A logo represents and embodies the spirit of a brand, sometimes much more than the brand name itself. A good one usually evokes an emotional response by merely being seen. This is especially true for car makers, and one great example of this would be the Ferrari logo. A lot of people, automotive enthusiasts or not, become giddy at the sight of Ferrari’s prancing horse. But how did it come to be? Let’s explore the origins of the Ferrari logo, as well as those of some other popular car makers in-depth.
The prancing horse first appeared on fighter planes flown by Italian Air Force ace and World War I hero, Francesco Baracca, who died in combat in 1918. A few years after his death, his mother, Countess Paolina, met Enzo Ferrari, who at the time had just won a race. She asked the Ferrari founder to use her son’s prancing horse emblem in his cars both for good luck and as a sign of respect to the fallen pilot. Ferrari obliged, but not without making some modifications. He made the horse’s tail point up instead of down, and used a Canary yellow background to represent Modena (Ferrari’s hometown). The logo has been in use since 1929.
Contrary to popular belief, the BMW roundel logo does not in fact represent the propeller of a plane. It actually comes from the round logo of the Rapp Motorenwerke company, which evolved into what we know now as BMW. The blue and white colors come from the flag of Bavaria. So where did the plane propeller story come from? In 1929, an advertising agency used the logo in a BMW ad and depicted it as a white propeller blade spinning over a blue sky in the background. That “origin” story has stuck since then, but the logo was already around for more than a decade before the ad was ever made.
There are several stories that explain the origins of the bow tie emblem, none of which have been confirmed as 100% true. One of the stories says that the shape came from the wallpaper in a hotel room in France that William Durant, one of the company’s founders, occupied. Another one says that it was based on the logo of the “Coalettes” coal company. And finally, there are those who claim that it’s a stylized Swiss cross, used as a tribute to Chevrolet’s parents’ country of origin.
The Ford Motor Company has used several logos throughout its more than 100-year history, and practically all of them contained the now iconic Ford script. Many people believe that the script was developed in the late 1900’s by Ford’s chief engineer and designer, Childe Harold Willis. The blue oval only started to be used in the late 1920’s, and has since then become part of the official Ford logo.
The Cadillac brand was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the founder of Detroit. The crest used in the brand’s logo is based on Cadillac’s coat of arms. It’s that simple.
Founder Ferruccio Lamborghini was said to have visited the Seville ranch of Don Eduardo Miura, a well-known breeder of Spanish fighting bulls, back in 1962. He was so impressed by the majesty of the animals that he decided to use the raging bull as the emblem of the car company he would open soon after. That Lamborghini himself is a Taurus just makes the logo perfect.
And there you have it. Some really interesting stories there, right? What other car maker logo origins do you know? Share it with us, and we may just make a follow-up to this list!