Bulls, horses, tridents, coats of arms, wheels, and propellers; what are all these exotic car logos for, anyway? Find out about each of these signature hood ornaments and badges, when they first appeared and why these emblems were chosen to represent their respective companies.

You will find the recognizable “bowtie” logo design at your local Chevy dealership, but its origins are not clear. It was supposedly inspired by a repeating wallpaper pattern found in a French hotel room where William C. Durant, co-founder of General Motors and Chevrolet stayed. Durant’s wife, however, disputes the claim, noting that the inspiration came from a newspaper ad for Coalettes that displayed the same bowtie outline. Others claim that Louis Chevrolet designed the bowtie as a modified Swiss Cross, to honor his parents’ homeland. Whichever origin story you believe, the bowtie logo has become a recognizable feature on all kinds of vehicles. The color of the logo has changed over the years, going from a royal blue to the gold we regularly find today, even on older used car models.

Mercedes, a division of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), needed a recognizable trademark way back in the early 1900s. DMG founder Gottlieb Daimler passed away in 1900, leaving his sons Paul and Adolf to use their father as inspiration. The two brothers went with the star symbol on their father’s home to represent future prosperity for his growing company. The symbol was well-received by the company’s board in June of 1909, and both the famous three-pointed star that we see today at countless Mercedes dealerships and on the roads, as well as the four-pointed star were registered as trademarks under the Daimler name. The three-pointed star survived as a representation of Daimler’s goal to use their motors to power vehicles on air, land and sea. In 1916, the star was centered within a circle and has since then undergone only minor changes resulting in its current form, a silver star in a silver circle.

Few names in the vast automotive industry carry as much panache and gravitas as the British manufacturer, Bentley Motors. The simple emblem showing a bold “B” surrounded by a set of wings can also be found on the hood ornament in a similar design, with a large capital B and aviary wings that flow backward. The significance of the emblem is the “B” reflecting the Bentley name, after Walter Owen Bentley, who founded the automotive company in 1919. The winged portion of the design is a reference to the original company name, Bentley Aero, as the company originally manufactured rotary engines for planes during World War I.

One of the more original yet simple modern automotive symbols we find frequently on the road is Nissan’s luxury brand, Infinity. The logo utilizes a partial oval surrounding a road that narrows into the distance, or to…infinity. It is a very tasteful and well-designed badge that, thankfully, conveys an actual connection between the brand name and the logo. It is similar to Oldsmobile’s logo, which also has a road heading into the distance, but it veers toward the right. Infiniti has not been around long enough to be considered iconic, with their interesting and meaningful logo, buy their vehicles are on the right track. They offer excellent affordability and their Nissan dealerships are very prevalent in the automotive world.