Good news for the Mary Kay cosmetics lady, who once had to have her Cadillac custom-painted. Hot pinks, pastel corals and bright purples have made it onto the palette for 1992-model cars, a leading automotive paint supplier reports.

"The love affair with the automobile is being rekindled, and this romance will be expressed in the adoption of some brighter colors reminiscent of the 1950s," said Robert S. Daily, color marketing manager for Du Pont Automotive Products in Troy.Color and styling are playing an increasingly important role in car designs because more people are viewing their automobiles as an extension of their personalities - either who they are or who they would like to be, Daily said.

Du Pont, which has tracked car colors since the 1950s - when bright pinks and corals were all the rage - analyzes trends based on research gathered from major fashion centers in in Paris, Milan, Rome and New York. This research is also used to select and create colors the company thinks will appeal to buyers in the home and commercial furnishing fields.

Each year, Du Pont formulates between 250 and 300 new colors which automakers choose from for their new cars and trucks.

The resurgence of 1950s-era colors is helped by technology which did not exist 40 years ago, Daily said, like waterborne paint finishing systems and application processes which use a thin color coat as a base covered by a heavier clear coat for added luster, shine and durability.

Du Pont will begin showing its 1993-model colors to carmakers around the world this summer. Also later this year, it will release its 1988-model color popularity ratings.

For 1987, Americans took on an air of patriotism, as red, white and blue ranked as the most popular new vehicle colors.

Bright red remained the leading choice for compact cars, while white replaced medium gray in mid-sized and larger cars. Blue replaced white as the leading color in the light-duty truck and van market, Du Pont said.