Living near a national park has its perks. This past weekend, my girlfriend and I decided to enjoy the crisp fall air one last time before winter’s cold, icy grip turns Ohio’s landscape into a barren wasteland. Walking through the woods, I looked up and found myself beneath a canopy of banana-yellow leaves under a clear blue sky. So many of the best things in life come in yellow: sunshine, daisies, and lemonade, just to name a few.

Naturally, my thoughts turned to BMWs.

Yellow might be the most extroverted car color of them all. It elicits a primal response. We paint things yellow when we want them to be noticed: taxis, school buses, safety railings, and warning labels. Applying such a bright, happy color to a subdued, mature shape like a 3 Series seems like it should be a bad idea, but it most certainly isn’t.

Photo: BMW Group

Nearly every generation of M3 has had its own signature shade of yellow. The current M3/M4 has the lime-gold Austin Yellow; the E46 M3 had the metallic dijon-mustard Phoenix Yellow. My favorite, the E36 M3, had the inimitable Dakar Yellow.

Dakar Yellow is analogous to the E36 itself, its creamy bright yellow hue arresting, yet soft. It resembles the skin of a banana. Unusually, it’s a single-stage paint, which means no protective layer of clearcoat; it was a unique touch on the E36 chassis, although cars that haven’t been particularly well cared-for tend to fade and bleach out (and these days look more like the inside of a banana).

Photo: BMW Group

Originally finding its home on the E36 M3 and occasionally on the Z3, it’s now a popular choice for BMW’s Individual program. A quick Google search shows its use on over a dozen more modern BMW chassis, and it looks equally beautiful in each application. Like a big yellow smiley face,  you just have to grin each and every time you see it.—Cam VanDerHorst





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