Did the Ford Mustang's Color Shifting Paint Inspire the U.S. $100 Bill?

The 1996 Ford Mustang Cobra with mystic paint was a memorable vehicle. It was the first car to feature color shifting technology. The car's color changed from green to purple to gold, depending on the viewing angle.

"It is interesting that this color-shifting effect showed up in both the automotive industry and at the U.S. Department of Printing." - Paul Czornij

This color trend later showed up on the U.S. $20 bill and more recently, on the newly released U.S. $100 bill where the 20 and 100 respectively shift from copper to green as you tilt toward the light.

Is this a coincidence?

"When we developed this mystic color for Ford, we knew it would be groundbreaking and give us an edge," said Paul Czornij, technical manager of the Color Excellence Department at BASF. "It is interesting that this color-shifting effect showed up in both the automotive industry and at the U.S. Department of Printing."

The trend started with the Mystic Cobra with a green-based paint that shimmered in seven different colors from emerald green to purple and amber/gold being the most visible, depending on the angle.

Photo courtesy of 1996mysticcobra.com
Photo courtesy of 1996mysticcobra.com

It showed up again in the Ford line-up in 2004 in the Mystichrome Cobra, featuring paint changing from a bright, metallic topaz to cobalt blue to royal purple and lastly, into a deep onyx black.

BASF Color Shifting Trend - $100

The redesigned $20 bill began circulation right around the same time this car debuted. The new bill was supposed to be safer, smarter and more secure because people could easily check money and make sure it was not counterfeit upon one movement of the bill.

The color-shifting ink is still in production and is most recently featured on the newly released $100 bill along with additional enhanced security features.

"When we are determining car color trends, we look to see what is influencing today's world be it current events, pop culture, politics. All of these influenced our choice to develop this color-shifting paint," continued Czornij.

Hmmm. Maybe this also contributed to the U.S. government's ink choice as well.

Will we see this color shifting trend repeat itself in automotive paint?

Perhaps, the car will be able to completely change colors instead of just shifting depending on the angle. Research is taking place at the University of Michigan to develop 'Chameleon' crystals that could change the color of clothing or cars  on-demand, mainly to be used as a safety feature but could be used for exact customization and personalization of a vehicle.