TV Mopars

Tales of Midland Avenue

1951-64 Plymouth Savoy

Chrysler’s Pentastar

chrysler sign, 1998In 1962, Chrysler created a new “Corporate Identity Office,” which was “concerned with the manner in which the company identifies and visually presents itself and its products to the public.”

The GM “mark of excellence” may have been part of their inspiration. In any case, Chrysler asked the design firm Lippincott & Marguiles to fill the gap, and got 800 proposed designs. They chose one: the Pentastar.

Why that particular symbol?

Robert Stanley, its creator, wrote, “We were looking for something that would not be too complicated for people to remember and still have a very strong, engineered look to it. We wanted something people could look at and say, ‘This was not done freehand.’”

pentastars

Stanley also wrote that he wanted “something simple, a classic, dynamic but stable shape for a mark that would lend itself to a highly designed, styled product.

“What that meant, basically, was a classic geometric form. We wanted something that was not stolid. That’s the reason that we broke up the pentagonal form that became the Pentastar. It provides a certain tension and a dynamic quality.”

inside the CTC

The Pentastar started showing up in ads with the 1963 model year; and was embossed onto the front cover of the 1962 Annual Report, and on the back cover, printed in a deep blue. Prior to that, the corporate logo was a pair of V-shapes, usually shown pointing to the right, part of Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” school of design.

pentastar on annual report

After initial production of the 1963s, Pentastar emblems were placed behind the right front wheels. Charlie Pfefferkorn, whose family owned Spaulding’s Garage, said that dealers were sent a Pentastar medallion kit for each 1963 car shipped before the factory started using them. Spaulding’s didn’t install them on cars they had already sold — Charlie said it would have been absurd to call customers and tell them they needed to bring their cars in for a bit of trim.

pentastar location

The original Pentastars came with not one but two grips — the second, smaller pin was not just for location but also for extra grip (as shown in the photos.) The 1964 cars had Pentastar key blanks as well, a tradition that remained until “radio keys.”

The tradition of mounting pentastars on the passenger-side fender (and not the driver’s side continued well into the 1970s, was dropped during the 1980s, and came back during the 1990s, only to be dropped again.

Is there another meaning?

In 1963, Bob Hope’s TV show (sponsored by Chrysler Corporation) had opening graphics showing the segments of the Pentastar zooming into place with vroom-vroom noises, each piece accompanied by a callout of a brand - Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, and Dodge trucks.

chrysler logoDespite the ad, Bill Watson wrote noted that the five points do not stand for the five car divisions; at the time, Chrysler sold cars (Valiant, Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, Hillman, Sunbeam, Singer, Humber, Simca), trucks (Dodge, Fargo, DeSoto, Commer, Karrier, Barreiros), industrial and marine engines, boats, tanks, air conditioners, heating systems, chemicals, plastics, missiles, electronics, and financial products. 

A Chrysler press release noted:

CTC 2007The Pentastar was created in 1962 when Chrysler Corporation President Lynn Townsend decided the company needed a new symbol to represent all of the corporation’s brands. Townsend wanted a symbol with a strong, classic look that would be instantly recognizable, but was universal—without written words—allowing it to be used in all countries and across many cultures.... [Robert] Stanley also created the former blue color scheme for the symbol, and the name for the design.

Revised pentastar

After being dropped as a corporate symbol by Daimler, the pentastar returned in 2007 with modifications by Trevor Creed, who fused the ends of the five triangles to enclose the star, created a “3-D” look, and added a “brush” texture.

“We wanted to give the mark a look of extremely high quality,” Creed said. “We closed up the gaps in geometric unity and added a sense of solidity that gave the star shape a much slimmer, high-quality, precise appearance.”

creed pentastar

Steven Landry, head of North American sales, service, and parts, said, “The Pentastar represents all the pride that employees feel for the 82-year -history of Chrysler and the confidence we have in our new direction... Even during the past decade, the Pentastar never disappeared. The Pentastar literally towered over the company and employees [on top of the CTC], and has been a source of pride.”

In 1996, the company’s new headquarters in Auburn Hills included an office tower crowned by a two-story-high glass Pentastar. After the 1998 takeover by Daimler, the Pentastar was removed as the corporate symbol, and rumor has it that Daimler executives demanded to have it removed from the office tower, but that the cost was high enough to be scandalous.

The Pentastar remained the corporate symbol of Chrysler Group, but was never again to be included on new dealership signs. It was de-emphasized somewhat as time went on.


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TV Mopars Tales of Midland Avenue 1951-64 Plymouth Savoy