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What does black on black mean car?

What does black on black mean car?

The term “black on black” refers to a car that is entirely blacked out or murdered out, meaning all exterior trim pieces are black instead of chrome. This typically includes replacing chrome trim pieces like the wheels, door handles, mirrors, badges, and bumpers with black versions. The result is an aggressive, sinister look that many enthusiasts find desirable.

Origin of the Term Black on Black

The term originated in the custom automotive scene, where enthusiasts would modify their cars by blacking out brightwork like chrome bumpers and trim. This was particularly popular amongst owners of older American muscle cars in the 1980s and 90s. The look grew from car shows and clubs focused on customization and eventually made its way into mainstream car culture.

As blacked-out cars became more popular, the descriptor “black on black” emerged as shorthand for a car with all black exterior accents. It distinguishes these builds from partially murdered out cars by emphasizing the completeness of the color scheme. While the term can technically apply to any make or model, it is most commonly associated with American performance coupes and sedans from brands like Ford, Chevy, and Dodge.

Meaning and Connotations

The uniform black exterior projects a sense of mystery, stealth, and menace. As a result, black on black has a number of cultural associations:

  • Aggression – The sinister appearance conveys a sense of power and danger.
  • Street racing – Black on black is popular in illegal street racing culture.
  • Gang affiliation – The monochrome look has links to certain subcultures.
  • Wealth – It is an expensive custom look requiring aftermarket parts.
  • Personalization – Blacking out a car makes it unique and custom.

So while the term originated as merely a descriptive phrase, black on black carries certain connotations in car culture. The distinctive look projects an image that resonates with many enthusiasts.


There are a few common approaches to achieving the black on black look:

Purchasing a Blacked Out Model

Some manufacturers offer special edition models with blacked out accents direct from the factory. For example, Ford offers “murdered out” Black Appearance packages on the Mustang and F-150. These models feature black wheels, emblems, and other trim as standard. This makes achieving the look much easier versus modifying a regular model.

Aftermarket Modifications

More commonly, black on black involves customizing a car after purchase with aftermarket parts. Typical modifications include:

  • Black wheel paint or purchase of new black wheels
  • Smoked or blacked out taillights and headlights
  • Replacement of chrome trim and emblems with black
  • Adding dark window tint
  • Painting calipers black

Completely blacking out a car requires changes to most exterior trim. So it carries a cost in parts, paintwork, and installation.

Full Vehicle Wrap

Some choose to transform their car through a full vinyl wrap in black. This provides a temporary black on black exterior by covering the entire car surface in black vinyl. It avoids permanent changes needed with paint and parts swaps. However, a quality wrap can still cost thousands for installation by a professional shop.

Popular Models and Makes

Certain makes and models within the tuner and muscle car segments are particularly associated with black on black style:

Muscle Cars

  • Ford Mustang
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Chevrolet Corvette

American muscle cars like the Mustang are arguably the most iconic black on black vehicles. Their aggressive styling lends itself well to the look.

Tuner Cars

  • Nissan GT-R
  • Subaru WRX STI
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
  • BMW M3
  • Mazda RX-7

Japanese and European tuner cars popular amongst import enthusiasts also often get the black on black treatment. The look helps accentuate their sporty styling.


  • Ford F-150 Raptor
  • Ram 1500 Rebel
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Chevrolet Silverado

Truck owners also frequently black out their pickups, swapping chrome for black trim, wheels, etc. Large blacked out trucks project an imposing, rugged image.

Legal Issues Around Black on Black Cars

While mostly an aesthetic choice, there are some legal issues surrounding blacked out cars:

Legality of Window Tint

Dark window tint is common on these builds but often exceeds legal limits. Drivers can receive citations and fines for overly tinted windows which block interior views.

Headlight and Taillight Tinting

Smoked or blacked out headlights and taillights reduce visibility. Some states prohibit modifying tail lights if it reduces output below legal limits.

Identification Issues

All-black cars with tinted windows can make identifying details like make and model difficult. This could complicate police investigations and lead to profiling.

So black on black enthusiasts need to be mindful of laws regarding vehicle modifications. As with any build, functionality and safety should still be priorities.

Maintenance and Upkeep

The black on black aesthetic also requires some special care and maintenance:

  • Black paint and trim shows scratches and swirl marks more easily than chrome. Frequent washing and waxing is needed to maintain the finish.
  • Black wheels and exterior trim are more prone to brake dust buildup. Regular cleaning is required to keep the components looking dark and clean.
  • Chips and fading black paint on exterior trim may need touch-up painting to maintain the look.
  • Vinyl wraps need special cleaning products and care to avoid staining or damage when washing.

So while cool in appearance, black on black cars do require diligent upkeep. The uniform dark exterior and large amount of black components magnify any imperfections.


Black on black refers to a car with a completely blacked out exterior achieved through aftermarket modifications or factory packages. The look originated with enthusiasts modifying muscle cars but expanded to tuner cars, trucks, and special edition models. While mostly aesthetic, the sinister appearance carries cultural associations of mystery, stealth, and aggression. When done properly, a black on black exterior can make a car look incredibly cohesive and distinct on the road. But the style does require careful maintenance and awareness of laws around vehicle modifications. For the right vehicle though, few looks can match the custom nature of a blacked out ride.