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Marked in style: Iconic car logos and the intriguing stories behind them

When we think of the best car logos today, we wonder, what really went into the choosing of this signature design. These are the backstories you didn’t know about.

Right from American classics to European exotics, every luxury car has a logo that points to its heritage and the brand’s vision. Sometimes external factors like lifestyle, regional influences, and even personal affairs end up playing a vital role in the logo’s design. Today, we highlight some of the best car logos and the interesting stories of their genesis.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo’s medieval Christian-inspired logo

Definitely one of the most intriguing, intimidating, and oldest logos (born in 1910) in luxury motoring history, Alfa Romeo’s logo is a melding of medieval Christian and Italian heritage. On one side of the logo is a cross that represents Milan, where the brand was founded, and on the other half is a giant serpent in whose mouth is seen a man. This is the symbol of the House of Visconti, the most important family that ruled Milan between the 13th and 15th century. Otone Visconti, the founder of the Visconti family fought a Saracen knight, defeating him, and following tradition, took the symbol he carried on his shield – a snake with a human in his mouth.


Shelby’s iconic Cobra logo

Back in the 60s, there was one sports car that cemented its name as an American icon. It was the AC Cobra. Shelby’s logo is traditionally a serpent too, and is said to have been designed so after a cobra appeared to Carroll Shelby, a racer and the designer who created the AC Cobra, in his sleep. Later on, North Korean car designer John Chun redesigned the logo so that it looked more menacing – coiled, fangs bared. This version is the most recognised of Shelby logos.


Abarth’s astrologically inspired logo

The story behind Abarth is simple but nobody would have guessed it. The scorpion is a deadly  creature and the astrological sign of founder Karl Alberto Abarth. To him, the creature personified distinction, power, and edge. The yellow and red shield upon which it rests represents passion and energy in the racing world.


Maserati’s Trident logo

An ode to the city of Bologna in Italy, the birthplace of Maserati, the brand’s symbol features a trident. The first thing that comes to mind is the trident of Poseidon, but it’s actually related to the Fountain of Neptune at Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore. The Founders, Alfieri Maserati and brothers first introduced this logo in 1926 when they produced their first Tipo 26 model.


Ferrari’s Prancing Horse of Italy logo

Popularly known as the Prancing Horse of Italy, Ferrari’s logo is actually influenced by a World War I pilot, Francesco Baracca. In 1923, Enzo Ferrari, the founder, met the late Francesco’s parents after a race, where they told Enzo about Francesco’s habit of painting a prancing horse on every war plane he flew, done as a mark of good luck and success. Enzo adopted it, and it became Ferrari’s badge, undeniably one of the best, most recognized car logos of all time.

All Images: Courtesy brand

Marked in style: Iconic car logos and the intriguing stories behind them

Mikhail Gomes

Features Editor, Lifestyle Asia India & Contributor - Augustman

A watch aficionado, Mikhail also enjoys learning about fine whiskies, and one day hopes to establish his own menswear label. At Lifestyle Asia India, he writes on watches, menswear, auto and tech.


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