Car Brand Names and their History : Part 1

Aston Martin

Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. Martin raced specials at Aston Hill near Aston Clinton, and the pair decided to make their own vehicles. The first car to be named Aston Martin was created by Martin by fitting a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine to the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini.




August Horch’s first company was A. Horch & Cie. In 1909, Horch was forced out of the automobile company he had founded. Still wanting to produce automobiles, but was barred from using “Horch” as a trade name in his new car business, he created Audi. Horch!” in German means “Hark!” or “hear”, which is “Audi” in Latin.

Alfa Romeo

The company was originally known as ALFA ( Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili). Car production had not been considered at first, but resumed in 1919 since parts for the completion of 105 cars were still lying at the A.L.F.A. factory since 1915. In 1920, the name of the company was changed to Alfa Romeo when Nicola Romeo bought ALFA and appended his surname to the brand. The Torpedo 20-30 HP was the first car to be badged as such.


Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works in English)

Being a company that used to produce aircrafts, the circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is portrayed by BMW as the movement of an aircraft propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky.


Citroën was named after André-Gustave Citroën (1878–1935), a French entrepreneur of Dutch descent. He was the fifth and last child of the Dutch Jewish diamond merchant Levie Citroën and Mazra Kleinmann (of Warsaw, Poland).

The origin of the logo may be traced back to a trip made to Poland by the 22-year-old André Citroën, where he discovered an innovative design for a chevron-shaped gear used in milling. He bought the patent for its application in steel. Mechanically a gear with helical teeth produces an axial force. By adding a second helical gear in opposition this force is cancelled. The two chevrons of the logo represent the intermeshing contact of the two.



The brand cam from the name of its founder, Enzo Ferrari.

The famous symbol of the Ferrari race team is the Cavallino Rampante (“prancing horse”) black prancing stallion on a yellow shield, usually with the letters S F (for Scuderia Ferrari), with three stripes of green, white and red (the Italian national colors) at the top. The road cars have a rectangular badge on the hood (see picture above), and, optionally, the shield-shaped race logo on the sides of both front wings, close to the door.



Porsche is  car company named after founder Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian automotive engineer. The family name may have originated in the Czech name “Boreš” (boresh). Porsche’s company logo was based on the coat of arms of Free People’s State of Württemberg of former Weimar Germany.



Rolls Royce name used by Rolls-Royce plc and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, among others. In 1884 Frederick Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business, making his first car, a Royce, in 1904. He was introduced to Charles Stewart Rolls on 4 May that year. The pair entered into a partnership in which Royce would manufacture cars to be sold exclusively by Rolls, and the cars would be called Rolls-Royce.



Volkswagen is the German for people’s car. Ferdinand Porsche wanted to produce a car that was affordable for the masses – the Kraft-durch-Freude-Wagen (or “Strength-Through-Joy car,” from a Nazi social organization) later became known, in English, as the Beetle.

Mercedes Benz

Founded by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz

Gottlieb Daimler. Mercedes came from the first name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who distributed cars of the early Daimler company around 1900.


Also check out: The Evolution of Auto Logos

1 Comment on “Car Brand Names and their History : Part 1

  1. Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have really loved surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing for your feed and I’m hoping you write once more very soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *