classic car plaudits. Ferrari has been offering its clients the option of two-tone liveries for several years now, a choice that underscores both the elegance of its GTs and the power and aggression of its extreme sports cars.

Ferrari doesn't just use technology to build cars that are increasingly powerful and exciting to drive. It also applies its high tech skills to "clothing" them. The Prancing Horse recently developed and introduced an advanced painting technique that lends its cars an even glossier sheen than ever. In the so-called "three-layer" technique, the paint is applied in three separate coats to give the bodywork a deeper, more vibrant color than a traditional metallic one could achieve. The paintwork also has an iridescent finish that comes to the fore when sunlight catches it from various angles. When this three-layer technique is used with a two-tone livery, the result is extremely striking and adds even more character to any Ferrari.

That is still not the end of the livery story, however, as Maranello's personalization programs also ensure clients have yet another option available to them: the possibility of providing a color sample from which their car's paintwork will be copied. This color sample can be taken from any item the client owns or is very much attached to. It's a very popular option indeed now and really does mean that the color choices for Ferraris are truly unlimited.

Since 2004, the Ferrari complex in Maranello has been home to a sophisticated water-based paint facility that allowed the Prancing Horse to comply with new EU emissions and energy reduction requirements three years in advance of their introduction. Ferrari also simultaneously launched a special research project focused on extending the color range to meet the increasingly sophisticated and diverse requests of its clients. By combining leading-edge application techniques with invaluable materials retrieved from the company archives, Ferrari can now also offer a unique catalogue of 10 sophisticated and exclusive "historic" colors inspired by the classic cars of the 1950s and 60s. That list includes evocative names of the likes of Blu Scozia, a chic dark pastel blue typically sported by cars competing in the Tourist Trophy, Avio Met, a bright, ultra-sporty blue, and Vinaccia, a color that brims with character and personality.

At the same time, Ferrari also began making what it calls its "Challenge" liveries. These mimic the paintwork stripes sported by covered-wheel racing cars. First launched as a signature look for the 430 Scuderia, the Challenge liveries were an instant hit for all the mid-rear-engined sports cars, and now encompass everything from the stripes inspired by classic racing cars used to help identify the various drivers competing, to the Italian tricolor. The latter solution, in fact, has captured the imaginations of our clients abroad who choose it to underscore the Italian character and quality of their cars.

Ferrari created its personalization program to offer clients all over the world a vast array of options that would ensure their cars were truly unique. Thanks to the tens of thousands of possible combinations it affords, it is now genuinely is the case that no two Ferraris are identical.

As a result of these developments, the cars constructed by Ferrari now come in an unprecedented variety of colors. Needless to say, traditional red continues to predominate, accounting for about 45 per cent of all cars built over the last few years. That aside, however, the color choices being made by owners have diversified radically in that same period. Special order finishes, for instance, went from just 1 per cent of output in the early 2000s, to over 10 per cent in 2010. The message being, of course, that it doesn't have to be red to be a Ferrari anymore.