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Exotic Car Logos

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Bulls, horses, tridents, coats of arms, wheels and propellers -- what are all these exotic car logos, anyway? Find when each of these maker's signature hood ornaments and badges first appeared and why these emblems were chosen to represent the company.

1. Alfa Romeo/Ferrari

Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr

What is it? A four-leaf clover -- quadrifolio verde, in Italian -- on a white background

When did first appear? During World War I on Alfa Romeo race cars, then on Ferrari racers when Alfa shut down its racing program in the '20s. Later, it showed up on Alfas again.

What's it mean? It means what a four-leafed clover always means: good luck.

2. Bentley

Bentley's Flying B
Kristen Hall-Geisler for About.com

What is it? The flying B -- a capital letter B with wings. It comes in two forms: the 3D hood ornament, and the flat emblem with the B at the center.

When did it first appear? On the first test car, a 1919 Bentley 3 1/2-liter.

What's it mean? The B is for Bentley, and the wings symbolize the speed of its cars.

3. Bugatti

Bugatti Badge
Bugatti

What is it? Bugatti uses two badges, one red oval with "Bugatti" spelled out, and another with only "EB," and the E is backward.

When did it first appear? The very first Bugatti in 1910 sported the red oval. The initials are part of the company's later reincarnation.

What does it mean? Both badges are pretty straightforward, as they both reference the founder's name, Ettore Bugatti.

4. Ferrari

Ferrari Prancing Horse Badge
Kristen Hall-Geisler for About.com

What is it A "cavallino rampante," or prancing horse.

When did it first appear? In the 1920s, when Enzo Ferrari was still building race cars for Alfa Romeo. So its first appearance was not on a Ferrari.

What's it mean? The race team uses a shield-shaped logo with an SF at the bottom for Scuderia Ferrari, while the GT cars use a rectangular badge. The horse comes from a WWI flying ace, who painted a black horse on the side of his planes for good luck; Enzo asked to do the same for his race cars. The yellow background symbolizes Enzo's hometown, Modena.

5. Jaguar

Jaguar Growler Badge
Jaguar

What is it? Jaguar has had two hood ornaments: the growler, which has only a cat face; and the leaper, which is a full-bodied jaguar leaping from the hood.

When did it first appear? The leaper was used early in the company's history, before the outbreak of World War II. The flat growler was in use by 1950.

What's it mean? These two are pretty easy to parse. When your company's is named Jaguar, the hood ornaments seem to suggest themselves, no?

6. Koenigsegg

Koenigsegg Logo
Koenigsegg

What is it? A shield in red, yellow, and blue.

When did it first appear? As soon as the Koenigsegg company itself did, in 1994.

What's it mean? Founder and designer Christian Koenigsegg used his own family's coat of arms as a starting point, and developed the logo from there.

7. Lotus

Lotus Badge
Kristen Hall-Geisler for About.com

What is it? A Yellow circle with a green, curved triangle inside. It clearly reads "Lotus" at the bottom and has a jumble of overlapping letters at the top.

When did it first appear? Lotus has been using this badge since the early 50s, when the Lotus Engineering Company was founded.

What does it mean? The name of the company is obvious, but what are all those letters in the triangle's point? Those are all of founder Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman's initials -- though he's generally known as Colin Chapman.

8. Maserati

Maserati Trident
Maserati

What is it? A trident.

When did it first appear? As early as Maserati itself, in the 1920s.

What's it mean? It was believed to have been designed by Mario Maserati, the only one of five Maserati brothers who was an artist rather than an auto engineer, designer, or builder. He likely based it on the trident carried by Neptune in classical mythology.

9. Maybach

Maybach's Double Ms
Kristen Hall-Geisler for About.com

What is it? Two Ms inside a curved triangle

When did it first appear? Maybach is one of those companies with a two-part history. The double-M hood ornament has been around since the maker's first incarnation in the 1920s.

What does it mean? One of those Ms is for Maybach, of course. The second M doesn't stand for Mercedes, though they are both under the Daimler umbrella these days. It's actually for "Motorenbau," which is German for something like "engine installer."

10. Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Ecstasy
Rolls-Royce

What is it? The Spirit of Ecstasy, a woman with wings who leans into the wind on the hood. It's also known as the Flying Lady. Rolls-Royce also uses two overlapping Rs.

When did it first appear? February 1911. A kneeling version was used from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s.

What's it mean? The statuette was commissioned by Rolls-Royce as an official replacement for the custom hood ornaments people were attaching to their cars in the early days of motoring.

11. Spyker

Spyker's Wheel and Propeller
Spyker Cars N.V.

What is it? A multi-spoked automobile wheel with an airplane propeller in the center.The text on the bottom half of the wheel reads, "Nulla Tenaci Invia Est Via."

When did it first appear? Spyker is another of those died-and-resurrected exotic car companies. This logo appeared in 1914, when the car maker merged with an aircraft builder.

What's it mean? Well, now that you know about the merger with the Dutch Aircraft Factory, you can probably figure it out. You're smart that way. You might need help translating the motto, though, which means "For the tenacious, no road is impassable."

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