Ford's Logo And Reverse Lights Have More In Common Than You Think

This will also tell you the first car to have reverse lamps, so stick around

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Easy! Both were designed by the same guy, Childe Wills. Despite the indignity of being named, basically, “child,” Wills had an interesting career in the early automotive industry, designing both the calligraphic Ford logo and giving humanity that unsung hero of lights, the reversing light.

Wills went to work for Ford quite early on, in 1899, before Henry Ford even had started what would become the Ford Motor Company. While at the earlier Detroit Automobile Company/Henry Ford Company, Wills helped Ford build the famous 999 racer. When Ford actually started Ford as we know it, Wills went with him as chief designer and metallurgist. That’s when he designed the fancy wedding-invitation looking script of the name “Ford” that eventually got stuck in that blue oval that we all know.

Eventually, Wills and Ford’s relationship grew strained, since Ford was kind of an angry, skinny ghoul to many people, and Wills took his severance package and started his own company, Wills Sainte Claire. The company was named for him, duh, and also the Saint Clair river near his new assembly plant. Then he added more ‘e’s because he knows more ‘e’s means more class. I’m sorry, moree classe.


Wills’ cars were innovative and of extremely high quality, to the point that he eventually put himself out of business. But before that happened, he introduced the 1922 Wills Sainte-Claire A-68 Roadster: a 67 HP V8 (with the ability to run on one bank of 4 if needed) that was also the first car to have back-up lights.


It’s said that Willis wanted the backup lights because he’d backed into a few hydrants, and, understandably, was sick of it. The backup light he created is pretty much exactly like what we know today: comes on automatically when reverse is engaged, and casts a nice bright white light to see by.


In fact, the humble and often-ignored back up light is the only rear-mounted light that’s designed to give illumination for the driver, and not just signal other motorists behind you. It’s your unassuming little pal who’s always got your back, and it’s time we gave it some thanks.

(Sources: Wikipedia, Hemmings, How Stuff Works)