Every car has an image and a logo that reflects it. Auto emblems are ingrained into our culture and memories. We all know the galloping Mustang, the spreading wings of the Firebird, and the flash of the BMW.
Often, these chrome emblems are so familiar to us that we don't stop and think about their origins. Or maybe the opposite is true, and you've been fascinated with the lore behind some of the more famous automotive emblems.
Let's take a look at the history behind some of these familiar automobile badges.
Custom Car Emblems from A to Z
Every car has a story. So do the custom car emblems emblazoned on them. Here are the creation stories and evolution of some auto emblems you know well.
We didn't include every car brand, but here are a few to satisfy your curiosity.
Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded their company in 1913. At first, they sold Singer cars but then decides to make their own car.
As time went on, the name changed from Bamford & Martin to Aston Martin Motors. Aston came from the Aston Clinton Hillclimb in Buckinghamshire, where Martin occasionally drove.
As for the logo, the wings denote speed. The lettering changed over time. It began as superimposed A and M letters in a circle.
By 1987, it evolved into the current version. The wings are straight, and the name Ashton Martin is centered. It's considered one of the most elegant emblems in the industry.
Audi's four silver rings symbolize the famous 1932 merger of Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer, who are the four oldest car manufacturers in Germany.
Together, these companies formed the Auto Union. At first, only Auto Union cars sued the emblem. The individual carmakers kept their own emblems.
In 1985, the Auto Union name went away. The Audi name remained. Audi is a Latin derivative of the founder's last name (August Horch).
It means "to hear." The emblem remained as well, and it unchanged today.
The Cadillac emblem has changed over the decades, though both the original and modern versions of its car symbols are recognizable.
The original emblem was the family name, the founder being Le Sieur Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac. The Cadillac brand incorporates elements of Monsieur Cadillac's coat of arms.
The emblem's original form was completely round with trios of merlettes (birds). It also had a medieval knight symbol reflecting the family's participation in the Crusades.
Finally, there was a black fess or black bar that also stood for service in the Crusades and a red band that stood for boldness.
In 1905, Cadillac began using the symbol on its cars. The modern version simplified as it evolved. It changed once again as recently as 2014. Gone are the laurel leaves that used to circle the crest.
No one is sure how Chevy's bowtie came to be. One story is that William C. Durant, co-founder of General Motors and Chevrolet, took inspiration from a wallpaper pattern of his French hotel room.
His wife disputed that claim and said the inspiration came from a newspaper ad for Coalettes which has the same bowtie outline.
Others have said that Louis Chevrolet designed the bowtie as a customized Swiss cross to honor of his parents and their homeland.
However it came to be, the bowtie is here to stay. It began as royal blue and is now the familiar gold.
The or Prancing Horse, or Cavallino Rampante in Italian, is the emblem of one of the most-produced performance cars in the world, the Ferrari. The story of the car symbol's creation is about as exotic as the carmaker itself.
Enzo Ferrari told the tale of his victory at the first Savio circuit, where he met Count and Countess Enrico and Paolina Baracca. Their son was an Italian fighter pilot who flew with a prancing horse emblazoned on his plane.
The son had passed, but Enzo was told the symbol would bring him luck.
The horse was worked into the emblem, along with a yellow background that represented Modena, the town where the Ferrari factory was located.
The auto emblem was used only or Ferrari's publications at first, and not on the cars. Alfa Romeo owned the cars at the time.
In 1932 Ferrari began using the shield emblem. In 1963, Ferrari also started using a relief version of the Prancing Horse. We see this version today.
The Ford Motor Company's emblem has stayed relatively the same since 1903. The blue oval was added in 1927.
The original emblem cluttered with the full "Ford Motor Co. Detroit, Mich" name against a black-and-white background. The script has stood the test of time. Ford Chief Engineer Childe Harold Wills created it in 1909.
The Hyundai emblem doesn't seem intricate, but the South Korean company put quite a bit of detail into it. The Hyundai "H" of course represents the name.
The "H" is inside of an oval to reflect perpetuity, which Hyundai strives for internationally. Finally, the "H" itself symbolizes two people shaking hands.
Back in the 1900s, Mercedes-Benz needed a trademark. At the time, they were a division of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG). DMG's founder, Gottlieb Daimler died in 1900.
His sons decided to use the star symbol on their father's home, which represented prosperity for his company into the future.
In 1909, and the famous three-pointed star and a four-pointed star became trademarked auto emblems of the brand.
Of course, the three-pointed star is the one that endured. It represents Daimler's goal of using their motors to power air, land and sea vehicles.
In 1916, the star became centered within a circle. It has undergone few changes since then. It's currently the familiar chrome emblem, or silver star within a silver circle.
The gold, red, and black Porsche crest is one of the most iconic and enduring auto emblems. It has changed only minimally since its birth in 1952 by Ferdinand Porsche.
The horse represents the city of Stuttgart, which began as a stud farm. It is now home to Porsche headquarters.
The antlers and the red-and-black stripes represent the Kingdom of W?rttemberg, which is a former state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Stuttgart is its capital.
Subaru means "The Pleiades" in Japanese. It is a reference to the star cluster in the Taurus Constellation. The Subaru badge shows only six stars.
They are Maia, Electra, Taygete, Celaeno, Asterope, and Alcyone. These are the stars visible to the naked eye.
In 1953, five companies merged as one and became known as Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. The five smaller stars signify the merged companies. The bigger sixth star signifies the bigger firm.
Most interpret the Toyota Company's emblem as an artistic rendering of the letter "T." The emblem has a specific meaning.
The ovals overlap to symbolize trust between the automaker and its customers. The white space within the chrome emblem symbolizes Toyota's future potential.
And the three ovals together symbolize the hearts of the customer, the cars themselves, and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Many More Automotive Emblems and the Stories Behind Them
We couldn't begin to document the history behind all custom car emblems. Each brand has a story behind its automobile badges.
Sometimes, the story of the automotive emblems is as fascinating as the stories behind the founders and early days of the car's production.
If you have any questions about custom car emblems, please contact us.