- The Inception and Rise of the American Car Brands
- Luxury American Car Brand Logos
- American Muscle Car Brand Logos
- High Performance American Car Brand Logos
- Vintage American Car Brand Logos
- Most Popular American Car Brand Logos
- What Makes these Iconic American Car Brand Logos So Memorable?
Discover the Top Ten American Brands of Cars Known Globally
Since the invention of the motor vehicle, developing cars and tuning them for better performance have been a hallmark of the USA. Many established American car brands have grown out of garages and small shops, to become some of the biggest automobile makers in the world.
This drive to achieve the pinnacle of speed, performance, and luxury has made a few companies like Cadillac, Mustang, and Tesla become a global phenomenon. From creating entirely new categories of cars, to breaking the glass ceiling of electric vehicles and making them a popular consumer product, that is the legacy of the American car manufacturers.
During their time in the industry, these automotive companies have often utilized expert branding services, in order to make their mark. This is especially true for the time when Japanese imports were cheaper, more reliable, and easier and cheaper to keep than American domestic products.
In order to make people buy their products instead of the imports, these branding agencies used a number of techniques, like piquing the patriotism of the American people by portraying it as their American duty to buy locally produced vehicles. That sentiment is why you will find recognizable American car brand logos in southern states of the US, like the iconic Chevrolet or Ford emblem, due to them being more patriotic than the northern states.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular car brands from the USA.
1- The Inception and Rise of the American Car Brands
In the late 1800s, many engineers and entrepreneurs were working on creating self-powered vehicles, employing a variety of power sources, like steam, gasoline, and even electric. However, these early productions were quite expensive, and out of the reach for the vast majority of people.
The first reliable, and affordable mass produced automobile, was the Oldsmobile Curved Dash, created in 1901. Its inventor, Ransom E. Olds, is credited as being the founder of the assembly line process, and used a fixed production line to produce his automobiles.
However, it wasn’t until Henry Ford revealed the Ford Model T in 1908, that a true American, mass produced automobile for the masses actually came into production. Designed and priced to be affordable for anyone with a reasonable income, and the introduction of automobile loans and payment plans, made it easy for people to own one.
The car soon became so popular, that by 1927, nearly half of the cars in the USA were a Model T, with fifteen million units produced by the end of 1927. This made Ford cars the most popular roadster for the American people.
In the decades after that, various companies started to improve their automobiles, from providing different luxury trims, to improving on the horsepower of the car’s engine. And once the Prohibition Era began, the tuner culture was born, which gave way to the formation of the NASCAR racing league.
With trade of alcohol banned in those times, entrepreneurs started brewing and supplying homemade spirits and drinks to distributors around the country. The expert drivers who carried these spirits back and forth were called bootleggers, and this dangerous job often involved escaping the clutches of the police.
This led to these drivers modifying their cars drastically, especially the performance of their engines. Once it practice became more common, the thrill for speed and danger took a hold of these daredevils. This resulted in many friendly races being organized, where these bootleggers competed to find out who was the fastest.
Eventually, this led to the formation of the NASCAR league, which helped many bootleggers turn their talents towards a more legitimate outlet.
This entire, rich history of the automotive evolution in the USA is too long to do justice in a single article. However, we can safely say that the drive to develop powerful yet affordable cars is what made many American car brands known around the globe, establishing them as some of the best automobile makers around the globe.
2- Luxury American Car Brand Logos
American car brands come in a variety of flavors. From hardy utility automobiles and muscle cars, to hybrid or completely electric vehicles, carmakers in the USA create products for customers from every niche.
Luxury vehicles are one of the more common category of cars that America car companies are known for. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular luxury automobile brands of North America.
The automotive manufacturer began their business in 1902, owned and operated by Henry M. Leland. It is one of the oldest car manufacturing company in the US, coming in at second after fellow luxury car brand called Buick.
Purchased by General Motors in 1909, it became the default luxury vehicle manufacturer for the GM group. Today, its primary market consists of the USA, Canada, and even China. Additionally, it also markets and supplies their offerings to an additional thirty-four nations across the globe. Learn more about the Cadillac logo here.
Founded in 1905, the Chrysler corporation is a popular long established maker of luxury vehicles. Their original logo was a Pentastar, which was changed a few years later. The new design was based on the Kruessler family crest, and when accompanied by wings on either side of the logo, it exuded elegance and sophistication.
