History behind the car logos

The Alfa Romeo logo represents the coat of arms of the city of Milan and are related to the crusades, hence the cross. On the right, a snake is eating a figure, either a child or a Saracen (depends on who you ask).

Audi logo

The four rings in the Audi logo represent the four companies of the Auto-Union consortium of 1932 – DKW, Horch, Wanderer, and Audi. The Audi name (latin for “Hear!”) disappeared after WWII, but was revived in1965.

The BMW logo is a rounded, stylized representation of a spinning propeller blade (the company build military airplane enginges originally).

Buick logo

Buick‘s logo originated from the coat of arms of the Buick family (of Scottish origin); a red shield with a checkered silver and azure diagonal line running from the upper left corner of the shield and a gold cross in the lower left corner (the cross had a hole in the center with the red of the shield showing through), and in the upper right corner was an antlered deer head with a jagged neckline. The logo underwent many revisions, then in 1960 the logo was changed to three shields, to represent the three Buick models in production at the time (LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra).

Cadillac logo

The original Cadillac logo is based on the family crest of the man for whom the company was named, Antoine de La Mothe, Sieyr de Cadillac (though many believe the crest is a fake, concocted for the purposes of the company’s logo). The symbolism of the wreath surrounding the crest is uncertain (though the original wreath design was a bouquet of tulipped leaves).

Popular legend has it that the Chevrolet logo was inspired by wallpaper in a French hotel where William C. Durant was staying (the legend says he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on the wallpaper and tore a piece of it off to keep to show to friends and later turn into the company logo). However, his wife says that the bowtie emblem was first seen by her husband in a Virginia newspaper on a vacation around 1912, upon which he told her that the thought it’d be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet (per Chevrolet Pro Management Magazine, October 1986).

The Chrysler logo has undergone quite a few changes over the years; the one shown here is an adaptation of the original medallion logo used on Chrysler cars at its inception in 1925. This logo was brought back to use in 1994, and the pair of silver wings were added after the company merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998. Now that Chrysler’s been sold to Cerberus, they’re switching back to the Pentastar design, though the cars are still using the logo shown here.

The Dodge Ram logo first appeared as a hood ornament in the 1930s, used on both trucks and cars. The Ram was chosen for the image it portrays – sure-footed, King of the Trail.

Ferrari logo

The prancing horse featured on the Ferrari logo was the emblem of Italian WWII flying ace Fancesco Baracca, whose parents persuaded Enzo Ferrari to use the symbol of their late son for his Alfa Romeo race cars. When Ferrari later started his own car company, he continued use of this logo.

Henry Ford‘s right-hand-man, Harold Wills, printed business cars to earn money as a teen, and when Mr. Ford needed a logo, Wills pulled out his old printing set and used a font that he had used for his own cards. The oval was added in 1912, and blue was added for the Model A in 1927.

Infiniti logo

The Infiniti logo is derived from the symbol for infinity, not surprisingly. The concept of the open road and traveling toward infinity was one the company wanted the customer to feel. The logo also suggest Mt. Fuji.

Jaguar logo

Originally the Swallow Sidecar Company, Jaguar gained its new name in 1945, though why this particular animal was chosen is uncertain (though it makes a much better hood ornament than a swallow…). It’s thought the leaping jaguar is meant to represent the speed, power, and quickness of the cars.

Lamborghini logo

The founder of Lamborghini, Ferrucio Lamborghini, had a passion of bull fighting, as evidenced by the logo chosen for his car company – a charging bull. Mr. Lamborghini also carried this theme over to the names of his cars, almost all of which were named after eithera breed of fighting bull or a paritcular bull.

The trident prominent in the Maserati logo is the traditional symbol for Bologna, where the cars were originally made (they’re now built in nearby Modena).

Mazda logo

Rei Yoshimara, a world-renowned corporate image-creator, designed the Mazda logo. The ‘V’ represents wings outstretched.

Mercedes logo

The three pointed star of Mercedes’ logo represents their domination of land, sea, and air. First used on a Daimler in 1909, a laurel wreath was added in 1926 to signify the union with Benz, and was later simplified to the current logo design in 1937.

Mitsubishi logo

Some believe that the Mitsubishi logo represents a ship’s propellers (Mitsuibishi was involved in shipbuilding early in the company’s existence). However, a more commonly accepted explanation is that the logo is formed by the joining of two family emblems and does not represent any part of a ship.

Porsche logo

The Porsche badge is the coat of arms of the city of Stuttgart (where the cars are built). The city was built on the site of a stud farm, which explains the horse in the coat of arms; the antlers and red and black stripes are part of the arms of the Kingdom of Wurttemberg.

Subaru logo

Subaru is the first Japanese company to use a name derived from its own language, and that name is reflected in its logo. The name refers to a group of six stars in the constellation of Taurus (we refer to them as the Pleiades).

