Car manufacturer logos: you’ve seen them hundreds if not thousands of times but have you ever stopped to think what they mean or how they came about in the first place?

We have and trust us, they’re not all that interesting. However, here are some of the standout origins tales worth knowing about:


It’s just a circle split into equal thirds, but Merc’s three-pointed star actually symbolises the use of the company’s engines on land, sea and air.


The emblem actually predates the automobile, first appearing on a personal note written in 1872 by company founder Gottlieb Daimler to his wife.

For many years, Mr Daimler used the logo to mark the location of his family’s new home in the German town of Deutz before it was adopted as the Mercedes-Benz logo from 1910.


Everyone recognises the prancing horse but what does it have to do with ferocious supercars? Horsepower maybe? No, the horse apparently symbolises luck. The prancing horse first appeared on the warplane flown by Francesco Baracca, an Italian flying ace who died during World War I.


In 1923, a young Enzo Ferrari met Baracca’s parents when he was still a racing driver. The pair suggested Enzo use their son’s prancing horse badge on his race cars, for good luck and as a gesture of respect for their son.

Enzo obviously agreed but not before adding a yellow background – the official colour of his hometown in Modena, Italy.


These famous four rings have perhaps become more iconic than the Audi name itself but rather than the Audi brand, the logo originally represented four: DKW, Horch, Wanderer and finally, Audi and collectively, they formed the Auto Union.

Audi RS5 Front

The rings are silver – the national racing colour of Germany – and represent each of the four brand, overlapping to signify union.


Forget tales of aeroplane propellers, this blue and white logo was lifted from the Bavarian flag and that’s where the story ends.


Admittedly, that’s not particularly exciting but over the years, there’s been so much discussion over what BMW’s logo actually is that we couldn’t resist clarifying this once and for all.


Talk about hiding in plain sight, that exactly what Toyota’s squiggley logo is doing. Look closer and you’ll see that each letter of Toyota’s name is in there.



Does Chevy’s logo look like a bow tie? Not really and how the emblem came about is even more confusing with many contradicting tales.


Some say Louis Chevrolet was inspired by wallpaper in his hotel room during a visit to Paris in 1908. However, Mr Chevrolet’s wife said her husband had spotted the design in an advertisement in a Sunday supplement and that original design had actual human-like legs.


We all love a happy accident and that’s what the diagonal streak on the front end of Volvos is.


Originally, the Volvo logo was the Roman symbol for iron – symbolising a warrior’s shield and spear and the diagonal streak across the grille was originally only a mounting point for the badge.

However, over time, it has become an intrinsic part of the Swedish brand’s identity so much that new Volvo models now line up with the arrow.

Like What You’ve Read?

For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.

Please note: You cannot subscribe to Motor-Vision unless you put a tick in the checkbox below to indicate have read and agreed to our privacy policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.