Undisclosed Historical Meanings of Auto Badges

By Dash Dynamics

11 February 2020

Following on from one of our recent blogs, Vehicle Badge History, we are going to delve a little bit deeper into the secret past of famous brands auto badges.  Looking at a range of well-known vehicles we’ll let you decide which version of events to believe. 

When it comes to auto badges you’re unlikely to think twice. Do you ever notice if they change? Has the meaning linked to the badge ever caused intrigue? Let’s investigate a little. 

BMWs are easily recognisable, their famous, modest, blue and white logo registering in the subconscious without a second thought. Up until 1929 the origins of the simple yet effective branding pertained to the companies roots in airplane engines. History however leads us towards a different conclusion. BMW had a parent company called Rapp Motorwerke. It’s suggested the modern logo is a spin off of the parent company that featured the head of a horse inside a black circle.

The Subaru auto badge depicts a six star constellation and looks really great right? But what exactly do the stars represent? If you’ve not heard of Pleiades, look up to the sky at night and if it’s clear you may find this cluster of stars. For Subaru, the stars exhibit the merging of six companies, forming Fuji Heavy Industries. This makes more sense when we learn the word ‘Subaru’ in Japanese means ‘to gather together’. The first president of the company liked this word, thus Subaru the brand, was born.

Plenty of myths and legends surround the bow tie emblem found on the Chevrolet auto badge. Some believe that co founder William C Durant was enjoying a meal in a restaurant and felt creative. During desert Mr Durant sketched his ideas onto the table cloth. Others feel it’s more believable that the design came directly from a French wallpaper pattern. Another school of thought points to the cross on the Swiss flag. Which do you find most likely? 

If your front door opens to a Porsche badge every day, you’re doing something right. Have you ever considered where the design came from though? The auto badge itself portrays a combination of a former German state and a prancing horse. Coincidence? Learning that Stuttgart was the capital of the former said state and when translated the former state means ‘stud farm’, it’s not so coincidental. Similarly to Chevrolet Porsche offers two scenarios as to where the emblem came from. The first suggests a meal was involved and the second states it was a product of Porsche engineer Franz Xavier Reinspiess. You decide which works best. 

Possibly one of the most well recognised logos is found upon the Ford. The auto badge as we know it has been the same since 1907. Prior to this it was a lot bolder sporting a large crest with ‘Ford Motor Co. Detroit Mich’ etched into it. That surely must have been one huge auto badge! 

We’ve previously written about Alfa Romeo and the design of their logo in a blog you will find here. Whilst it looks extremely unique, the story behind the design is fairly strange. Alfa is actually an acronym, representing Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. Included is a red cross, a symbol for Milan. We then have the uncommon image of a snake holding a man in its mouth and this is taken from the house of Visconti (an Italian family name belonging to noble dynasties in the middle ages). It’s documented that Alfa Romeo chose this feature due to a battle fought and won by the Archbishop of Milan in the Crusades. Not everyone takes this information on board however. Other versions suggest the archbishops’ son took the symbol in the eighth century from Germanic legends. According to Alfa Romeo, the male located in the snake’s mouth is not being eaten as opposed to emerging, reborn. 

There’s certainly some interesting details attached to each of these auto badges. 

Don’t forget, we are one of the UKs leading auto badge suppliers. With a strong, knowledgeable team Dash Dynamics are on hand to help.