The Toyota logo is comprised of three ellipses, representing the heart of the customer, the heart of the product, and the ever expanding technological advancements and opportunities that lie ahead. Another interpretation is that it represents the three interlocking aspects of the culture of the company – freedom, team spirit, and progress. Also, in Japanese ‘Toyo’ means an abundance of, and ‘ta’ is rice. In some Asian cultures, those blessed with an abundance of rice are believe to be blessed with great wealth.

Volkswagen logo

The Volkswagen logo is simple, but the name has an interesting meaning – in German, it translates as the “Peoples’ Car”.[Source gawlowski.com]
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40 Comments

  1. Stefan says:

    The explanation of the BMW logo is plain wrong. The blue and white are taken straight from the Bavarian flag. By the way the B in BMW stands for Bavarian.

  2. driver says:

    Volvo?

  3. Slatts says:

    Jaguar are so called because it was decided that SS, what Swallow Sidecars became , was a bit inappropriate after WWII so as the 1935 ‘SS Jaguar’ salon was SS cars last model they simply dropped the SS part. The SS90 & more famous SS100 were their sports cars of the same era.
    I use to have a SS Jaguar 1 1/2 – nice cars for the time.
    But my favourite Jag was my XK 120, I drove it until it totally fell to bits in 1967!

  4. Anonymous says:

    its only coincidence that Bavarian and Bayerisch match up…

  5. Anonymous says:

    i love lambos

  6. velijn says:

    Alfa Romeo: the snake eating a child and a coronet above it are actually the arms of the powerful Visconti family in Milan (the snake is giving birth to a human)

  7. A.J. says:

    Mitsubishi is a Japanese family name, and translates to THREE (mitsu) DIAMONDS (bishi).

  8. Ace says:

    This whole article is filled with plenty of just plain crap. Very poor research. Looks like the writer simply interviwed his drinking buddies and ginned up a lot of it. I believe he is sincere, but simply ignorant.

    By the way, here is something on BMW — The logo “does not in fact symbolize a spinning propeller according to a BMW spokesman Joerg Huebner (although the imagery did appear in post-WWI advertisements). The BMW roundel badge is believed to have been partially derived from the logo of its predecessor company Rapp Motorenwerke, while ultimately taking on the colors and checkers from the arms of Bavaria”

    Further, read this which confirms the same, and with good sourcing: http://www.motorcycle.com/news/bmw-roundel-celebrates-90-years-67835.html

  9. casey says:

    his name was (count) FRANCESCO Baracca, and he was an ACE in world war ONE. He flew a yellow plane with said prancing horse and got a score of 34 before putting a bullet in his own head after being shot down. geez this research sucked balls!

  10. catweasel says:

    I think three in japanese is “san”

  11. Koeltzsch says:

    Seems like the best cars still come from Germany. Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and VW

    I’m not sure as to where the BMW logo derives from. In school we were always told that it is a symbolic propeller, as they used to make airplane motors once.
    Ahh, who cares… Audis are still the best =D

  12. nunya says:

    ………thats not the symbol for infinity.

  13. jeff77789 says:

    what about honda?

  14. classicfomoco says:

    bayerisch means bavarian smart ones

  15. classicfomoco says:

    if you look up bayerisch, it means bavarian in german.

  16. classicfomoco says:

    the technical name for BMW is Bayerisch Motoren Werke. It makes sense that it would be listed in German. Meaning Bavarian Motors Factory

  17. salmanpapa says:

    Everyone talks bullshit… The following explanation is from the bmw companies official previews… BMW logo symbolizes “aircraft propeller against a blue sky” BMW For BAVARIAN MOTOR WORKS….. Rest all saying history is all crap n stupid false information… People can very easily verify from The company itself… Makes sense … Ha ha ha

  18. eric says:

    salmanpapa thanks , you are correct.. and if anyone has doubts the time line is proof … yes BMW started out as an engine manufacture – the horz twin intended for light aircraft , after the war they had the design for a great little engine and couldn’t put them into military aircraft ..of course you know why … and now you know reason behind a horz twin shaft drive motorbike … ( i’m sure it was an easy sell being that the Bavarian colors are blue and white also )
    - read history – not advertisements

  19. totkul says:

    LAMBORGHINI palink qrenz

  20. ma101 says:

    Wheres Nissan Or hummer Or Honda there HUGE Its actully kinda cool seeing all the symbols and what they mean but I thought the BMW Was right its also Bavarian Motor Works A.K.A Bmw

  21. Tarkus says:

    FYI.
    AUDI is correctly described as being derived from the latin word for “hear”. But did you know why?
    AUDI’s where build by the split up partner of Horch . THe guy wanted to also name his cars Horch, since he thought he was as entitles as the partner he founded the Horch company with. Well he was wrong and got sued. Since the word “horch” stand for “hear” in German language , he found that the latin equivalent AUDI would be quite suitable. There you have it.

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