These days, a company called Vaughtons makes Aston Martin's feathered double-pennon. Located in Birmingham, England, the 200-year-old company started as a "buttonmaker, medallist, and mint," according to reports -- and was the original supplier of badges to Rolls-Royce. (It also had contracts with Jensen and Lotus.)
Vaughtons sends roughly 2,000 components, including some badges, to Aston Martin weekly. The badges are handmade through stamping raw metal in a machine press, heating and reheating it, die-cutting it, painting glass-like enamel coloring into the 43 sections of the rough badge, and then polishing it.
Special badges might be finished in a green to match brake calipers, 18-karat gold, even mother of pearl.
At Rolls-Royce, a foundry called Polycast, based in Southampton, England, makes the Spirit of Ecstasy. The icon starts off in wax form, cast into a shape detailed enough to showcase individual strands of hair running down Thornton's back, as well as ripples in her gown. After the wax has cooled, fabricators pour melted steel into the mold. They let it sit for hours, and then polish it with tiny, hand-held sanders to finish. More than 5,500 examples are sent to Goodwood, England, each year.
Bentley, meanwhile, declines to name which company makes its winged B, though Polycast lists Bentley as a current client.
Despite its French heritage, Bugatti commissions Poellath, in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria, to make the enamel ovals. Family-owned since its inception in 1778, Poellath has developed a special technique to make the Bugatti Macrons three-dimensional: The Bugatti lettering and miniscule dots at the edge are located and enameled on one plane, while the enameled background sits almost two millimeters lower.