Burnin' Dodge (and Chrysler Too)

While this may not be the most Creative Use of Type, there is something to be said for the fascinating history of the logos under the Chrysler Corporation. While this poor car manufacturing giant has not been doing so well lately, it has always been caught in a struggle to remain relevant to the times. When compared to such logos as the one used for Ford (with little change over the past century), Chrysler seems to be blowing in wind. It is fascinating to note just how much these logos have mirrored the aesthetics of the periods in which they were designed. Look at the first logo for Chrysler, which was used up until 1954:

This logo simply oozes antiquity, as Chrysler was trying to give the company a sense of reputability, dependability, and permanence. The type is thin, narrow, and a little reminiscent of art deco design. (The “z’s” above and below the word “Chrysler” were actually used in reference to the name of an early prototype car from a related company). This wax seal was modified various times from 1955 to the early 1980’s, sometimes looking like a coat of arms. In one point during the 1970’s, the Chrysler logo adopted a script font to look trendier. I can’t help but think of the Fender logo and countless others which used script fonts from the 1940’s through 1970’s.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Chrysler adopted a fresher approach to their logo, with the type flowing along a horizontal axis and generally looking more clean and technologically savvy ("Terminator," anyone?).

When Chrysler re-did its logo to better resemble the traditional wax seal logos, it was trying to appeal to the vintage crowd: those looking for nostalgia and Chrysler’s glory days as it was now starting to face fierce opposition from foreign car manufacturers. The type used in these logos was also more traditional, resembling a serif font but without the serifs. If you look at the example below, you might be able to see what I mean.

The current logo for Chrysler is a hybrid of the previous, nostalgic version with the Chrysler Corporation “pentagram.”

Also, because I did it lip service to Dodge in the title of this post, here is the quick overview of the logos used by Dodge (the first logo for the Dodge Brothers has sparked debate as to the origin of the Star of David graphic).