A History of Car Logos

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Abarth logo
The Abarth shield shape represents the concept of victory; the red white and green bars were added in recent times to symbolize the Italian origin of these cars. The history of the scorpion in the logo is uncertain but believed to come from the zodiac sign of the founder, Mr. Carlo Abarth.
Alfa Romeo Logo
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).
Aston Martin logo
There have been a number of Aston Martin logos since the company started up in 1916. The first from 1920 was an amalgamation of the letters A and M. The next was inroduced in 1932 and the two wings were borrowed from the Bentley Logo signifying speed. The third was an evolution of the last and the design was gradually improved to keep up with modern tastes. It was modernised again to include the name "David Brown" in 1947 when he took over the company, lending his initials to several landmark vehicles in the AM range.
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.
BMW logo
People have mistakenly believed that the BMW logo is a rounded, stylized representation of a spinning propeller blade (the company build military airplane enginges originally). However, it actually predates airplane engine production by more than ten years. The emblem evolved from the Rapp Moternwerke company logo (which later grew into BMW), with colors from the flag of Bavaria incorporated.
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).
Chevrolet logo
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).
Chrysler logo
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.
Citroen logo
The Citroen car company was founded by Andre Citroen, who got started in the industry by building gear wheels. The two chevrons of their logo is meant to represent gear teeth.

The Cizeta logo portrays a wolf's head, representing the Tiberian she-wolf that fed Romulus and Remus, the orphaned children of Mars who founded Rome. The blue and yellow colors are the colors of Modena, Italy (where the company was founded, though it's since moved to California). The word 'Cizeta' is the founders's initials, when spoken in Italian (his name was Claudio Zampolli).

