The Trident from the Maserati logo comes in 4th place, unquestionably an iconic symbol in the luxury automotive world, for almost a century now. Since its inception in 1926, the Trident has featured on every single road-going or racing car in Maserati history.
It was created by Mario Maserati and has remained a constant marker throughout the evolution of the Maserati brand and its style. It signifies the exclusive status of Maserati cars and represents their identity as masterful cars of luxury, elegance, and sports car excellence.
Maserati proudly displays the Trident atop its factory offices in Modena, Italy. It was chosen to embody this two-sided spirit, bring forth an intriguing tension: on one side the craftsmanship, refinement, elegance; on the other, a need for adventure, a rebellious spirit, a hunger for performance.
A Badge for the First True Maserati
It was in 1925 that the first World Motor Racing Championship for car manufacturers took place. The following year, three of the five Maserati brothers went to work on their first car, built at their Emilia Levante headquarters in Bologna. They gave it the name Tipo 26, as this was the year of its construction. It was the birth of the first Maserati, so a badge was needed. It was the fifth-born of the Maserati brothers, Mario, that they turned to. He wasn’t interested in cars or motor racing, his love was for the arts. It made perfect sense to ask him to create an image for Maserati, a marker to represent the company and their family name on Italian roads and beyond. Legend has it that Mario was inspired by the statue of Neptune, seen at the end of Piazza Maggiore whilst wandering around Bologna. A lightbulb was lit in Mario’s mind when he saw the three-pronged spear being held by the god of the sea. It was an inspired choice that was well-received by his brothers.
A Debut Fit for a (Sea) King
The Tipo 26 made its very first appearance on 25th April 1926, featuring the famous Trident badge. This day was not only a historic one for the Maserati brothers, but for Italian motor racing too. Alfieri Maserati drove the Tipo 26, with Guerino Bertocchi as his riding mechanic, in the Cargo Florio – a 70-mile course set out on public roads on the island of Sicily. This was the moment that the Trident badge became world-renowned, symbolising quality and victory. The Tipo 26 was red, the colour for Italian racing, and its number was 5. Its engine was powered by a vertical 8-cylinder 1492 cc, generating 120 hp at 5300 rpm. This achieved a top speed of over 112 mph and resulted in Alfieri and Guerino winning their 1500 class, coming in eighth overall. They even beat two Bugattis to the finish line. This initial success bolstered the brothers to immediately start building more Tipo 26s, leading to the car taking its first overall victory at the flying kilometre at Bologna. This time driven by Ernesto Maserati, the Tipo 26 had established its name. Unsurprisingly, the Maserati brothers were inundated with orders from Italian gentlemen for the car.
How the Design Evolved
On the Tipo 26 and other early Maserati cars the badge was rectangular and made from pure silver. The black Trident was placed in the centre of the vertical rectangle badge, with brand’s title beneath. In 1937, the badge’s shape was changed due to the flat, rectangular badge no longer being able to be attached to the now curved radiator shapes: so it became oval.
However, it has also been reported that the new shape was introduced to represent the ellipse section of the chassis tubes that Maserati were using for their Grand Prix cars. This innovative engineering feature made them far stronger than traditional round chassis tubes. Whichever reason is true, this modern and more aerodynamic oval shape has been in use ever since, with only minor stylistic variations made through the years.
As you can see from the pictures below, the logo changed its colours to red first and then added blue — representing the colours Bologna, the city where it came to life. As Maserati created model after model, the design and details of the Trident kept evolving. What has always remained is the Trident design, a thunderbolt that represents the notion of performance and speed. Throughout its evolution, the design has lost its complexity and become more stylised.
1926 – 1937
The first Maserati logo was introduced in 1926, composed of a vertical, silver/grey metal rectangle, with an ornate image of a trident. Despite being almost 100 years old, the trident is similar to the one we know today. The “Maserati” lettering was in all capitals, in the sans-serif typography.
1937 – 1943
In 1937, some pretty big changes were made to Maserati’s logo. The trident was redrawn and greatly simplified, its colour changing to red, atop a red triangle, outlined by a thin, silver border. This border was also around the logo’s oval frame. The wordmark was now white and placed in the red triangle at the bottom of the oval.
1943 – 1951
The Maserati logo changed drastically in 1943, this time swapping a predominant red for a blue background. The shape of the logo changed, with the name of the company becoming much larger, overlapping the trident, which remained red. The text was now in a blue oval and the sans-serif font was shorter.
1951 – 1954
Maserati went back to basics in 1951 and returned to the older version of its logo, especially with the ornate trident. It most resembled the 1937 design, having the red trident placed inside a white oval, above a curved triangle. The main difference was the colour of the triangle, which was blue, as was the thin border around the logo.
The Maserati typography also went back to its taller sans-serif font.
1954 – 1983
The logo was slightly updated in 1954, adjusting the oval to be more pointed, and the blue was a darker shade. The trident became narrower, with the white and blue boarder around the oval becoming more evident.
1983 – 1985
A brief and unusual change happened to the Maserati logo in 1983, featuring a less detailed trident and fewer colours (just blue, white, and black). In hindsight, this version takes away the quality and class that Maserati cars were known for, leading to it being quickly replaced by something similar to the old Maserati logo only 2 years later.
1985 – 1997
Maserati returned to a logo that was almost exactly the same as the one from 1954. The only difference being the wider trident and the tighter text.
1997 – 2006
The Maserati logo changed again in 1997, with the oval elongated and more refined, appearing more delicate than before. In this iteration the trident was a lighter red, and each element of the badge was narrowed. The Maserati lettering also gained a bolder typeface for clearer legibility.
2006 – 2015
The Maserati badge was refined again in 2006, making the oval’s white and blue border smoother and crisper. There was another version that had a more textured, glossy finish, making the badge look voluminous and three dimensional.
2015 – 2020
In 2015, Maserati removed the badge and created a version with just the name and trident, chiefly for branding and marketing purposes. The Maserati trident remains, above the wordmark for the brand, now black and much larger, written in a serif font close to Times New Roman.
2020 – Present
It was in 2020 that Maserati updated its typography choice, making the cursive woodmark sleeker and more elegant.
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