After reverting back to the Pentastar logo in the early 1960s, the Chrysler group introduced the winged brand symbol in the 1990s. The new Chrysler logo, with and elegant design, is one of the most popular and well known car logos in the automotive industry.
Another luxury car manufacturer from the GM group, Buick creates automobiles that are marketed to an upscale clientele looking for luxury vehicles. However, while they usually develop cars well above the everyday Chevrolet brand from General Motors, they are below the top tier of luxury GM models, which is held by Cadillac currently.
The logo as well as the colors are a play on the family coat of arms of the Scottish Buik family, which were the originators of the brand. And while the company has used many different types of logos and variants over the years, the main theme of their brand identifier has been the tri-shield imagery. And although the color scheme has given way to a monochrome silver and black color scheme, the core design idea is the same.
Lincoln is one luxury car brand in America that isn’t spoken about commonly today. Yet that wasn’t always the case. Started by Henry M. Leland in 1917, it was soon acquired by the Ford Motor Company in 1922.
For a long while, Lincoln was the most popular luxury vehicle manufacturer in the country, manufacturing products for Presidents, businessmen, and other people of note. However, since the arrival of other luxury car brands such as Lexus, the company soon declined in popularity. Nevertheless, the term Lincoln Town Car is often used to refer to the limousines commonly available for hire.
3- American Muscle Car Brand Logos
There is no category of vehicles more American than the muscle cars. From full sized muscle cars to their smaller, pony car variants, this category has spawned a number of iconic cars with a variety of famous American car brand logos on them.
Now, the Japanese sports cars from the likes of Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and more are known for their superb handling, and the European cars are known for their exquisite luxury. But there is no match for raw power of the American muscle cars.
So, let’s take a look at some of the top companies whose car brand symbols became known as American muscle car brand emblems.
Chevrolet, known informally as Chevy, is a muscle car icon. The Chevrolet Camaro was, and still is, considered one of the best muscle cars of its era. Similarly, the Chevrolet Chevelle and the Impala are some more icons from the muscle car era, embodying class and power into a sleek, Detroit-steel body.
The company began in late 1911, when Swiss racecar driver and brothers, Louis Chevrolet and Arthur Chevrolet founded the company with William C. Durant of GM’s fame, and other co-investors. The plan was to use the racing expertise to drum up interest in the new car business.
The Chevrolet logo for the business has been in the shape of an upright cross, with the horizontal arms spread out on both sides of the symbol. The resultant symbol is also known as the bowtie logo, due to it being reminiscent of a fancy bow tie. The color of the logo is yellow and black with silver outline and highlights.
However, the new color scheme had only been introduced a couple of decades earlier, with the company using either a black & white color scheme, or a blue one.
Dodge is an American automotive brand which is owned by the Fiat Chrysler Group. It is known for producing lower-end rebadged variants of Chrysler’s premium vehicles. However, its better known for its sports cars. Originally, Dodge was associated as Chrysler’s mid-tier brand, above Plymouth but below the premium brand.
It uses a number of logo variations, including the logomark, the wordmark, or a mix of both. The logo mark featured a Ram’s head, which was later adopted as their symbol by the Ram brand of utility trucks. The wordmark logo, uses a set of clear and distinct logo fonts, with rounded edges and clear space between the characters.
A sub-brand of the Chevrolet Motors, Corvette is purely sports-oriented in terms of their offerings. The cars produced by the brand are sleek, with an aggressive stance, and easily recognizable by one of the most iconic vehicle logos in the US – the flying V made of crossed Chevrolet and checkered flags.
The logo features a pair of crossed flags, the checkered race flag, and another flag with the Chevrolet logo on it. The shiny appearance of the logo, as well as the swept-back, sharply angled design of the logo fits perfectly with the sleek profiles of their cars. Some of their more iconic offerings include the Corvette Stingray from 1968-82, which was a sheer beauty to look at, and a great pleasure to drive.
Just like Porsche came up with the Targa category of sports cars, different from what was being seen in the industry, Mustang too is known for creating an entire category of cars in the American market. And with its iconic logo featuring a galloping horse, the company is one of the few American car brands known around the world by automotive aficionados.
