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The Most Interesting Histories Behind Car Logos

Cars are a very intimate part of our daily lives. Everyone remembers their first car and there’s always some story behind how you became a car owner. A lot of us even go as far as name our vehicles, making them more like family members we create memories with.

While it’s true that car owners have unique personal histories with the vehicles they love, there is more to the story. A car can be desirable for many reasons, from its great gas mileage down to its luxurious design. However, one of a car’s most unique and insightful features is its logo.

Just the sight of a car logo inspires certain reactions based on what one knows about the brand as every manufacturer hopes to tell a story. However, upon taking a further look, car logos are much more than symbols to be known by. Often, there are very interesting stories about where a car’s logo comes from and how it’s developed over the years.

We’re going to look at some of the histories behind car logos of some of the world’s most popular automobile brands. By the time you’re done, you’ll know a little bit more about familiar car logos and maybe even about the car you drive every day.

Ford

If you know anything about Ford cars, then you’re sure to know the name comes from its founder, Henry Ford.

However, one of the most interesting facts is that the Ford Company we’ve all come to recognize was his third attempt at making a car company. The logo originally began as “Ford Motor Co. Detroit, Mich” before a series of investments helped the company from failing.

One of the most notable features of the logo is the cursive “Ford” which was taken from a business card designed by Childe Harlow Willis, the first chief engineer, and designer. The blue oval was added in 1927 and hasn’t changed much since then.

Audi

Getting into the car business in the early 1900s was a wild-wild west filled with failures and business partner betrayals.

The story of AUDI is no different as founder August Horsch worked for Karl Benz (Mercedes-Benz), was forced out of his first company A. Horsch & Cie, and eventually founded the Horsch brand. Despite it bearing his name, which in German means “hark” or “listen,” his former company would not allow him to keep this name.

He couldn’t find a new name until his son who was studying Latin interrupted a business meeting to tell him to use “Audi,” which is the Latin form of Horsch. Audi joined with three other carmakers to form Auto-Union which is resembled in the logo’s four linked rings. However, Auto-Union didn’t become Audi until 1985.

Cadillac

Cadillac, a brand which has become known more for style and luxury, was born out of the ashes of Henry Ford Company and has a rather complicated history.

The first logo included the family crest of Antoine de la Mothe, Sir of Cadillac, who was a founder of the region which would become modern-day Detroit. What was meant to be inspired by royalty and history turned out to be controversial when it was discovered that la Mothe was never royalty and that he had most likely fled France under legal circumstances.

It wasn’t until 1998 when Cadillac designed a new logo to clean up its image. The version we’ve come to know removed much of the elements of la Mothe’s “family crest.”

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi’s popular car logo has a history which dates back to 1854 during feudal Japan.

A man named Yataro Iwasaki who went to work for the Tosa Clan in 1868 acquired their shipping business called Tsukumo Shokai. He renamed it Mitsubishi in 1873, but it wasn’t until four generations later when his descendent Kayota Iwasaki turned the company into a corporate group, which included the addition of Mitsubishi Motors.

The Mitsubishi logo is a combination of the Iwasaki family logo which includes three stacked rhombuses and the three-leaves Tosa Clan crest. Additionally, the company’s name literary describes its logo as it translates to three (mitsu) diamonds (hishi).

The More You Know, the More You Logo

It’s clear that car logo histories have some fascinating backstories. Some car logos are designed with family honor, while others would rather keep their legacies hidden. No matter the logo legacy, you’re sure to impress your friends by educating them on their cars