1. Alfa Romeo
The Alfa Romeo logo is arguably the best badge in the automotive business. It’s elegant, sleek and filled with mystery. Until now, that is…
You see, the red cross on the left is the symbol of Milan, while on the right, you’ll see a dragon/snake eating a man. The meaning behind that is quite convoluted, so here’s the ‘simple’ explanation: an important guy in Milan called Otone Visconti fought against a Saracen knight and killed him. He then took the symbols on the Saracen’s shield back to Milan, which is why it’s made its way onto the Alfa badge.
While it looks like the snake/dragon is eating a man, the official line from Alfa is that the man is actually emerging from the beast’s mouth, a purified, new man.
The more you know…
Audi’s logo is simple and clean; no snakes, no fuss. The four rings of the logo represent four car companies (Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer) that merged in 1932 to create Audi’s predecessor company, Auto Union.
3. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
The central blue and white circle is often mistakenly thought to represent a spinning aeroplane propellor. In fact, what the blue and white quadrants represent the Bavarian Free State colours - but in the opposed order - because it was illegal to use national symbols in a commercial trademark.
The reason for the aeroplane propellor connection dates back to a 1929 advert in which a picture of the front of a plane was used with BMW written at the top.
There are four theories behind the origin of the Chevrolet bowtie…
The first theory is that it originated from a wallpaper design that Chevy co-founder William C. Durant saw in a Parisian hotel. The second theory goes that Durant sketched the design at the dinner table one night between the soup and the fried chicken, while the third unproven theory is that the logo was inspired by an existing logo for Coalettes, a refined fuel product for fires.
The fourth and final theory is that the bowtie is stylised version of the cross of the Swiss flag, since Louis Chevrolet was born in Switzerland.
As described by Enzo Ferrari just once, the story behind the world’s most recognised car logo goes like this:
"The horse was painted on the fuselage of the fighter plane of Francesco Baracca - a heroic airman of the First World War. In ’23, I met count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me one day, ‘Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck’. The horse was, and still is, black, and I added the canary yellow background which is the colour of Modena."
The reason behind the iconic Lamborghini bull is that the animal is Ferruccio Lamborghini’s zodiac sign (he was born on April 28, 1916, which makes him a Taurus). He was also a fan of bull fighting, which is why the bull looks like it’s ready to ruin someone’s day.
Merc’s logo is a bold statement of intent, not some romantic ideal or a wild beast ready to mess someone up. The three-pointed star simply represents the brand’s domination of the land, the sea, and the air. How incredibly German.
The Mitsubishi logo is probably another ‘cool, I did not know that’ one for you. The origin of the logo is reflected in the company name. ‘Mitsu’ means ‘three’ in Japanese, while ‘hishi’ (pronounced ‘bishi’) means water chestnut, and is also the same word that the Japanese have long used to denote a rhombus or diamond shape.
According to Mitsubishi:
Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of the old Mitsubishi organization, chose the three-diamond mark as the emblem for his company. The mark is suggestive of the three-leaf crest of the Tosa Clan, Yataro’s first employer, and also of the three stacked rhombuses of the Iwasaki family crest.
Porsche’s logo is a clear-cut case of using the coat of arms of the Free People’s State of Württemberg (of former Weimar Germany), of which Stuttgart was the capital (where the cars are made).
The meaning behind Subaru’s logo is pretty obscure, but cool once you know. Subaru means united in Japanese and is also the name for the Pleiades star cluster (aka Seven Sisters which is one of the nearest star clusters to Earth and which is most obvious to the naked eye at night).
The reason for the cluster’s use in the Subaru logo is to represent the six companies that merged to create Fuji Heavy Industries.