Corvette logo
The modern Corvette logo is a variation of that designed by Robert Bartholomew (an interior designer at Chevrolet) in 1953. It features two flags, one a checkered flag and the other one featuring to icons, a Chevrolet bowtie logo and a fleur-de-lis. The fleur-de-lis was chosen since Chevrolet was a French name, and a fleur-de-lis is a French symbol meaning peace and purity.
Daewoo logo
The origin of the Daewoo logo is uncertain, though our research indicates the three branches may be reprsentative of an image the company was striving for - growth as an automaker, stability in all the operations, and trust between company and customers. If you know more, please email us!
Dodge logo
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 WWI 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. Note that the logo shown here is technically the logo of the racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, though you will see it appear on the front fenders of many modern road-going Ferraris. The official company logo is the rectangular version encompasing the same prancing horse.
Fiat logo
In 1982, the Uno was the first Fiat to wear the new five-bar logo. Legend has it that Fiat design lead Mario Maioli was driving past the factory at night during a power outage, and saw the giant Fiat logo against the fading sky. He sketched what he saw; the spaces between the letters represents the light he could see between the letters of the sign.
Ford 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. Although, some readers here have suggested that it represents a pizza with one slice eaten!
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.
Koenigsegg logo
The phantom insignia on the Koenigsegg logo is a tribute to the Swedish air force squadron that operates out of the airbase where Koenigsegg's factory is also located (they use the ghost as their emblem).
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.
Lancia logo
The origin of the Lancia logo comes from its name, which means 'lance' in Italian (the founder was Vincenzo Lancia). An earlier version of this logo can be found here.
Lotus Cars logo
The letters at the top of the Lotus logo are the initials of Lotus' founder, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. It's unknown why he chose the name 'Lotus' for his car company. The green background is British Racing Green, the color of British cars in his day. The yellow background symbolizes the sunny days Mr. Chapman hoped lay ahead for his company.
Maserati Logo
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
The Mitsubishi logo is an integration of two family logos, and originally represented three water chestnuts. It's derived from the three-layer chestnut family crest of Yataro Iwasaki, founder of Tsukumo Shokai, and the three-leaved oak family crest of the Yamanouchi family, from the Tosa Clan. As for the name, it literally means 'three water chestnuts' - Mitsu means three, and Hishi is the word for water chestnut (when there's an 'h' in the middle of a Japanese word, it's often pronounced as a 'b'). You can read the official Mitsubishi explation here.
Morgan Motor Company logo
The origin of the Morgan Motor Company's logo is uncertain, though the wings may be inspired by a flying ace of the First World War, Captain Ball, who said that to drive a Morgan three-wheeler as the nearest thing to flying on the ground. If you know more about this log, please email us!
Opel cars logo
Interesting, the modern day Opel logo originally featured a slylized dirigible airship inside the 'O', representing German engineering expertise (this was from 1937 to 1947). It since evolved, into a stlized airplane from 1954 to 1964, and then to today's lightning bolt in 1964.
Pagani Automobili logo
The origin of the Pagani logo is uncertain; if you know anything about this please email us.
Panoz logo
The Panoz logo was designed by company founder Daniel Panoz. The red, white, and blue colors represent the fact that Panoz is an American company, while the swirls are a tribute to the integration of balance and symmetry represented by the Yin-Yang symbol. The shamrock in the middle reflects the company's, and the founder's, Irish roots.
Peugeot logo
One of the earliest Puegeot models was built in the city of Belfort, whose emblem was the lion. The car was thus known as a Lion-Peugeot, and adopted the Belfort city emblem.
Pontiac logo
The Pontiac logo represents an arrowhead. This logo was introduced in 1958, replacing the Indian Chief head silhouette emblem used since 1928.
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.
Renault logo
The Renault diamond logo was first used in 1924 (it was previously circular), and had a very functional purpose originally - the center of the badge was cut out to allow sound from the horn, positioned directly behind, to escape.
Rover Cars logo
The Rover logo represents a Viking ship, a link between the meaning of 'Rover' (to wander about) and the Vikings, which did very much the same thing albeit via the oceans rather than land.
Saab logo
The Saab logo shown here, introduced in 2000, is an evolution of the design introduced in 1987 (the company used only a text logo until then). Designed by artist Carl Fredik Reutersward, the original logo depicted a mythological beast Gripen (a griffen). The Gripen head is derived from the coat of arms of Count von Skane, which was used as the symbol for the Swedish province of Skane, where Saab was formed.
Scion logo
The history of the Scion logo is uncertain, though there's an apparent 'S' cutting verticall through the center of the logo.
Seat logo
The history of the Seat logo is uncertain, though it's obviously meant to represent an 'S'.
Skoda logo
The Skoda logo is a winged arrow, but has no apparent significance (other than to give the impression of speed).
Smart car logo
Apart from the Smart name (all lowercase), the Smart logo features a 'C' for 'Compact', and an arrow for 'forward thinking'.
Spyker cars logo
After building aircraft engines for WWI, Spyker introduced a variant of the logo shown here as it returned to building cars; the logo features a spoke wheel with a horizontal propeller across.
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 stars in the constellation of Taurus (we refer to them as the Pleiades, a cluster that conatins a large number stars, 14 of which are visible to the naked eye under optimal conditions). Why six stars in the logo? The five smaller stars represent the five companies that merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries (parent of Subaru) in 1953, while the sixth star represents the larger unified company.
Tesla Motors logo
The origin of the Tesla Motors logo is uncertain, though appears to be a cross between the letter 'T' and perhaps the shape of a Tesla coil, Nikola Tesla's most well-known invention.
Toyota logo

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 (though the name Toyota was chosen as it was the founder's name, not for its literal meaning). In some Asian cultures, those blessed with an abundance of rice are believe to be blessed with great wealth.

Vauxhall logo
The Vauxhall emblem features a Griffen (a lion with an eagle's head), from Fulk le Breant's coat of arms (though note that many believed it to be a Wyvern, but a close exaimination of their logos through history showed a bushy tail and thus it must be a Griffen). Mr. le Breant was a mercenary employed by King John in the 13th century; granted nobility status as a reward for his service, and the land he acquired became known as Fulks Hall. Over time, the name of the land changed, first to Foxhall, then Vaux Hall, and eventually just Vauxhall.
Vector Aeromotive logo
The history of the Vector Aeromotive Corporation logo is uncertain, though appears to be an inverted 'V'.
Venturi logo
The modern day Venturi logo was chosen in 1989, and represents a gerfalcon (the world's fastest animal, clocked in excess of 280km/hr in a vertical dive), set on a glove, which symbolizes mastery. Above the gerfalcon is the sun of the region Loire. The oval is a remnan of the original logo. The 'V' shape is in tribute to the region of France, "Pays de Loire", as the 'V' represents a shield bearing its coat of arms.
Volkswagen logo
The Volkswagen logo is simple, but the name has an interesting meaning - in German, it translates as the "Peoples' Car".
Volvo logo
Volvo means 'I Roll' in Latin, and the circle/arrow logo is the conventional map sysmbol for steel (which for a long time was Sweden's most famous industry). That circle/arrow symbol isn't arbitray, it represents the shield and spear of Mars, also the alchemical symbol for iron.