While most people are fascinated by cars, very few actually know the history behind the logos that these cars sport.
Logos not only serve as unique visual marks of identity, but also help companies gain product recognition in the world market. Commonly, there are three types of car logos — symbol logo, text logo, and combination logo.
In symbol logos, special designs or symbols are used to represent the brand — like Citroen, Mercedes, Mitsu-bishi, Peugeot, Renault, Porsche, etc.
In text logos, the initials or the names of the companies are written in a particular style — Fiat, Mazda, Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
Combination logo is a blend of symbols and texts as in Alfa Romeo, Skoda, Lamborghini, BMW, et cetera.
Here are some interesting facts about 14 such logos
Mercedes Benz: The three-pointed star logo of Mercedes represents the company’s domination on land, sea, and air.
Emil Jellinek, an Austrian businessman and an auto enthusiast had a daughter named Mercedes. Jellinek not only sold DMG cars he also participated in the first-ever motor race in Germany. He drove vehicles made by Daimler-Motored-Gesellschaft, under his pseudonym Mercedes.
Earlier, the name referred only to the team and driver. Today’s Mercedes is a result of the merger of two auto firms, Daimler-Motored-Gesellschaft or DMG, founded by Gottlieb Daimler with Wilhelm Maybach, and Benz & Cie, founded by Karl Benz.
Audi: A German engineer named August Horch founded the company A. Horch & Cie in 1899.
A decade later, he was forced out of his own company. He, along with his business partner Franz Fikentscher started the new company.
While they were discussing about the name of the new company, Fikentscher’s son, who was studying Latin in a corner of the room, asked them “audiatur et altera pars” means (wouldn’t it be a good idea to call it Audi instead of Horch?)
The word “Horch” stands for “hark” in German, which means listen and Audi is Latin word for listen. Later in 1932, Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer merged to form Auto Union and the four ringed logo of Audi came into being that proudly graces Audi’s bonnet till date.
BMW: Another interesting logo is that of BMW. It represents a spinning white propeller blade against the blue sky.
BMW was a major supplier of airplane engines and aero planes like the Red Baron to the German government during the time of World War 1.
In 1918, when the World War ended, the German government stopped taking airplanes from BMW.
BMW had no option but to change its business. The company started making railway brakes before making motorized bicycle, motorcycles and cars.
Chevrolet: Even the “bowtie” of Chevrolet, which is creating waves in the country with its latest products, has something to say.
There are actually two stories regarding Chevrolet’s logo.
The first one says that founder William C. Durant was inspired by the wallpaper in a French hotel and tore a piece of it to design a logo.
But his wife has a different version. It says that the bowtie emblem came from a Virginia newspaper, while they were vacationing in Hot Springs, Virginia around 1912.
Ferrari: The coveted Italian car maker Ferrari’s prancing horse Cavallino Rampante was originally the emblem of Italian WWII flying ace Fancesco Baracca.
When Enzo Ferrari started his own car company, he continued the use of this logo having been earlier persuaded by Baracca’s parents to use the symbol of their late son for his Alfa Romeo race cars.
Well, the Cavallino Rampante has defiantly graced more than just Ferrari vehicles. Today, it can be found pasted on bikes, T-shirts and almost everywhere one can imagine!
Fiat: In 1899, the “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino” company was founded in Turin, and a special poster was created to celebrate the event.
The artist included a small parchment containing the company name and this became the first Fiat logo. The logo had undergone gone a series of modifications since then.
The brand’s 100th anniversary in 1999 saw the birth of a chrome-plated logo, with the characteristic A, and a more stylized laurel wreath in a blue background.The new Fiat logo was first used on the Bravo, in 2006.
Ford: The logo of American car maker Ford is simple and the font is its highlight. It has been in regular use for more than 50 years.
This font was used by Harold Wills, who was a close associate of Henry Ford. As a teen, Wills used to print business cards to make money.
When his friend Henry Ford needed a logo for his company, Wills pulled out his old printing set and used a font that he had used for printing cards as a teen.
In 1912 the oval shape was added and the blue color came in 1927. This last logo is the blue oval that Ford released in 2003 in honor of the 100 years Ford Motor Company.
Lamborghini: Some car logos reflect the taste of its master like the raging bull in Lamborghini.
The founder of the company Ferrucio Lamborghini adored bull fighting and chose it as the logo for his car company.
Many Lamborghini cars are named after either a breed of fighting bull or a particular bull.
The variety of logos is quite striking and stretches from animal shapes to Viking ships to diamonds.
Renault :The company was set up by Louis Renault when he was 21 and the company’s first logo featured three initials of the Renault brothers: Louis, Ferdinand and Marcel.
The company also had a military tank logo after its Renault FT-17 light tanks became a rage during World War I.
The diamond shape was introduced in 1925 and redesigned in 1972 by famous optional art designer Victor Vasarely. Today the logo is surrounded by a Yellow square – a symbol of quality.
Skoda: The winged arrow of Skoda was first used in 1926 and it apparently stands for speed.
The colors too have a story to say; the black stands for the car maker’s history while the green for their environment friendliness.
Just like most other car manufacturers Skoda also dates back to the early 1890s where the company started out manufacturing bicycles.
But post the World War II and the Velvet Revolution Skoda became a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group in 1991.
Volkswagen: Volkswagen possesses one of the most simple and quickly recognizable logos in the world. The logo is a “V” over a “W” in a blue background, surrounded by a circle. Volkswagen means “people’s car” in German language.
The logo was the result of an office competition of which the winner was Franz Reimspiess.
The origin of the company dates back to 1930s Nazi Germany. It was Hitler’s idea to start manufacturing an affordable car for the people. It was Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche, who came up with the idea of Volkswagen Beetle that could carry two adults and three children.
But the factory to manufacture Beetle was used to produce more of military vehicles than public cars, which was as per Hitler’s original intentions. Post Germany’s defeat in the war the British took over the Volkswagen factory and tried to sell it.
But everyone refused blaming Beetles design, which was considered inferior. However, the Volkswagen Beetle went on to become one of the world’s best selling cars.
Volvo: The name Volvo means “I roll” in Latin and is derived from the Latin word “volvere” which means “to roll.”
The logo for Volvo is an ancient symbol of Iron, which is a circle with an arrow pointed diagonally upwards to the right.
This symbol also represents “Mars, the God of War.” Volvo cars are also traditionally known for the safety features.
The iron symbol was used to also reflect the strong tradition of the Swedish Iron Industry. The name of the car also runs across the logo against a
blue background. In 1999 the brand “Volvo” was bought by Ford.
Hyundai: This South Korean company’s slogan is “Drive your way.”
The Hyundai logo looks like an oval shaped “H” depicting the company’s desire to expand globally.
The slanted and stylized “H” is also symbolic for two people like the company and customer shaking hands.
Toyota: From a distance the logo of Toyota looks like a T meaning Toyota.
But the logo consists of three ovals: the two perpendicular centre ovals represent a relationship of mutual trust between the customer and Toyota. The background space implies the ever-expanding technological advancements and boundless opportunities that lie ahead for the company.