By on December 24, 2013

blue oval. Shutterstock user Juraana

Ryan writes:

OK, so the granddaddy of oval car logos must be the Ford blue oval, but they sure do have a lot of imitators. So, how about a Vellum Venom on Comparative Oval Logos in the Automotive Industry? Or if you don’t like this pitch, maybe put Sanjeev on it. I bet he’d do this article.

Here’s the logos I can think of right now, all horizontal ovals:

  • Ford
  • Subaru
  • Kia
  • Hyundai
  • Toyota (the modern tri-oval T logo)
  • Daewoo
  • Infiniti
  • Scion
  • (Don’t forget Lexus and Land Rover – SM)

An oval (technically these logos are all ellipse-shaped, but nobody calls it the “blue ellipse”) is a pretty basic shape, but when I think of other corporate logos, I don’t see a lot of horizontal ovals (round logos? Yes, both in and out of the car industry). Even the proportions of these logos all seem pretty close (though Ford looks like the widest of the bunch).

Sajeev answers:

That Sanjeev jerk didn’t spend a year at The College of Creative Studies honing his immense drawing skills into an…ummm…dammit, he gets no airtime in this series!

Now, you have a very valid point: corporations be rippin’ off the Ford logo like whoa.

But it’s wiser to go Ford Oval instead of something potentially displeasing to the buying public, even though I can’t stand the copycat-ism either. Yet I found myself “under the influence” in CCS’ design studios.  The worst was a front fascia I made similar to a GEN I Prius, with a more exaggerated snout.  It was the first rendering of my second semester at CCS. And the result? Scorn? Shame and ostracization?

Nope.  People were kinda quiet, instead of openly critical.  Others, those I considered friends, said, “Whatever you did over Christmas break, it’s working! You are really getting the hang of it now!” Even my normally harsh teacher mentioned my progress.

It was bittersweet, as this wasn’t my best work. Even if it was…

So what’s the problem?  Design studios are all about concept inbreeding: if GM (Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell) does it, why not do the same as their cross-town rival? Fame and fortune await!  Or maybe we’ll hire their design honcho for ourselves (KIA), reaping even more fortune! As Grandmaster Flash said in the link above:

“Cause it’s all about the Money, ain’t a damn thing Funny.

You got to have a con in this land of Milk and Honey.”

[Image: Shutterstock user Juraana]

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63 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: Ovoid Fixation Edition?...”

  • avatar

    I’d like to comment, but I’m too distracted by that photo of my mayor.

    God bless us, every one.

  • avatar

    My understanding is that KIA intentionally did a logo the same shape as Ford’s to make it easy to rebadge the cars they were making for them. Don’t remember where I read that, though.
    Hyundai’s logo seems to be about the same, possibly for the same reason once they tied in with KIA?

    • 0 avatar

      Makes sense, since Kia built the Festiva for Ford.

      Ah rats; I thought this was going to be an analysis of the 1995-1999 Taurus….

    • 0 avatar

      In late 1997, Ford spun off its heavy truck division to Freightliner, a subsidiary of Daimler. The acquired division was sold under a newly developed brand called Sterling and its logo was exactly proportioned to match the shape of the Ford blue oval for rebadging purposes. (Production of Sterling trucks ceased about five years ago.)

      (This more recent Sterling should not be confused with the first U.S. truck manufacturer originally called Sternberg, which began in Wisconsin in 1907, became known as Sterling about 1914, and was later merged with White in 1951. The original line of Sterling trucks were no longer produced after 1953.)

  • avatar

    Logos are a funny thing, Chevrolet with the bow-tie supposedly borrowed from a wallpaper pattern on a hotel room wall in Europe.

    Has any company had as many logo variations as Chrysler? Fratzog, Penstar, Blue Ribbon, “winged” blue “Chrysler”…

    • 0 avatar

      Being a Mopar guy with a ’63, I gravitate to the Fratzog. Got it on the hood and trunk. The one on the truch rotates up and has the key lock for the trunklid.

