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There is probably no industry where an impressive, memorable, slick logo is more important than the automobile one, as the logo takes the center spot of the car, usually with nothing else engraved on the front. Therefore car company logos are some of the most recognizable pieces of brand identity on the planet, and just a quick glance at some of them is enough for a stance on it to be made. Powerful, exotic, fast, elegant, just one second after seeing it and you know a lot about the machine underneath, or at least you think you know a lot about it.
In a lack of a better word, some car company logos look really cool, and these 10 have some interesting backstories or meanings behind them, so fasten your seatbelt.
It seems that not one aspect of the Ferrari company may be slightly cool, it needs to be setting the standard, and that’s the way with the company’s logo as well. Founder of the Italian powerhouse Enzo Ferrari was visiting the parents of a heroic World War I airman Francesco Barraca in 1923, and he used to have a prancing black horse painted on his airplane. So Baracca’s mother, countess Paulina told Enzo to put her son’s horse on his cars, as it will bring him good luck. Enzo simply added the canary yellow background, as it is the color of Modena, the town from which he is from.
Photo: ROBERTO SCHMIDT(Getty Images)
The famous ram started off as a hood ornament for various Dodge models in the 1970s, but the story of its origins dates way back even more. The company got its name after the founding brothers’ last name, not much wisdom there, but it ties in really great. In the late ’20s Avard T. Fairbanks designed the ram radiator cap, and when Walter P. Chrysler was skeptical of the idea Fairbanks just asked him what would a person’s instinct response to seeing a ram in the wild – Dodge!
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This British car company has its roots in 1922 when it was called Swallow Sidecar Company as it built sidecars, after several years the founders switched the focus to building actual cars who had the abbreviation SS on it. Since the founders split out, the one remaining in it chose the name Jaguar from a long list of dull animal names compiled by an ad agency in 1935. Since the Nazi SS squadrons became infamous throughout the world the company dropped the SS moniker and became just Jaguar. The logo is a perfect choice of pose for the animal as it showcases it’s strength, speed, ferocity, and elegance in the hunt, all traits that translate to cars well.
Photo: Marco Destefanis/Pacific Press/LightRocket (Getty Images)
Arguably the most elegant looking of all the car logos, beating easily the symbols of abundance which are Rolls Royse and Bentley, and Maserati manages does that without neglecting the sports aspect of their cars. In the beginning of the 20th century, five Maserati brothers were involved in automobile development, while the sixth one was a talented artist. He was the one who designed the company’s logo to honor their hometown of Bologna, draining inspiration from the city’s monument of Neptune who also holds a trident.
Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP (Getty Images)
Not only does Lamborghini has some of the coolest car names out there, their logo is also one of the best and has an interesting origin story that correlates to model names. An Italian magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini founded the car company in 1963 to compete with Ferrari, and as the logo of the company he chose his zodiac sign – Taurus. Ferruccio was also a passionate fan of bullfighting, that’s why the logo of Lamborghini looks like it’s ready to stab through any matador who stands in its way.
Photo: National Motor Museum/Heritage Images(Getty Images)
One of the most complex car company logos, or logos just in general, as it looks more like a soccer club’s crest than a long lasting logo. Alfa Romeo’s logo consists of a red cross, which is an emblem of its home city Milan, and a crowned viper swallowing a Moor, which is an emblem of a noble house of Visconti, rulers of the city in the 14th century. Visconti fought against the Moors and took one of their emblems, but the company states that the viper is not eating the person, rather that it is emerging from its mouth, renewed.
Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek (Getty Images)
Logo of one of the most renowned car companies in the world was formed pretty easily, in a quite logical manner. Porsche is from the city of Stuttgart, which basically means “stud farm”, and the city was once the capital of Free People’s State of Württemberg and the former Weimar Germany. Both of these entities had an identical coat of arms, which is now the basis of the Porsche’s logo, the black horse on a yellow shield is the coat of arms of Stuttgart, and the two were just blended.
Photo: Tim Graham(Getty Images)
There are no car companies that claim respect more than Mercedes and BMW, and while BMW’s logo becomes less cool when you find out about its origins, as the whole story about white quarters being propellers and the blue ones sky is a myth, Mercedes-Benz’s ones gets better. A simple, but globally recognizable design with a three-pointed star is a proclamation of Mercedes’s domination over land, sea, and air transport. A minimalistic approach in design which engulfs everything.
Photo: Ken Ishii (Getty Images)
While Mitsubishi’s logo looks very post-modern, even futuristic in its minimalism, the origin story of the company’s logo is a deeply historical one. “Mitsu” means three in Japanese, and “hishi”, which is pronounced “bishi” when combined with “mitsu”, means water chestnut. The three-diamond logo was chosen by the founder of the Mitsubishi organization, Yataro Iwasaki, as it resembles the crest of a Tosa Clan, company’s first employer, which was made of three leaves laid out like the diamonds are now. The diamonds were chosen as they are similar to the Iwasaki family’s crest – three stacked rhombuses.
Photo: LUIGI BERTELLO (Getty Images)
Probably the most modern-looking logo of any company on this list, Abarth’s black scorpion on a yellow-red coat of arms shield looks like something a sci-fi movie resistance fighter organization would use. Founder Karl Alberto Abarth went the same route as the founder of Lamborghini, as he picked the scorpion because that is his Zodiac sign, but also because he wanted to ensure nobody will copy him as he considered it an ugly creature. Abarth was a big patriot, that’s why we see the subtle colors of Italian flag underneath his name.
What are some of your favorite car company logos?