Automotive Symbolism: The Origins of 15 Manufacturer Badges

Some of the oldest and most recognisable brands in the Automotive industry use badges that are trenched in mythology and sometimes obscurity. Here are 15 manufacturer badges and their histories:

After looking into the origins of these easily recognisable car manufacturers, one stuck out like a sore thumb as utterly peculiar. The Alfa Romeo badge is probably the strangest. The crest of a man being consumed by a snake is actually what’s known as a “Biscione,” an emblem of the House of Visconti, who controlled the city of Milan from the 13th to the 15th century.

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The crest of the house of Visconti.
The crest of the house of Visconti.

Legend states that in Lake Gerundo, very near Milan, an enormous snake lived and terrorised the inhabitants of the city by attacking and eating the children and polluting the water with its venom. In a heroic effort, Ottone Visconti, the founder of the family, slayed the snake and adorned his coat of arms with its likeness as a symbol of triumph.

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Alfa Romeo badge from 1915 - Depicts the consumption of a man more clearly.
Alfa Romeo badge from 1915 – Depicts the consumption of a man more clearly.

Why Alfa Romeo decided to attribute half of their logo to this weird legend remains mysterious. It isn’t like the crest itself depicts a triumphant moment of slaying a snake, but focuses on the darker element of the legend. Maybe it’s to warn us to tame the beastly nature of their more powerful models?