Are you as mesmerized with the Cadillac logo as the car itself? Then you’re in the right place at the right time — we will talk about the aesthetic changes that happened to the luxury car’s logo through the years, as well as some of the most important design elements that it has, such as those ducks.
But before we talk about the emblem, let us first discuss one very important thing: the car’s founding.
It was in 1902 when the Cadillac Car Company was founded by Henry Leland. He named his automotive manufacturing after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded the city of Detroit back in 1701. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that the founded Cadillac also decided to use for its logo a crest which, according to Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac, was tied to an old French royalty to which he belonged. However, rumor has it that Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac didn’t really have any connection to any French royalty and that he himself made up the emblem when he married in 1687.
Whether associated with an old French royalty or not, there is no denying that the Cadillac emblem is one of the most iconic car logos in the world of motor vehicles. Ever since Leland stamped it on his cars more than 100 years ago, the badge was redesigned more than 30 times.
Speaking of which, the ducks that were present in the older variants of Cadillac’s logo were some of the most talked-about design elements for some obvious reason: cars and ducks don’t match.
Fact: those were not ducks. Rather they’re called merlettes — mythological birds that didn’t have beaks or feet, and were associated with French heraldry. Those merlettes that everyone referred to as ducks appeared on the logo in threes, which represented the Holy Trinity. What’s more, there were two sets of merlettes around — one set stood for the nobility of the mother’s lineage, and the other set corresponded to the nobility of the father’s lineage.
Other than the merlettes, there were more design staples that made the iconic Cadillac logo, well, iconic. For instance, there’s a seven-pointed crown that depicts the seven ancient counts of France. There was also the laurel wreath that stood for victory and aristocracy. The color stripes, on the other hand, represented the following:
· Gold: riches
· Blue: valor
· Red: boldness
· Silver: virtue
· Black: superiority
Here’s a rundown of the significant changes in the Cadillac logo throughout the car’s history:
· 1906: The Cadillac Car Company was founded in 1902. However, the Cadillac logo became a registered trademark only in 1906. The emblem used before 1906 consisted of a seven-pointed crown adorned with a laurel wreath. It was pretty much the same as the registered design that featured ducks angled down towards the left, as well as a wreath out of tulip-shaped florets angled towards the seven-pointed crown.
· 1908: A year before General Motors purchased the Cadillac Car Company in 1909, the well-loved car manufacturer had a couple of significant things that happened to it in 1908. First, it became the recipient of the Dewar Trophy, which is given to achievers in the British automotive world. Second, the emblem’s design changed into a more graphic one and also featured the car’s slogan: Standard of the World.
· 1916: The badge was redesigned to appear more modern. However, it incorporated a design element that was found in the emblem when it became a registered trademark, and it’s the crown with nine points. Before this, the crown used to have seven points, which, as mentioned earlier, represented the seven ancient counts of France. The nine-pointed crown remained present until 1920 when it was reverted to a seven-pointed crown.
· 1933: During this point in the history of Cadillac cars, models with more streamlined designing came into being. They included the V8, V12, and V16. To make the emblem look more appropriate for these new breeds of Cadillac cars, it featured wings. The new logo’s design remained the same on the radiators of all 1935 Cadillac models. However, in 1934, the manufacturer of the car decided to make the crest detachable.
· 1947: After World War II, newer Cadillac logos started showing up, most of which was in the V design that came with a crest that had everything else in it. Even though it was during this time that the V and crest design was unveiled, the fact is that it was earlier featured in the V8 models’ emblems. A year before, by the way, less than 30,000 Cadillac cars were built due to the post-war material shortages that affected all car manufacturers.
· 1957: It was in 1957 when the Cadillac emblem really started to lean towards a shape that’s longer, lower, and wider. The logo was stretched so long that the crown situated on top of the crest was almost unrecognizable. The significant change in badge’s aesthetics was the car manufacturer’s attempt to follow the trends in terms of logos back then. Not content with the new shape, the designers of the logo made it at its broadest in 1960.
· 1963: For more than 30 years, the wreath and crest emblem that all Cadillac cars were stamped with was present. What’s more, it underwent very little to no changes throughout the years, which served as a testament to the pivotal visual and symbolic role that it played. Back in 2000, however, the wreath and crest emblem underwent an overhaul for a sharper and more chiseled design. The Cadillac logo of today was spawned by those design changes.
· 2014: In 2000, the laurel wreath part of the emblem sported a three-dimensional look to it. Several years later, sadly, the designers at General Motors decided to scrap the redesigned wreath, which circled the crest for a long time, leaving nothing for the eye to behold but the crest. Speaking of which, the crest was also made flatter and wider. It made its debut on the Elmiraj concept car, which was unveiled in Pebble Beach, California.
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