Ten Car logos and their origins

From Ford’s scripted oval to Volkswagen’s Germanic simplicity, from Ferrari’s swaggering black stallion to Volvo manliness, car logos aim to communicate unique brand credentials of the manufacturer, the car and indeed the driver. But what of the stories that lie behind logos? VCARS.co.uk’s Paul Reaney dug a little deeper and unearthed a few things you might not know about the logo on the front of your car.

Ford’s Blue Oval

Truly ubiquitous, a mainstay of modern logo design, the famous ford blue oval effortlessly balances modernity against heritage. The original badge was designed by an engineering colleague of Henry Ford. His assistant simply knocked up a stylised version the words ‘Ford Motor Company’. After experimenting with a winged triangle, in the mid-twenties the blue oval appeared. Ford’s Model A was the first car to carry the iconic logo. Apart from a brief flirtation with a squat diamond in the mid-seventies, the current logo continues to this day.

History of Ford logos


VW’s Iconic Circle

The famous VW logo was designed by Franz Reimspiess, the winner of an office-wide competition to come up with a new logo. Reimspiess was also the man who designed the engine for the Beetle. Interestingly, the original VW vehicles were inspired by a 1933 meeting between Hitler and Porsche. Hitler wanted an affordable car capable of transporting two adults and three children at a max speed of 62 mph (100kmh). After WW2, the British took control of VW and got rid of the German flourishes on the outer of the logo, stripping it back and simplifying to the third logo here – a forerunner of today’s more corporate look.

History of VW logos


Mazda’s Winged Chariot

Upon direction from the company’s founder Jujiro Matsuda, Mazda’s name derives from Ahura Mazda, the Avestan name for a divinity exalted by the ancient Iranian prophet Zoroaster – the source of wisdom, intelligence and harmony! The current logo, designed in 1997, shows a pair of wings in flight. As well as communicating creativity, vitality and flexibility, it purports to show Mazda is ready to take flight.

History of Mazda logos


Renault Brotherly Love

Founded in 1989 by Louis, Marcel and Ferdinand Renault, the company were originally famous for their taxis (before building aeroplanes and tanks in WWI). The first logo was supposedly designed to capture the initials of all three brothers (can you see the F?) and updated during WW1 to include a tank. The now famous diamond was included in 1925 and yellow (symbolising joy, prosperity and optimism) in 1946. 

History of Renault logos


Ferrari’s Horse Play

Enzo Ferrari was inspired by the horse painted on the aeroplane of Italy’s heroic WWI airman Francesco Baracca. Ferrari has confessed: “In 1923, I met count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me: Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck.” The black horse has become, perhaps, the most iconic image in the automotive industry. Did You Know, yellow was added as it is the colour of Modena – home to Ferrari’s factory?

History of Ferrari logos


Audi’s Rings

Now part of the VW family, Audi was born in 1899 from the drive of German August Horch. Horch left Horch & Cie, set up AutomobilWerke Horch Zwickau GmbH. Due to legal wranglings over the similarity of the name, he launched a new company Audi which is a Latin translation of Horch, meaning ‘listen’. Horch and Audi were joined by DKW and Wanderer and merged to form Auto Union AG. The interlocking rings symbolising the four brands.

History of Audi logos


Fiat Bendy A

Fiat have been Italy’s household auto name since 1899 and the country’s industrialization. The logo’s most striking component is the semi-bent upper case A, appearing for the first time in 1901. Fiat’s logo has been perhaps the most changed, tampered with and ‘updated’ of any of the main car brands. The most recent logotype appeared in 2006, re-introducing red to the logo for the first time since 1959.

History of Fiat logos


Toyota’s Floating T

With a mission statement ‘create and develop advanced technologies and provide outstanding products and services that fulfil the needs of customers worldwide’, this logo has its work cut out. The current logo, three ellipses which co-join to create a T, is relatively simple while communicating quickly and effortlessly a harmony and creativity. The original logo, dating back to 1936 was designed to communicate speed and the result of another of those office-wide competitions. Today, Toyota explains their logo thus:

The two perpendicular centre ovals represent a relationship of mutual trust between the customer and Toyota.  These ovals combine to symbolize the letter “T” for Toyota.  The space in the background implies a global expansion of Toyota’s technology and unlimited potential for the future.

