Mopar and Mopar logos: an illustrated history
Chrysler bought Dodge Brothers in 1928, partly to obtain a large enough plant to support Plymouth. With the increased size and complexity of the company — Dodge Brothers was larger than all of Chrysler combined — there was a clear need for a dedicated parts manufacturer, supplier, and distributor. Thus was born the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation (CMPC) in 1929.
From 1933 to 1937, CMPC used a circle surrounding the letters D,C,P, and D, for Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, and DeSoto; the P was clearly larger than the others, representing Plymouth's size and importance.
During that time, sales promotion manager Nelson I. Farley created a group (the Activities Council) to generate new merchandising ideas. In 1937, the Activities Council came up with a new name for marketing antifreeze, by combining the words Motor and Parts: Mopar. It was quickly trademarked and a logo was commissioned.
The first design, penned by Burke Bartlett, was bright purple, in the shape of a downward-pointing arrow; Nelson Farley turned it down, disliking both the arrow and the purple.
While the logo was being brainstormed, the Activities Council created a character, Mr. Mopar, in the form of a camel — to fit with the Chrysler float in the national Shriners convention in Detroit. The float was made of engine parts; it was pulled by the camel, and “led” by a mechanical man, Accy (for accessory), who had been made by Vern Dupuis from various parts. Eleven years later, in 1948, Dupuis himself was in the merchandising group; he modified Accy to speak and move, and renamed him Mr. Mopar. Eventually, a newer version of the robot appeared on television.
The logo, meanwhile, appeared in a form acceptable to Farley — a roughly oval badge/seal design — and it was used in that form from 1937 to 1947, at which point it was modernized, with purple making a return. Over the years, it would be simplified and modernized again, numerous times.
At some point after the war, Chrysler dropped its own depots and went back to using wholesalers. But, as the company dropped into sales troughs, executives realized that aftermarket sales could provide a sales cushion for bad years. In 1964, Chrysler dropped its wholesalers and returned to the depot system, with 18 depots at the area, regional, and national levels. In 1965, the company used a parts group to distribute to dealers, and an independent aftermarket group going through franchised warehouse distributors (these would be dropped by 1972). Coinciding with this change, in 1964, Chrysler stopped printing the names of all of their brands in the Mopar logo, dropped the oval theme, and moved to the word MOPAR in block letters, with the stylized “M” above it.
The “Omega M” logo rationale was created by George Robinson at the age of 31; he lived in Troy, Michigan, at the time. Craig Robinson wrote in to say that:
While working as marketing manager for Chrysler, George Robinson was asked to design a new logo and packaging line for the new products that Chrysler was going to introduce into the auto aftermarket, outside the traditional dealer distribution. This new program included parts other than Chrysler parts, for all makes and models, which were to incorporate this new logo. George Robinson, a graduate of Pratt Institute, worked as an industrial designer and had marketing and packaging skills. Presently he is retired after a long and successful career as a prolific graphic designer and innovator.
George Robinson himself wrote,
In the 1960s, automotive companies were attempting to expand their captive parts business into new markets, specifically the growing independent aftermarket. General Motors had recently done so with their “Delco” parts brand. A clean contemporary look prevailed, reflecting the newness of their marketing strategy.
This concept was applicable to Chrysler, who had the same objective...a new program whose intended distribution was not only in the traditional Chrysler dealership program but also in the new independent aftermarket. The same product for both markets under a new look, thus the “Mopar” logo.
In designing a new image for this broad market, a mechanical, contemporary concept was desired, different from any past letter or word. The “circle” implied the shelf impact in look, evolving into the “rolling M,” as it was termed, and remains unchanged to date.
This would be the most durable company logo, starting in 1964 and continuing on to the present day.
Mopar now sold racing parts as well as replacement parts, and created a Mopar Performance Parts division to accommodate the new direction. They sold some unique parts developed in-house, and some parts from vendors which had been tested well beyond typical aftermarket standards. There were also package cars based on the 1962 Plymouth Belvedere and Dodge Dart; these cars continued to be launched until 1968’s Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Dart Hemi Super Stock cars, and the performance parts continued to be made and sold.
In 1972, the company gave Mopar another new logo, used through 1984; it reflected the Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth dealership signs, with a white pentastar in a blue rectangle block on top, Mopar printed in a white space in the middle, and an empty red bar underneath. This was the first use of the Pentastar with the Mopar logo.
The next logo arrived in 1985, a modernized version with a larger word “Mopar,” printed in blue with a pentastar-in-a-square and "Chrysler Corporation Genuine Parts" underneath in white over a red or blue bar.
In 1987, Mopar’s Direct Connection brand was renamed to Mopar Performance Parts.
Starting in 1991, the lower part was simplified, becoming “Chrysler Corporation Parts” in a regular line (rather than white-on-color). For 1998, the words “Chrysler Corporation” were omitted, and the word "PARTS" stood in white against a blue line under the still-unchanged, spelled-out Mopar logo and pentastar. Finally, in 2002, the current form appeared, reverting to the 1964-1971 design except in blue, with a larger Mopar symbol and a smaller word “Mopar.”
In 2009, the Mopar brand launched its first branded car, the race-only 2009 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak (officially, a Dodge); a 2010 version was also made, and in 2011 the Mopar Challenger V10 Drag Pak was launched. The first Mopar-branded car to be sold at retail was the Mopar ’10 Challenger, followed by the Mopar ’11 Charger, with additional special editions coming at intervals.