What's in an Emblem? The Story Behind 5 Well-Known Car Logos

Posted by: Lydia on 14/01/2020

Category: General


Cars are not only modes of transport—they're style icons. Since the beginning, they've been seen as personal statements and status symbols just as much as they've been a way to get around. Someone driving a Toyota Supra is likely to appreciate its circuit racing history, just as odds are that the driver of a Subaru WRX will adore all things rallying. Or that a Ferrari driver will love the legendary Formula One history of their vehicle.

But before these iconic autos could build a connection with their customer base, the vehicles had to be designed. And at the center of every great vehicle's bold identity is its logo—a symbol that tells of the story of the team who made the vehicle and the feeling it seeks to offer anyone who gets behind the wheel and turns the key. The stories of car logos are always fascinating, so read on for the origin of five of the auto world’s most well-known.

1. Toyota

As one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, Toyota is sure to have one of most recognizable logos to Aussies on their daily drives. Despite selling over 10 million vehicles globally in 2019 alone, few people know the story behind its logo and that the current version is actually a redesign first created in 1989. When updating the old version, the Japanese auto team decided to combine the letter T with the now-iconic ovals to symbolise a steering wheel, and the third oval to symbolise the roundness of the globe and the company’s ambition to be present all around it. 

2. Subaru

Speaking of planets, the inspiration behind Subaru’s logo is truly out of this world. Subaru in the Japanese language is the name of a star cluster within the famous Taurus constellation. The company name thus informed the design of the logo: the large star in the logo represents Fuji Heavy Industries, while the five smaller stars represent the companies that merged into FHI. 

3. Jaguar

Jaguar initially began trading in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company, but by 1935, the Jaguar name also started being featured in this manufacturer's branding. Soon after, the former name was dropped in favour of the latter. While various definitions and terms have been used over the years, the common link throughout has been the manufacturer's desire for its cars to be like the animal they’re named after: beautiful, agile, and powerful. For anyone who has ever had the pleasure of driving a Jag, it’s safe to say its founders delivered on this ambitious goal. 

4. Ferrari

Ferrari has carved out an incredible place in racing history. It's little surprise that its logo was inspired by a daredevil of years gone by. According to legend, Enzo Ferrari chose the prancing horse as the logo for his car company because World War 1 fighter pilot Count Francesco Barraca used this emblem on his aeroplanes. Barraca likely never imagined over 100 years ago that his design would go on to be among the most famous symbols in the history of not only cars but machines as a whole. 

5. Maserati

Another Italian brand with a keen sense of history is Maserati. Its beautiful trident logo was inspired by the legend of the Roman god Neptune and his love of using a three-pronged weapon. In addition to Neptune, the Maserati logo also combines a more modern influence symbolising the three Maserati brothers (Alfieri, Ettore, and Ernesto) who started the business back in 1914.

A new era for logos

These vehicle logos and the stories behind them have an important place in the car universe—one that is firmly established and will always be a key part of our day-to-day love of cars. On the other hand, we're seeing interesting shifts when it comes to car logos and names in an era where new, unexpected players are entering the auto industry.

For example, rumours persist surrounding the possibility of Apple’s entry into the auto industry. For a business that has built its brand upon sleek, minimalist design, it’s likely that any car released via the Californian tech company will feature a distinctive but simple logo—maybe even without a name on the body. Either way, the idea of an Apple car joining other new manufacturers like Tesla shows that new car companies are shifting away from vehicle names that evoke strong animals, constellations in the night sky, and other natural phenomena that served to entice and inspire throughout the last century.

Elsewhere in the tech world, Google’s self-driving car is currently called the Waymo. Whether this name sticks or is ultimately swapped out, it shows that the launch of new electric and self-driving cars in future will likely see a shift towards more quirky and intriguing names. Right now this may be hard to imagine if you’ve spent your life longing to own a Mustang or a Cobra, but in the near future you may find your heart skips a beat anytime you see a Waymo cruising down the street. 

The legend behind the logo 

Although the famous logos featured here are iconic in their own right, they also convey the strong foundations each of these car manufacturers has built within the industry and automobile history. There have certainly been numerous manufacturers throughout the years who have also had great logos, but when it became clear that the car they adorned wasn’t so great, they quickly faded into history. Manufacturers like Subaru and Ferrari have staying power because of the fantastic vehicles that bear their logo.

That’s why anyone inspired by the story of these logos and looking to secure their own piece of car history can rest assured that buying a vehicle from one of these manufacturers as your next car is sure to deliver you tons of fun. Each of these manufacturers has a truly outstanding collection of brilliant automobiles in their collection. Find one you like for your next vehicle, and you’ll be sure to find yourself smiling every time you catch sight of its logo. 

What other car logos do you know have great stories behind them? Let us know in the comments below. 

Image: Pixabay