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Car Couture: New Models Change Color, Wardrobe

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant navigates the New York International Auto Show in search of the best, worst and coolest from automakers’ new lineups. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor Wednesday and Thursday before the show’s public opening on Friday, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Smart car-owners will soon be able to match their car to their outfit — or anything else.

The company has long offered buyers the option of seven standard colors, as well as a wider array of more customized paint options. But this year, drivers will have even more control over features like the leather interior, hatchback tops, and color trim on say, the door panels, speakers and dashboard. That personalization could add more than $3,000 to the 2013 Smart Fortwo cabriolet’s $17,890 price tag.

And when they get bored of one option, says a spokesman, the exterior panels can be swapped out for new ones, at a cost of roughly $700. “We can match any color,” he says. “The sky’s the limit. You could dip your Smartcar in gold if you wanted to.” Drivers can also go for a more temporary change with customized wraps — essentially, a giant sticker that covers the car’s exterior. A spokesman says consumers often create them for weddings and other special occasions.

Sorry fashionistas, but switching car components isn’t quite as simple as swapping out shoes or nail polish. Drivers will need to bring their car into a dealership to change the panels. And those interior components, once personalized, aren’t easily changeable.


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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.