A couple years ago I shared some photos I’d taken of the typography on classic cars. It seems like such a minor detail, but obvious design work went into a lot of that lettering. Here’s another crop of interesting car badges, from the 2015 Mecum Spring Classic.
Chrysler could be very creative with the badges on their Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars. The lettering here is typical of this era of Plymouth, but arranging it in a circle around this logo was interesting and creative. This badge sits right in front of the hood of a 1971 Plymouth GTX.
I’ve always been a fan of this badge, and its placement on the sail panel of the 1969 Dodge Charger creates this interesting photo angle. I’ve shot this over and over again on various Chargers.
Sometimes a badge identifies the engine underhood. It often means that the engine is something special. The 428 cubic inch engine inside this 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix was Pontiac’s biggest and most powerful engine that year.
In the ’60s, Pontiac led the way in automotive design — right down to their badging. This typeface girded the flanks of all full-sized Pontiacs in the late 60s. It’s hard to get individually affixed letters to always be straight, but only the o is off, and then just slightly, on this 1967 Pontiac Bonneville.
Early imported Japanese cars had badging that looked just weird to American eyes. These badges from a 1967 Toyota Crown Deluxe are a clashing mashup of styles.
So let’s take comfort in the strong, purposeful lettering on this 1965 Ford Custom. The car is just as square-jawed as these letters.
Here’s another great ’60s Pontiac badge, from a 1960 Pontiac Catalina. Does anybody put badges on the sides of cars anymore? They all seem to be only on the trunk lid.
Sometimes you even find interesting lettering inside a car. This is the steering wheel hub of a 1958 Dodge Coronet Super. In those days, power steering was kind of a big deal.
Here’s a badge on the outside of that 1958 Dodge Coronet Super. Notice that lowercase e, styled like the lowercase Greek letter epsilon.
You see it a lot in 1950s typography, and not just on Chrysler products like this 1950 Plymouth Belvedere. My mom, a child of the ’50s, liked this lowercase e so much that she adapted it into her handwriting. I’ve seen few others write their small e that way, but when I do encounter someone who does, he or she is always of my mom’s generation.
A selfie! From the wheel cover of a 1936 Cadillac Series 75. Cadillac lettering always tries to express elegance and exclusivity.
These letters flanking a 1940 Buick Roadmaster express a modern style at the end of the art-deco era.
Look: there’s that epsilon-styled lowercase e again, but this time on the running board of a 1922 Overland.
To see many, many more photos like these, check out my Autotypography set on Flickr.
Last updated on 3 March 2020 by Jim Grey