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Story of the Week

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of General Motors Media Archives/Jill Reger - 1950 Oldsmobile emblem
Published 1.20.2021

The Buick emblem circa 1908 as displayed on a car RESIZED 1The Buick emblem circa 1908 as displayed on a car

Recently, General Motors announced that, after more than 50 years, the company will be changing its great looking and iconic logo. The new logo reflects the company's move into the world of electric vehicles. The new logo presents the letter “M” as an electric plug and utilizes a brighter blue-sky appearance, which is tastefully done to represent GM’s moving forward into the future. In addition, GM’s new logo is integrated with a new marketing campaign called “Everybody In.”

The history of Buick logos GM Media ArchivesThe history of Buick logos (GM Media Archives)

For many years, General Motors and their brands have featured many great looking and fascinating emblems and logos. Buick was incorporated on May 19,1903, and, with the help from William C. Durant, the 1908 Buick became one of the greatest selling automobiles of that era. Many of the early Buick models had the brand lettering located on the radiator housing in front of the vehicle (pictured above).

The history of Chevrolet logos GM Media ArchivesThe history of Chevrolet logos (GM Media Archives)

Throughout GM’s history, the Chevrolet brand has been one of their best sellers. Co-founder Louis Chevrolet drove the first prototype Chevy model. Only two basic emblems have been used over the brand’s history, a script wordmark and the familiar “bow tie” design, one of the most recognizable automotive symbols in the world. The Chevrolet “bow tie” was introduced in 1913 by co-founder William C. Durant on the 1914 H-2 Royal Mail model. The "bow tie” has been revised often but never removed.
A Chevrolet history booklet GM Media Archives RESIZEDA Chevrolet history booklet (GM Media Archives) 

Cadillac has often used the slogan “the standard of the world” and remains very popular among consumers today. Cadillac emblems have always introduced many great looking and popular vehicles. The Cadillac trademark logo was registered on August 7,1906. Over the years, the brand was reflected by a variety of symbols that reflected Cadillac’s great heritage. Although the Cadillac coat of arms was not registered as a trademark until 1906, they were in use as early as September of 1902. In 1936, the radiator grille of the V8 models used the shield with a black background and red stripes running down from the right top to bottom. When their postwar models were introduced, Cadillac offered the popular “V” designed crest, which was admired by many consumers and used with some earlier models as well. Other examples of the V angle design included the 1960 Cadillac with its widening style that reached its maximum and the height of the arms at its minimum. By 1970, Cadillac changed its emblems, and the traditional “V” was no longer used.

The history of Cadilac logos GM Media Archives RESIZEDThe history of Cadilac logos (GM Media Archives)

The Oldsmobile division was a popular and great GM brand for more than 100 years from 1897 to 2004. An early Oldsmobile emblem was represented on the 1904 Curved Dash Runabout, which helped launch Oldsmobile as a national brand. One of the most popular Oldsmobile identifiers was the emblem from the 1950s, known as the “Ringed Globe” used between 1949 and 1956.

An Oldsmobile emblem design from the 1940s GM Media ArchivesAn Oldsmobile emblem design from the 1950s

During the 1970s, the Pontiac division offered a great looking emblem on its popular Trans Am model. The Firebird was developed as a pony car, and the logotype reflected the car's name. The model featured a great looking stylized bird with its wings open wide. The Firebird and Trans Am both enjoyed highly successful sales numbers and were admired by consumers and auto enthusiasts alike.  
A Pontiac logo design integrated into the Trans Am nameplate GM Media Archives RESIZED

In conclusion, General Motors recently changed its logo. The new logo is only its fifth major redesign since the automaker was founded more than 110 years ago.

The new GM logo introduced in 2021 GM Media Archives RESIZED 8The new GM logo introduced in 2021 (General Motors)

Bibliography

Bonsal, Thomas E. “Pontiac, The Complete History 1926-1986." Bookman Publishing, 1985.

“Oldsmobile, The First Seventy-five Years.” An Automobile Quarterly Publication, 1972.

Hendry, Maurice D. “Cadillac, Standard of the world: The Complete History.” An Automobile Quarterly Library Series book, 1983.

Dammann, George H. “Sixty Years of Chevrolet.” Crestline Publishing, 1972.

Dunham, Terry B and Gustin, Lawrence R. “The Buick: A Complete History." An Automobile Quarterly Magnificent Marque Series book.

 

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