Meanings Behind Famous Car Logos

Abarth
Abarth
Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo

History of Logo Design

Cars are the universal status symbol and just as many car manufacturers have interesting histories behind their names, many company logo’s quite often have unusual stories too. Sometimes it may be the town of manufacture or a previous incarnation that inspires the design, on other occasions it’s the strange viewpoint on the world taken by a particular designer that creates an iconic image.

Alfa Romeo

Made in Milan and use the city’s coat of arms, which feature a red cross on a white field and a serpent eating a man and evolved during the crusades.

Abarth

The Italian car manufacturer, who in 1971 were incorporated into Fiat. The founder Carlo Abarth was born on the 15th November 1908, which made his astrological, sign scorpio. Hence the badge, it also incorporates the colours of the Italian flag and the red and yellow of the racing world.

Audi
Audi
Bentley
Bentley
BMW
BMW
Buick
Buick

Audi

Comprises four interlinked rings which represent the four companies that in 1932 combined to form the Audi name. Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer

Bentley

The British manufacturer started out building aircraft engines during World War One and so naturally used stylised wings as part of its logo.

BMW

The Bavarian company uses the colours of the Bavarian flag and its circle with a cross comes from the fact that the early company manufactured engines for aeroplanes during the Second World War and the logo is representative of a propeller.

Buick

Their logo is made up of three shields that represent the three initial marques that Buick originally manufactured. The Le Sabre, Invicta and the Electra.

Cadillac
Cadillac
Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Citroen
Citroen
Ferrari
Ferrari

Cadillac

The company was named after a famous French explorer who discovered Detroit, the logo is based around Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac’s coat of arms.

Chevrolet

The famous Chevy bowtie has two conflicting stories attached to it, founder William C. Durant maintained it came from a wallpaper design in a French hotel he once stayed, while his wife said that he saw it in a newspaper whilst on holiday in Virginia in 1912.

Citroen

The inverted chevrons on the Citroen logo were from an earlier company that founder Andre Citroen ran that manufactured gears for engines. The double << were meant to represent the interlocking teeth of gear cogs.

Ferrari

The Italian World War One flying ace, Count Francesco Baracca, first used the internationally renowned prancing horse on the side of his aircraft and was symbolic of the Calvary Regiment with whom he served. In 1923 the Counts mother persuaded Enzo Ferrari to use it on his racing cars for luck. The yellow background on which the horse dances is representative of the town of Modena where Ferrari grew up.

Maserati
Maserati
Mercedes
Mercedes
Peugeot
Peugeot
Pontiac
Pontiac

Maserati

The Maserati logo is another marque that takes its design from the town of its manufacture, Bologna, Italy. The trident is part of a well-known sculpture in the centre of town. 

Mercedes

The tri-star was came from a doodle that Grottlieb Daimler drew on a postcard he send his children from Cologne, showing them where he was staying. When the Daimler and Benz companies merged in the 1920’s the wreath from the Benz logo and the Daimler tri-star were joined too.

Peugeot

Again derived from the town where the brand was first manufactured, in Peugeots case it was Belfort. Bartholdi whose other famous icon was the Statue of Liberty conceived the logo. 

Pontiac

The original logo used on the Pontiac brand until 1956 was a native American in full headdress meant to represent Chief Pontiac who led an unsuccessful revolt against the British. On later models a stylised arrow was used, harkening back again to the Indian Chief who inspired the company’s name.

Porsche
Porsche
Renault
Renault
SAAB
SAAB
Vauxhall
Vauxhall

Porsche

Porsche were founded in 1931 in Stuttgart and created a logo that closely resembles that of the town.

Renault

The French companies diamond logo came from a design feature on the bonnet of their early cars. A boss that was originally fitted to surrounded the hole through which air escaped when the horn was pressed. 

SAAB

The SAAB logo, a mythical birds head is from the coat of arms of the company’s founder Count Von Skane and the Swedish province of Skane where the company was formed.

Vauxhall

The company took its name from the Faulk Le Breant’s family house, a fourteenth century mercenary of employed by King John. Le Breant’s emblem features a griffin and along with Faux Hall, Manor House in Luton, the nearby car company took its name and badge.

Other Hubs in the Series

History behind 10 Famous Car Manufactures Names

VW Camper History - How the Iconic vehicle came to be

Top 10 Songs Featuring Cars - Is yours in there?


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Comments 19 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for a very informative hub.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Really interesting, thanks for this


Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 6 years ago from USA

Very interesting hub and thanks for sharing this info with us. I always wondered what those car logos stood for now I know thanks to you...I shall share this info with the car buffs in my family... :o)


Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

What a terrific Hub.

I'm fascinated at the origins of the logos. A mixture of the prosaic, the idiosyncratic and the historic. Some are very similar to heraldic shields or family crests.

Porsche is my favourite although I think Mercedes is the most elegant in its simplicity.

I'll be a pub bore this weekend with my new found knowledge. :-)

Cheers knell


knell63 profile image

knell63 6 years ago from Umbria, Italy Author

Cheers Shinkicker, am loving the pub bore line, sounds like the story to my life. I really like the Abarth logo for presence but beautiful simplicity and style has to go to the Mercedes logo it's a classic.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

Very interesting........... I'm going to book mark this to send my son; He will love it!

Me, the Alpha Romeo made me a bit nostalgic....... my third car, pre-children, and it was a little beauty! Thanks for the memory~ Kaie


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

I loved reading this....great fun information that I will rehearse in case I am ever in a trivia game and need to know this. Also, fascinated with cars and have wondered about some of them.

Thanks for this.


anu 5 years ago

Really good but please provide for remain

tx...


Mico 5 years ago

I like the logo design of BMW the best. It is attractive and bold.http://www.micocrane.com


jtrader profile image

jtrader 5 years ago

I've always wondered about that Audi symbol. Informative hub!


TotalHealth profile image

TotalHealth 4 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

I was often curious about the origins of various car logos. Thanks for the history lesson!


rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

Awesome information and research!!


knell63 profile image

knell63 4 years ago from Umbria, Italy Author

Thanks all, always nice to receive positive comments. I've always intregued by the obscure and just glad that you all have enjoyed the piece.


Marble Sweets profile image

Marble Sweets 4 years ago

Going to tweet this because these car logos are impressive and grand!! Except my tweet will say "History of Design behind Famous Auto Logos" with your link. Porsche and Maserati are the best :)


Georgie 4 years ago

It's awesome to know all the different car types


sayantani 4 years ago

true..the mercedes logo is a classic and so is the audi logo..so simple yet attractive. its like the first ring that symbolises the 'audi" holds the rest four-dkw,horch and wanderer :)


knell63 profile image

knell63 4 years ago from Umbria, Italy Author

Thanks guys, I agree sayantani the Merc and audi logos a classic in their simplicity, my favourite is the Abath though, its just so stricking.


Blvn Laxman 2 years ago

thx dude


TolovajWordsmith profile image

TolovajWordsmith 20 months ago from Ljubljana

Every logo should tell a story and if it's a bit controversial, the brand can only profit. I knew several of presented stories, but others very new. Thanks!

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