The automotive market is dominated by household names, yet through the years hundreds of brands have emerged and faded away. As the market evolves, we’ll continue to see new brands emerge, represented by logos and emblems designed to call the brand and all it stands for immediately to mind.
We’ve selected a dozen emblems from around the globe for your review. Can you name them all? Better yet, do you know what they represent?
12 Car Logos to Test Your Knowledge
Scroll down for the answers:
Beginning in late 2021, the first models sporting a Rivian emblem will take to the road. Represented by the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, these all-electric vehicles are manufactured in Indiana. The logo’s four directional arrows represent innovation and adventure (outside arrows) and being inspiring and inviting to all (inside arrows).
Launched in 1856 in Australia as a saddlery brand, Holden later began to build cars and became a subsidiary of GM in 1931. Although no Holden-badged models were sold in the U.S., several vehicles made it to the states and were badged as the Pontiac G8 and the Chevrolet SS, but GM shuttered the brand in 2020. The distinctive badge comes from an ancient story speculating that wheels were invented by lions rolling stones.
One of 12 brands under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, Skoda is a Czech company founded in 1895 with a presence in Europe and Asia. The logo is a winged arrow with three feathers. The arrow represents speed, and the feathers represent progress.
This current emblem represents one of the largest automakers in the world, Toyota, launched in 1990. Consisting of three overlapping ellipses, the logo stands for the unification of the hearts of Toyota’s customers and the company’s products.
Officially known as Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, SEAT is a Spanish automaker introduced in 1950 and owned by the Volkswagen Group since 1986. The stylized S represents speed, swiftness, dynamics and technical development.
Oldsmobile was founded in 1897 by Ransom Olds. Under GM, Olds served as a stepping stone between Pontiac and Buick, but a declining identity did it in. Ironically, its last logo, which featured a rocket piercing an oval (an updated version of the old rocket emblem seen above), represented a “new direction” for the brand. But Olds was shuttered in 2004, less than 10 years after the rebranding.
Founded by Chrysler in 1928, the Plymouth brand touted its Mayflower tribute from the start, as it was named for the rock where English settlers landed in 1620. Its last logo, an updated version of the classic one pictured here, rolled out in 1996, just five years before the brand’s demise. Its remaining models were rebranded under the Chrysler name.
If it weren’t for the “Back to the Future” movie franchise, would we even remember DeLorean? This futuristic model, assembled in Northern Ireland by a former GM exec, had a short run in the 1980s. Its blocky logo, DMC, stands for the DeLorean Motor Company.
Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra, established in 1945, sells tractors in the U.S. and may soon offer its line of Jeep-like vehicles as well. For now, however, they don’t offer any road cars to American buyers. The stylized “M” in the center of the logo represents the company’s first letter, doubling as stylized lane markers.
As one of the 14 brands under the Stellantis umbrella (itself representing the merger of Fiat Chrysler and the PSA Groupe), the Abarth performance brand emblem is occasionally affixed to select Fiat models. It’s recognizable for the scorpion insignia (founder Carlo Abarth was a Scorpio) which overlays a lightning bolt Italian flag. Abarth got started in 1949.
British brand Vauxhall is a mirror image of Opel, selling the same vehicles in limited markets under its name. Founded in 1857, Vauxhall started as a pump and engine manufacturer and began its transition to automobiles in 1903. The griffin featured on the emblem is a famously majestic mythical creature with a body of a lion and the wings of an eagle.
NIO is an emerging Chinese automotive company founded in 2014 with an eye toward expanding overseas, including into the United States. NIO is a manufacturer of electric vehicles, and its Chinese name is “Weiling,” or “Blue Sky Coming.” The top part of the logo represents the sky, openness, vision and the future. The bottom part represents the earth, direction, action and forward momentum.
And Now You Know
This short list barely scratches the surface of all the makes and models that have come and gone in the hundred-plus years since the emergence of the automobile. Keep your eyes peeled as you hit the road, and you just might spot one you’ve never seen before.
Check out all the logos and trim available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. To learn more about your favorite car brands, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.