Behind the Badge: Studying DeLorean’s DMC Insignia Design Takes Us Back in Time
Iconic "Back the the Future" car recognizable for its steel body and badge
Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated, abstract badge on your automobile’s grille to identify what it is. Sometimes three simple letters are all it takes.
Known for its brushed stainless steel panels, gull-wing doors, and slanted wedge design, the DMC-12 became legendary through its appearance in 1985’s Back to the Future. Despite only 9,000 having been produced–with about 2/3 still around today–the unique vehicle has gained worldwide popularity. After all, who hasn’t seen that recognizable rectangular grille rushing at them at 88 mph–on the television screen?
Why We Love the DeLorean’s DMC Emblem
The DeLorean logo is deceptively simple. Found as brushed stainless steel letters on the front of the grille, the badge–the letters DMC, representing the DeLorean Motor Company–isn’t just a simple acronym like its oft-compared precursor, the red-letter GMC badge. It’s an example of what can be produced with clever font design that imitates geometric shapes.
Notice that the ‘D’ and ‘C’ letters are identical, flipped horizontally on either side of the ‘M.’ Because of that, the entire badge is symmetrical yet still displays the company’s name. The curved edges of the letters almost make the letters look like U-shaped magnets, fitting for the vehicle’s use of steel. While the design may scream retro-futuristic, so does the rest of the vehicle.
Although it was Detroit-born John Z. DeLorean who designed his dream car, it’s commonly recognized that he didn’t design the company’s logo. One source claims artist Phil Gibson designed it, while another claims it was done by Hector Gomez. Others say New Products Director Chuck Bennington had a big influence on its design, as did Giorgetto Giugiaro, who helped design the car itself. Who actually did is still being debated.
If you ever happen to see images of the early wooden DeLorean DMC-12 prototype, you’ll notice the initials DSV on the grille instead of DMC. The reason? The original conception of the DMC-12 was a sports car with unparalleled safety features. Thus, DSV stood for DeLorean Safety Vehicle. After the prototype was introduced in 1979, that name was quickly scrapped.
Enjoy learning about DeLorean’s ‘DMC’ badge? Check out the rest of our Behind the Badge series examining automotive brand logos!
- Aaron WidmarSenior Editor
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.