The design shown at the top of the page is an adaptation of the original winged logo which Chrysler used on its cars at its inception in 1925. The logo was revived for the Chrysler division in the mid-1990s, and was surrounded by a pair of silver wings after the Daimler-Benz merger in 1998.
In 1963, the company had switched over to a star design which became known as the Pentastar (right) and was extensively used on dealer signage, advertisements, and promotional brochures. Contrary to popular belief, it was not designed to symbolize the five divisions of the corporation at the time, Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial and Airtemp (Chrysler’s HVAC division). By 1963 there were only two auto divisions in the United States: Chrysler-Plymouth and Dodge. There were over a dozen other divisions in the Chrysler Corporation family, and management desired a symbol that all divisions could use.
Then-Chrysler head Lynn Townsend was looking for a symbol that could be used by all divisions on packaging, stationery, signage, advertising, etc. He wanted something that would be universally recognizable as “Chrysler” to anyone who saw it, from any perspective, from any culture. Chrysler’s trademark symbol, the Pentastar, was simple and easily recognizable from any perspective, even in motion on revolving signs. The symbol also facilitated Chrysler’s expansion in the international market by removing the need to translate any text that is commonly used on logos.
Thus all divisions of Chrysler adopted the Pentastar. All car brands (Valiant, Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam, Singer, Simca), truck brands (Fargo, DeSoto, Dodge, Commer, Karrier), and all the other Chrysler divisions (air conditioning systems, heating, industrial engines, marine engines, outboard motors, boats, transmissions, four-wheel drive systems, powdered metal products, adhesives, chemical products, plastics, electronics, tanks, missiles) and services (leasing, finance and Mopar) were identified by the Pentastar. It united the firm’s various products and services in the public’s eye.
The Pentastar appeared consistently but inconspicuously on the lower passenger-side fender of all Chrysler products, including foreign brands, from 1963 into the mid-1970s. It was placed on the passenger-side fender so it could be viewed by passers-by, a subtle method of getting the symbol ingrained in the public’s mind. A nameplate has to be read, but a symbol is recognizable even to the illiterate. Thus North American and French cars had the Pentastar on the right fender and British on the left. The practice was revived in the 1990s. Beginning in 1981, the Pentastar replaced individual logos that had been used by Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler and had in some cases identified individual models, such as the Chrysler New Yorker. The Chrysler brand used a gem-like version of the Pentastar to identify its more upscale status, and its Imperial models employed a combination of the Pentastar and winged icon. Dodge trucks and vans also used the ram hood ornament in place of the Pentastar.
In order to differentiate the brands, Chrysler began phasing out the Pentastar in 1993. The Chrysler brand revived the original gold logo in 1994, eventually adopting the full winged logo it had used until the 1950s. Dodge adopted the ram logo beginning with the 1993 Intrepid, and in 1996, Plymouth debuted a new sailboat logo, which was a simplified version of the brand’s pre-Pentastar ship logo. The Pentastar’s last badging appearance was on the steering wheel and keys of the Chrysler minivans produced from 1996 through 2000 as well as on certain vehicles (although the word CHRYSLER appeared on the steering wheel on some vehicles).
Among the few remaining traces of this motif, is a large, star-shaped window at DaimlerChrysler’s American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and Pentastar Aviation, a former DaimlerChrysler subsidiary which reverted to its original name after being purchased, ironically, by a member of the Ford family. Many dealerships still have signage and other traces still visually apparent to the Pentastar.
Today, the Pentastar still makes a few relatively inconspicuous appearances on Chrysler Group cars and trucks in markings on window glass and on individual components and molded-plastic assemblies. As the Mopar parts division has also now changed its logo (to use a stylized ‘M’), the Pentastar is a fading relic of the pre DaimlerChrysler years.