History of Car Logos: 10 Iconic Car Emblems With Great Stories To Tell
The Mercedes-Benz logo is by far the most recognized automotive logo in the world and is represented by the famous three-pointed star in a circular orbit. The three sides of the star were meant to symbolize “Daimler’s ambition for universal motorization – on land, on water and in the air.”
The logo features a metallic gray color, meant to embody the company’s sophisticated and suave image. While the beautiful hood ornament of yesteryear is no longer visible on Mercedes cars, the star positioned in the center of its current vehicles still pulls the heartstrings of Merc faithful.
Another extremely well-known logo is Audi’s Four Rings, which symbolized the merger of four previously independent car manufacturers: Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer. Horch and the then-autonomous Audi were both created by August Horch, considered one of the pioneers of automotive engineering.
As for Wanderer, the company began its foray into the automotive market with bicycles and motorcycles, eventually entering automotive production in 1913. The fourth company, DKW, was another bicycle maker to start with, which has later started making cars in the 1920s.
Contrary to popular belief, the BMW “cockade” is not a rotating propeller, but actually a representation of the national colors of the Free State of Bavaria. BMW emerged from a company called Rapp Motor Works which used a cockade with a black horse as its emblem. BMW continued to use the same cockade but with the Bavarian mirror tints, due to legal constraints.
The idea that the BMW cockade represented the propeller of an airplane, came from a 1929 advertisement which imposed the cockade in the propeller of the plane. However, a clarification came from Mr. Plucinsky, a spokesperson for BMW who told the New York Times in 2010 that there was no connection between the airplane propellers and the logo.
Ferrucio Lamborghini’s zodiac sign was Taurus, or “bull,” and this and his obsession with bullfighting were symbolized in the emblem of the famous Italian sports car manufacturer. The gold of the logo is said to represent excellence and rich tradition, while the black represents power, prestige, integrity and elegance.
Lamborghini has a centuries-old history of naming its exclusive cars after famous fighting bulls. The story goes that in 1962, Ferrucio Lamborghini was at the Seville ranch of a famous Spanish fighting bull breeder, Don Eduardo Miura, and was very impressed with the magnificent Miura beasts. So much so that he decided to make the “rabid bull” the logo of his future automobile company.
Another of the most recognizable car manufacturer logos in the world is obviously Ferrari’s prancing horse. There’s a bit of a story attached – Enzo Ferrari is said to have taken the logo of the aircraft fuselage of Count Francesco Baracca, a prominent pilot and war hero of the Italian Air Force.
Enzo later met the pilot’s mother, Countess Paolina at a race, where she told him putting her son’s horse logo on his carriages would bring him luck. He then added the color of Modena, canary yellow for the background, and kept the horse black instead of red, as a symbol of mourning for the pilot who was killed in action.
Ferdinand Porsche, his son Ferry and the company’s trusted executives wanted a new emblem in the 1950s. The logo was allegedly coined by Ferry Porsche on a napkin, although another theory claims the emblem was the idea of a Porsche engineer, Franz Xaver Reimspieb.
However, what is certain is that it was inspired by the coat of arms of Stuttgart. Stuttgart means “stud garden” in German, as the city was known for breeding horses, hence the crawling horse on the logo.
This one is certainly one of the greatest automotive logos of all time. There is some controversy surrounding the origins of the VW emblem, however, with some claiming it was the creation of Porsche employee Franz Xaver, and others claiming that it was designed by Martin Freyer.
What is widely accepted, however, is that the logo’s blue color represents excellence and class of the company, and white symbolizes purity and charm. The iconic symbol was altered in 1996 and 2000 to include color mixtures and three-dimensionality.
The Volvo logo represents the prehistoric iron circle symbol with an arrow pointing diagonally up and to the right, the font being a hand-drawn design by famous calligrapher Karl-Erik Forsberg. It is also a symbol of ‘Mars’, the god of war, and also the symbol of ‘man’.
We know Volvo makes the safest cars in the world, but did you know the word Volvo means ‘I drive’, actually inspired by one of the company’s first companies, manufacturing bearings?
The ‘Leaping Jaguar’ is the traditional logo of the famous British car manufacturer which symbolizes speed, strength and power. The feline emblem is often seen in colors like black, metallic gray, and gold.
Black is said to embody Jaguar elegance, integrity and high performance, while metallic gray and gold exemplify the company’s sophistication, modernity and perfection. The leaping jaguar was embodied in a magnificent hood ornament until recently, when pedestrian safety regulations led to its demise.
10. Alfa Romeo
The popular logo of the Italian car manufacturer appeared in 1910. The red cross on the white field to the left of the coat of arms is the symbol of Milan, the home of Alfa Romeo. But have you ever wondered about the right side of the emblem?
The seemingly odd symbol of a serpent eating a human does not actually represent a hungry serpent, but rather a cleansed and renewed person coming out of his mouth, rather than being swallowed. The snake is an animal of the “changing, capable of renewing itself or of being reborn itself”.
If you think Ferrari and Porsche horses are alike, you are not alone, although we will probably never know the real story behind the similarity. Dennis Adler’s The Road To Zuffenhausen believes that the prancing horse on Count Barraca’s plane was actually that of Stuttgart (something Enzo Ferrari never commented on), but others differ by questioning the logic of a German horse on an Italian war plane. Still, the chance that the Ferrari logo may have had its roots in the Stuttgart coat of arms makes you think, doesn’t it?