Car Emblems: the History and the Emotion Behind Them

There have always been little bits of engineering that define a car. Companies have been placing their signature house designs on their model line-ups for decades and these icons yield them brand recognition and publicity.

Without BMW’s Bavarian badge or Rolls-Royces’ beautiful half-naked lady, we’d be lost. So who makes the best emblems, the most evocative logos?

Rolls-Royce

The spirit of ecstasy has never been so attractive. Since Rolls-Royce gave us the Phantom nearly a decade ago, the world has looked upon the double-R in a different light. Rolls is now cool—which is something that it hasn’t been for a long time. The super-luxurious company has made claim to build the “best car in the world”, but until the Phantom, they didn’t. Before BMW took control of the company, Rolls was a car manufacturer that was suffering from a lack of direction. Now they’re back in the big-leagues and selling a lot of great, high-quality, cars!

The emblem: it’s beautiful, isn’t it? Even if Rolls-Royce just sold you the half-naked woman, you’d probably be happy (wouldn’t you?). It’s been the symbol for Rolls-Royce since its birth and it continues to help drivers, who aren’t petrolheads, to spot one on the motorway. If it’s got the sexy lady up on the front, it’s a Rolls.

In the Phantom, thanks to new safety laws, Rolls had to make sure the emblem was capable of hiding itself. So they came up with a switch that flips the emblem so it hides inside the bonnet. But as much as safety is a concern, you wouldn’t want to do that when you’ve just spent £250,000 on your brand new Rolls-Royce.

The Rolls Royce car emblem and icon

Ferrari

Their legendary Prancing Horse has always been connected with Ferrari. The good old Italian horse has always been there on pretty much every Ferrari since Enzo founded the company and it continues to sit proudly on the company’s road and F1 cars.

The evocative emblem just typifies what Ferrari is all about: power, speed and passion. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are doing their best to get Ferrari back to it’s winning ways in the pinnacle of motorsport, but thanks to a racing history so prestigious few can compete and with this emblem, Ferrari will always remain close to a lot of petrolhead’s hearts.

Ferrari car emblem and icon

Bentley

Bentley has sometimes suffered from hiding under Rolls-Royce’s shadow over the years. It’s always been seen as an executive and highly prestigious car manufacturer, but Rolls-Royce just seemed the way to go. Now, though, thanks to cars like the GT Continental and Mulsanne, Bentley has its own lane and following that it can take straight to the bank.

The Big B Bentley emblem may not be as pompous or extravagant as Rolls-Royce’s, but it still manages to look bloody cool. The B with the flying wings attached to the rear just looks amazingly post-modern, and it basically sums up Bentley’s model line-up.

The Flying Spur was a four-door version of the GT Continental and wears the flying B with pride. It’s an emblem that has withstood the test of time and will always be recognised as Bentley’s signature.

Bentley car emblem and icon

VW

It’s not all about supercars, though; as VW proved a few decades ago. Robbing a VW emblem from one of their camper vans was the coolest thing to do back in the late ‘80s. Wearing your stolen VW emblem as a chain was what the youths of the day wanted to do and it defined an era when hip-hop was becoming a popular form of music.

It just goes to show that you can have a socially cool emblem without being a supercar manufacturer. VW provides cheap, reliable and well-made cars to the people, but still manages to appeal to the younger generations when they wanted to bling up their neck.

Volkswagon car emblem and icon

Lamborghini

Lamborghini has to have one of the best car logos in the world. The car company famous for making up-start supercars designed for the super-rich and super-insane has a logo so visually powerful that you know they mean business. You’re hit with a raging bull that looks as if it’s just been kicked up the arse by a man dressed in all red.

It’s one of the most passionately evocative logos in the business and it perfect describes what Lamborghini is all about!

Lamborghini car logo and icon

With the hundreds of vehicle manufacturing logos around the world, which do you find most appealing? Appalling? Are these icons necessary anymore for established car brands? What would happen if these icons disappeared?