History of Toyota logos



Founded in 1927 in Gothenburg from a company that used to make ball bearings, the Volvo name is derived from ‘I roll’ in Latin. The currently logo is the ancient symbol for Iron (circle with an arrow pointed diagonally right and up), as well as begin the symbol for Man. Grrrrr…

History of Volvo logos


Mercedes Benz

In wonderfully Germanic style, the three-pointed star represents domination of the land, sea, and air! It was designed by Gottlieb Daimler in 1909 and combined with the Benz laurel wreath in 1926 when the two partnered up. The ring joined in 1937.

History of Mercedes logos

Ferrari Testa Rossa set to make history

Used Ferrari dealers could be set to see an increased demand for Ferraris as the hype surrounding the auction of one of the marque’s most legendary vehicles is set to reach fever pitch over the coming months.

The iconic 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa is expected to set a new world record when it goes up for auction on May 17th this year.

The event, in association with Sotheby’s, will take place in Maranello, Italy, home of the celebrated car manufacturer.

Used Ferrari dealers will hope that the excitement surrounding the sale of the vehicle will also generate plenty of interest in the company’s other vehicles, many of which are available well below the £6 million expected to exchange hands when the Testa Rossa is auctioned off.

"This legendary 250 Testa Rossa is one of the most exciting motor cars ever to be presented in auction history," said Max Girardo, managing director of RM Auctions Europe, which will be in charge of the event.

The current world record for a vintage car sold at auction is held by a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder, sold at last year’s Maranello event, which sold for almost £5.6 million.

Written by Roxy Moran

A Definitive History of Ferrari – Part 1

Ferrari 250 Europa GT

The Early Years 1940 – 1960

The Prancing Horse badge is instantly recognisable to every man and boy in the country. From the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 of 1940 to the current 599 GTB, the racing red body and the sound of the engine note, Enzo’s legacy laid out for all to see. Dedicated to producing race winning cars, old man Ferrari detested the people who drove his cars as a status symbol, only selling them to the public out of necessity to fund Ferraris conquest of motor races across the globe.
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Get ready for the new Ferrari California

Excitement is mounting about the unveiling of the new Ferrari California.

This great spectacle will happen at the Paris Auto Show in October when the public will finally get a chance to see the stunning coupe-cabriolet in all its glory.

The Paris Show will also give Ferrari fans a chance to experience the company’s one-to-one personalisation programme, which debuted last March.

Currently, 599 GTB Fiorano clients are able to visit the dedicated Atelier in Maranello to create their own truly bespoke car from a vast range of special content all with the expert assistance of specially-trained Ferrari consultants.

The Atelier is being recreated by Ferrari at its Paris stand affording clients the opportunity to work out every last detail of their 599 GTB Fiorano on the basis of their own personal needs and tastes.

Ferrari is keen to stress that none of the various personalisation options on offer will compromise the car’s active or passive safety systems.

Written by Charlie-George Michael

Schumacher helping to shape the new Ferrari California

Racing legend Michael Schumacher is on the last lap of helping to test the Ferrari California – the new eight-cylinder model which is due to take its place on the starting grid at the Paris International Motor Show on October 2nd this year.

The seven times Formula 1 world champion has been on-board the team developing the latest Prancing Horse road car since its inception and has worked closely with Ferrari’s team of engineers, technicians and test-drivers on optimising its performance parameters.

He seems to have, as always, done a good job – the car can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in under four seconds.

The German sporting icon described the project as "really fascinating and great fun".

He said: "The Ferrari California is designed for everyday use and for weekends away whilst still guaranteeing all of the emotional impact that only an authentic Ferrari can deliver.

"With its usability and high level of interior comfort, it is still surprisingly sporty and fun to drive under any kind of conditions."

A Ferrari jigsaw

Ferrari will launch their new California model at the Paris Motor Show in October 2008.

In order to prevent ‘spoilers’ leaking details to the [p]Press, details of the new vehicle will be released on a dedicated website – ferraricalifornia.com – in stages, to tantalise the public further.

The initial detail was a recording of the sound of the revving eight-cylinder engine, and now three photographs have appeared on the website too.

The next feature to be revealed will be photographs of the cabin.

The website has already received 60,000 hits from worldwide Ferrari enthusiasts and the autumn launch of the ‘prancing horse’ GT is an eagerly awaited event.