Inigo S. Roces / AutoIndustriya.com, Wikimedia Commons-Cloverleaf II; -IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine | May 25, 2018 06:41
A more complex origin story of the Toyota Alphard's distinct emblem
It's become such common practice to place a brand's emblem on the facade of a car that when the typical logo is not there, we definitely stop to take notice. That is certainly the case with Toyota's Alphard, launched just recently for the 2018 model year and now bearing its own emblem instead of Toyota's very familiar needle and thread logo.
For car aficionados, this is nothing new. In fact, many cars in the past have borne their own logo, as if to distinguish them from the rest of the cars of the marque.
Easily the most famous of them is the Ferrari Dino. The sports car named after Enzo Ferrari's son is one of the only production Ferrari's not to bear the Cavallino Rampante, the Ferrari shield. This is because at the time of its release it was so different from the typical Ferrari formula of having a large V8 or V12 engine mounted in front. Instead, the Dino had a mid-mounted V6. Today, many call it a Ferrari Dino, but at the time, it was simply called the Dino 246 GT Berlinetta or Targa.
The same has happened to a few Toyotas in the past. Collectors of the Toyota Celica, MR2, Soarer, and Century may be very familiar with the emblems placed on those particular vehicles. Just like the Dino, the Celica featured a Dragon emblem, the MR2 an eagle, the Soarer a griffin, and last but not the least, the Century features a phoenix. Each one was meant to pay tribute to the spiritual inspiration behind the car, in a way, you can say it's the car's spirit animal.
To understand the meaning behind the logo of the Toyota Alphard, a little astrology and mythology lesson is necessary. The Alphard MPV was named after the brightest star in the Hydra constellation of the same name.
Like many other constellations in the night sky, Greek explorers that first discovered these patterns in stars gave them names and stories to make them easy to remember. Because the Hydra constellation was shaped like a snake, it was named so. Legend has it that a crow had attempted to trick the Greek god, Apollo, by offering him water in a cup. That cup also contained a hydra. Apollo, however, saw through this trick and flung the crow, cup, and hydra into the night sky where they still sit to this day.
As many more constellations and the stars that formed them were discovered in the sky, there arose a need to properly catalog and keep a record of them. One of the first people to do this was Johann Bayer in 1603. His system of cataloging constellations and their stars is called the Bayer designation and it's a system we use to this day. With this system, stars are charted according to the constellation they belong to, and in order of brightness, using Greek letters followed by the genitive form of its parent constellation's Latin name. As Alphard is the brightest star in the Hydra constellation, it is scientifically refered to as Alpha Hydrae.
As such, if you take a close look at the Alphard's emblem, it is in fact a stylized version of the first letter of the Greek alphabet, alpha (α). You could also say, it's a hydra shaped like an alpha.