Known for creating pony cars, a style of performance cars with shorter backs and elongated hoods, the Ford Mustang brand logo one of the few US car logos to grace many iconic cars, which are considered classics today. And with shorter and lighter bodies, but with powerful engines under the hood, these sleek cars are some of the best on the streets.
Plymouth was an automobile company that had a successful run in the market as a division of Chrysler. It was launched in 1928, and was designed to target the economical automobile market that was dominated by Chevrolet and Ford at that time. That was because Chrysler was focused on the luxury and higher-end market segment for automobiles, and needed something to fill the highly lucrative gap of cheap cars for the masses.
The brand is known for producing cars like the Plymouth Barracuda and the Roadrunner, both popular options for muscle car aficionados. Moreover, they have been associated with some of automobile racing and NASCAR’s greats, like Richard Petty and Dan Gurney.
The logo for the company features the prow of the famed Mayflower, which landed on Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, bringing the pilgrims to the United States. Considering the iconography, the brand was perfectly positioned to portray itself as quintessentially “American”.
AMC, or American Motors Corporation, was formed as a merger between the Nash-Kelvinator Corp. and the Hudson Motor Car Company, in the largest corporate merger in the history of the United States at that time. And while its biggest competition in the automobile industry was the big-three – Ford, GM, and Chrysler, its primary competition were smaller producers like Studebaker, Packard, and Willys-Overland.
After its formation, AMC produced a variety of automobiles and in various segments too. Small cars like the Gremlin and the Pacer, full sized cars like the Ambassador and the Rebel, to some of the best value-for-money muscle cars like the AMX, Javelin, and the Marlin, were some of AMC’s top cars.
The company was also known for producing the first true crossovers within the United States, when they developed and produced the 4-wheel drive variants of the Jeep Wagoneer and Eagle. With one of American automotive industry’s best stylist in the form of Dick Teague at its helm, AMC made an impact that targeted far above what they should have been able to achieve.
As a tribute to its name, as well as honoring the legacy of its initial companies, the AMC logo uses a red, white, and blue color scheme. Moreover, the shape of the design makes a silhouette of the letter A, signifying the brand’s American roots. This is similar to how the Kia logo tried to embody its Asian roots in the earliest versions, before it expanded to the global market truly.
4- High Performance American Car Brand Logos
With a rich history of producing powerful automobiles, with massive engine displacements and explosive power, its no wonder that the country has given birth to some high performance car companies and tuners. From the massively popular Dodge Hellcat and Demon, to the nigh-indestructible Hemi engines, there are a lot of options to choose from when you desire nothing but pure, unadulterated automotive power.
Let’s take a look at some performance oriented US car companies that you can choose from, if you want something a cut above than Dodge or Mustang.
Originally, Hennessey is a performance garage that tunes sports cars from various companies like Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Ford, Lotus, and many others. Their purpose is to extract the maximum amount of power and performance out of the car, by modifying individual components to maximize power.
2010 saw the company reveal their first production car, a heavily modified Lotus Exige, called the Hennessey Venom GT. Currently known as the fastest street-legal car in the world, but it does not hold the record for it officially. Their logo is a simple lettermark, featuring the company’s initials.
Saleen Automotive company creates high-performance automotive parts. Founded and owned by Steve Saleen, the company produces a variety of vehicles on order. However, their flagship car, and the most well-known offering by the company, was the Saleen S7, released in 2000.
Unlike their other offerings which build over an existing chassis from other American car brands, the S7 was designed and built from scratch by the company. The car featured a mid-engine layout, and was the company only addition to the supercars available at that time.
SSC Automotive, or Shelby Super Cars, is one of the lesser known American car brands. A performance oriented company, they focus on creating powerful, high performance cars, often categorized as Hypercars. These types of supercars are a step above the normal, with insane amounts of power produced by their engines.
Not to be confused by the Carroll Shelby International, another performance house from America, the company has created a number of automotive offerings since its beginning in the late 1990s. Some of their well-known cars include the SSC Aero, a sports car based on the Pontiac Fiero, and the current production SSC Tuatara; a hypercar series based on the profile of jet fighters.
Owned by the Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang, Karma is based in California. Originally called Fisker Automotive, it was founded by Henrik Fisker. Their luxury car at the time, called the Fisker Karma, was a plug-in hybrid sports car. While well-received at its inception, two separate recalls due to battery issues forced the company into bankruptcy.