      • 0 avatar

        A quick look at the Google images shows that the Fratzog descended from a star of David. The current Ram symbol appears to be similar to an inverted Fratzog, which in turn resembles a vagina/cervix/fallopian tube image. Wow!

    • 0 avatar

      They used a “coat of arms” logo at one time too

      • 0 avatar

        Who remembers the old Plymouth logo? (Remembers it well enough to not have to look it up in an internet search… step away from your keyboards and your mice, B&B.)

        • 0 avatar

          sadly, all the Plymouth logo’s are old now.

        • 0 avatar

          Uhhh ….. was it the three masted ship????

          • 0 avatar

            The MAYFLOWER because Plymouth, get it…

            Pontiac’s arrowhead was pretty consistent after they abandoned Chief Pontiac. Living in the great southwest though a few of my friends who happened to be Native American thought they could have sold more Pontiacs if they had kept the lighted head. But of course they would have considered it some sort of ironic statement. Like the trucks I see with chrome Cleveland Indians front plates. I don’t think there are that many Indians fans in New Mexico/Arizona.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re confusing Chrysler Corporation and Chrysler Brand.

      Fratzog was for the Dodge division of Chrysler.

      Pentastar has been in use as a Corporate Logo as well as brand logo for Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth.

      Chrysler Brand for quite some time used a form of the blue ribbon logo(except for the 1980’s), until it was phased out into what is it today.

  • avatar

    The last time we had an original logo was Inifiniti and everyone laughed at it, so they changed it to an oval shaped thing that no one cares about.

  • avatar

    Please don’t bag on my beloved bow tie ! .


  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    As much as I loathe, despise, and f*rt in the general direction of gubmit motors, I always have thought the Chevy bowtie was one of the best emblems evah.

  • avatar

    AvtoVAZ went to an oblong for ease of rebadging too. It’s all over the world now. Do keep in mind that the bowtie can easily be placed onto an oblong base. Pretty soon the only ones left will be Honda, Jeep, and Citroen.

  • avatar

    Change in logo: TTAC.

  • avatar

    Hold on- so far, everybody has forgotten a couple of companies that have used an oval logo.

    Anybody remember the late ’90s Oldsmobile logo or the Mazda logo (Especially the older one)?

    • 0 avatar

      Disaster IMHO. The old Rocket was highly recognizable. The last Oldsmobile logo looked like the bastard child of the Lexus and Mercury Logos.

      • 0 avatar

        I have to say that I completely agree. Oldsmobile went from producing cars that were similar to comfortable, nice Buicks to making imitation Grand Am’s.

        I know I’ll start a war saying this, but I’ve always felt that the newer Pontiac’s were cheap and plasticky. Of course, I own a 2000 Impala as a project- cheap and plasticky seems to be the design cues for most GM cars of the era.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Why should it start a war? You speak the truth. Beside the G8, G6 and GTO, Pontiac had done very little to redeem itself in over 30 years, from a design standpoint. And I say that as an avid GM fan….

          • 0 avatar

            Plasticky as it was, the 97-03 Grand Am is still a better looking car than its somewhat awkwardly proportioned predecessor.

        • 0 avatar

          Pontiac had only one direction to go after the early 90’s.

          I’d rather drive my father’s Oldsmobile than a Pontiac from this era (Save the Bonneville).

          Out here, the Grand Am commands a price premium, but an Oldsmobile Alero can be found for peanuts.

    • 0 avatar

      Which older Mazda logo? I remember seeing three different ones.

  • avatar

    Sanjeev!!! Merry Xmas my brotha!!

  • avatar


  • avatar

    This is a fun thread ;

    For us geezers it’s an instant trip down memory lane with ‘ Triple Diamond ‘ IHC logos , Nash logos and yes , The Mayflower ship that proudly adorned the hoods of older Plymouths for decades . there were ” Mayflower ” model designations too .