Currently, the company produces a new car by the name of Karma Revero. Based on the original Fisker Karma, the car uses the revamped power system, and was debuted in 2016. So far, the company plans to produce and sell 3000 of these electric sports car, before introducing a new variant within their lineup.
5- Vintage American Car Brand Logos
With an automotive industry that spans nearly a dozen decades, many American car brands have now become defunct, or merged with other brands to form new automobile companies. However, despite the companies shutting down due to financial issues or lack of interest in their automotive direction, some of these all-American car brand logos have achieved a cult status.
For some, they are a throwback to a car they bought, used, or loved back as a kid or a young adult. And with so many memories attached to it, a glance at that car brand logo, or a similar car can be a great evoker of emotions.
Let’s take a look at some of these, now defunct, yet still classic American car brand logos that evoke fond emotions for a large part of our population.
Pontiac was an American automobile brand that operated under the General Motors umbrella. Formed as a companion make for GM’s more expensive, and luxurious, Oakland brand cars. However, in 1933, a few short years after its formation, Pontiac overtook Oakland in sales and popularity, and took over as the primary brand altogether.
However, despite its status as a full-blown car manufacturer, it still came in fourth in GM’s hierarchy, below Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac. Around 1960, the company decided to brand it as a performance-oriented lifestyle automobile, which would help bring excitement to your life.
Despite its success as a brand, as well as the cult following a few of its automobiles still have, GM was forced to shut down the company in 2010, due to the 2008 financial crash. And just like its more premium GM cousin Oldsmobile, it is still fondly remembered by many people in the US.
The logo for the company is an interesting one. Built in the triangle logos style, it takes its design cue from the name of the brand itself. The car company was named after the famed Native American chief called Pontiac. And in that vein, the company decided to use the Native American red arrowhead as their company symbol.
The Hudson Motor Car Company is another defunct American car brand, that is known for producing good-quality cars for consumers. Since its inception in 1903, the company had produced a number of vehicles under the Hudson brand. However, in 1954, the company merged with Nash-Kelvinator, and formed the American Motor Corporation, also known as AMC.
In its time as Hudson, the company and its economical marquee Essex became one of the foremost automobile manufacturers in the country, especially considering that there were dozens of different brands competing in the market at that time.
One of the most interesting car emblem logos, it uses an eclectic mix of colors, with the red and gray combination exuding power, strength, and conviction. The shape of the emblem is a trapezoid, which lends well to the logo being used as a stamped brand or seal, a common design trait in the early 20th century.
Oldsmobile was another division of General Motors, established by American businessperson Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In 2004, due to intense competition from luxury imports for the last decade or so resulted in declining sales, which eventually led to the company shutting down.
At the time of its retirement, it was the oldest American car brand, and among the 10 oldest car brands in the world. In the company’s more than a century of manufacturing automobiles, they produced over thirty five million vehicles, and were known for many new automotive technologies in that time.
Continuing with the theme of a rocket in their older logos, the last emblem used by Oldsmobile showed the rocket going in a different direction than the straight up of the older versions. Moreover, the rocket breaching the top of the circle in the design also highlights the company going outside the boundaries in search for something new and exciting.
6- Most Popular American Car Brand Logos
Finally, we get to the most awaited list in this article of ours. Some brands are known for a specific car they produce. Others are known for a category or more. However, there are only a few brands that are considered great all across the board.
Despite that, the popularity of these brands, no matter how good the company might be, rises and falls from season to season. A few of these brands have managed to sustain their popularity despite the recent economic downturn and global crisis.
From compact cars to SUVs and family vehicles, here are some of the most popular brands that you will find people using in the US.
Ford is one of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the US, and has a rich history of serving patrons quality automobiles since the time of the Henry Ford Company. Currently, the brand has shares in multiple brands across the globe, including Britain’s Aston Martin, Brazilian Troller, and the Chinese Jiangling Motors.
Moreover, the company also sells luxury, high-end vehicles under the Lincoln marquee, which allows it to diversify its market without associating Ford with one or more specific consumer categories. In 2019, Ford managed to become the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, beating GM, Chrysler, and other Asian and European brands.
The Ford logo is a flat, stylized wordmark that spells the name of the brand in a cursive script typeface. One of the most popular car brand logos of all time, The design of the wordmark is inspired by Henry Ford’s signature, designed to mimic how the company’s founder signed his name. And although the company’s first logo was a bit more traditional, it was simplified to a form like the current one a few years later.
GMC is a subdivision of General Motors Corporation, which focuses primarily on producing trucks and other utility vehicles for consumers and corporations. The GMC logo can be seen on a wide variety of pickup trucks, SUVs, buses, commercial vans and trucks, military vehicles, and more.
The brand has long been a part of the GM umbrella, and has featured on some very popular vehicles in its time. From the Chevy El Camino derived GMC Sprint, to the high performance Syclone pickup truck and the Typhoon SUV, the GMC badge has seen use on many popular vehicles.
Today, the brand sells a variety pickup trucks like the Sierra heavy duty pickup truck, the Canyon midsize pickup truck, and GM’s first all-electric pickup – the Hummer EV SUT. Similarly, its range of SUVs include the famed Yukon & Yukon XL, the crossovers Acadia and Terrain, and the planned all-electric Hummer EV SUV.
Its logo is quite simple. The company has always used a lettermark for its logo. However, that doesn’t mean that the company meant for their logo to be subtle. On the contrary. The big bold letters, colored in a bright red color with a prominent silver-chrome outline make for an attractive brand logo, and the perfect example of simple yet evocative red logos.
Started by current billionaire and world’s richest man, Elon Musk, in 2003, Tesla produces purely electric vehicles. They also manufacture energy storage solutions, solar energy capturing systems, and clean energy production systems.
Their logo represents a cross-section of an electrical motor, paying homage to the forgotten inventor and scientific visionary, Nikola Tesla. Known for their electric cars, the company produces top-of-the-line automobiles like the famous Tesla 3, which is one of the best and most reliable electric vehicles produced by any company.
The Rivian brand has an interesting history, and one that only came to be in the last decade or so. The founder of Rivian had a vision to create a sustainable vehicle for people with a diverse array of automotive needs.
Founding the company in the late 2000s, the company soon changed its name twice to form Rivian. The name of the company is based on the Indian River in the US, a region that is close to the brand founder’s heart. As an avid outdoorsman, he planned to combine his love for the outdoors with his passion for sustainable transport, and worked to create R1T and the R1S, Rivian’s two all-electric vehicles.
The Rivian logo is an interesting with a great concept behind it. the four-pointed symbol mimics the compass, a device which changed the world for us. According to the company, the inspiring impact of the compass is what guides them, helping them to make as big an impact as the compass itself.
7- What Makes these Iconic American Car Brand Logos So Memorable?
All of these logos representing the various American car brands are unique and distinct in their own right. and that has helped these symbols become iconic. But what is about these logos that make these brand identifiers so irresistible to their viewers?
If you take any of the logos discussed earlier, you will see that each of these brand symbols, in their own unique way, pays tribute to the company. Now it can be in the form of the design itself, or through other factors such as color combinations etcetera. This connection helps customers and viewers associate the brand, and their offerings, together easily.
For example, the Ford Mustang symbol is one of the easier ones to remember. But not only does it help us remember its name, but the association with horses also symbolizes the type of cars they produce.
This is what makes these car brands logos so iconic.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many companies in the US who design and develop vehicles currently, a few of them big brands like Ford, as well as smaller independent companies like Saleen or Karma.
Many American car brands have gone out of business, such as AMC, Fisker Automotive, Pontiac, and many more.
American car brands that manufacture luxury cars include Lincoln and Cadillac.
Yes, many American automotive companies create highly reliable vehicles nowadays. However, there was a time when some cars like the AMC Gremlin, were considered failures or Lemons, due to their high tendency to be unreliable.
The history of the American car brands, and the general rise and development of the American automotive industry, is an incredibly vast topic. From the famed motor city of Detroit, to the southern hot rodding aficionados, designing and building cars has been a favorite pastime for many generations of gearheads.
Now that you know about these famous car logos from American automobile companies, want to know how to create a logo that represents your brand as well as they do?
Logopoppin is a graphic design agency that specializes in logo designing, web development, video production and advanced branding services. We love to innovate businesses with new age technologies, allowing them to improve their visual reputation.