    One of my very favorites was my ’54 Pontiac Super Chief Coupe , the amber Chief head on the hood , lit up once I’d replaced the tiny bulb and polished it .

    Thanx for the memories .


    • 0 avatar

      That Nash badge was neat, with its heraldic look. I had the fortune of seeing a “bathtub” Nash this past summer, what a neat looking car. Think it was a Statesman, but it might have been an Ambassador.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I always thought companies did matching ovals for all of their brands (Toyota/Lexus/Scion…Hyundai/Kia) so that they could share airbag covers and such. Of course, that kind of thing is frowned-upon nowadays.

    Also, earlier today, I was trying to figure out which Nissan was the first one to debut the brand’s current logo. Was it the 2002 Altima?

    • 0 avatar

      What? Like Aston Martin in the early 90s using Ford airbag covers (the rectangular version) with a stick on badge over the inset Ford oval? Classy.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        They did? Wow. Well, that’s worse than the original DB7, which was based on the Jaguar XJS, and was therefore deemed “The Jag in Drag”. It’s even worse than the time when Aston Martin was covering Volvo key fobs with leather and calling them their own…

  • avatar

    Circle = psychologically conveys trust

    Oval = psychologically conveys BROAD TRUST!!!

  • avatar

    The latest Grand Theft Auto games have a parody of Ford in it. It’s Vapid motors and their logo is a red logo with Vapid in script. Many of the cars do look like their real life Ford counterparts, the Dominator is a S197 Mustang, the Stanier sedan is a Crown Victoria, the newest police cruiser is a Taurus Police Interceptor (though in the game it’s RWD) and their others too.

    Though if I recall, Grand Theft Auto 3’s police cruisers had blue ovals in the grille, those were kind of like a cross between a ’96 Caprice and a similar vintage Crown Victoria.

    • 0 avatar

      GTA Vice City’s cruisers and regular taxis were clearly Fox platform LTDs as well. Dunno why when taxi fleets and police departments used more Crown Vics, but that’s the way it is.

  • avatar

    Never cared for Toyota’s intersecting oval ‘T’. Always thought it looked out of place on a truck. Anyway, by far the best oval shaped automotive logo has to be the red Peterbilt insignia.

  • avatar

    You also have to look at the age of the design. Of all the logos Ford’s is the oldest and the most stable of them all. Toyota, Scion, Lexus are the newest and the most “modern”. Scion and Lexus are made to reflect Toyota, of course. Most of the GM division logos seem to be based on a square to reflect the GM square I assume. Since the logos are not the most modern with Chevy being the oldest unchanged logo it must be revisionist history.

    I would expect most of it comes down to packaging. A logo is only meant to be shorthand for the brand/corp. It needs to bring forth through iconography whatever the company wants us to think with as few fripperies as possible while staying unique. Circles and ovals are ready made medallions, easily able to provide a nice frame for contents without looking awkward, and pretty cheap to reproduce well.

    Ronny should chime in on how easy it is to embroider Ford stuff versus some of the other brands.

  • avatar

    Hate to be pedantic, but I shall be. You forgot:
    -Great Wall
    The first Ford logo to be an oval was used in 1912 until 1927, when it became blue. I believe Bugatti used the same logo in 1910 as it does today, predating the not-yet blue oval by 2 years.

  • avatar
    XYGTHO Phase3

    I reckon there’s also something to do with an oval badge scaling up or down better.

    For example, when Holden started bringing in rebadged Daewoos to Australia, it was obvious the spot for the badge was really designed for the Chevy bowtie (or something short and long). When they forced the Holden badge into such a small space, it ended up looking (IMO) stupidly small…

    An oval badge would still be small, true, but would still look better I think…

  • avatar

    Circle – Vauxhall, Skoda, Saab, Holden

    Is Mazda considered an oval?

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