The trophy, designed by Arantzazu García Calderón, has separate pieces of different shapes and materials, symbolizing the seven sponsoring publications. They appear in a parallel and independent arrangement, and represent the figure of a futuristic car only from a frontal perspective.
For most of its long history, the Car of the Year trophy has featured six or seven poppet valves surmounted by the national flags of the contest's sponsoring publications. This trophy, originally designed by Geoffrey Axby, art director of the British Sunday Telegraph magazine, was 'retired' after the 1999 contest and, ackonowledging that the Ducth magazine Autovisie and its former editor Fred van der Vlugt established the Car of the Year award, it was entrusted to the Dutch National Automobile Museum in Raamsdonksveer.
The replacement in 2000 was an L-shaped Steel sculpture depicting an stylised speeding car with the original Car of the Year logo prominent on its end-plate. It was the work of UK designer Dean Arthurs. In 2004, it was introduced a new trophy, in marble and coloured metals, created by Emmanuel Zurini, a French artist known by his fine automotive sculptures.
For 2016, the trophy, designed by Liz Pike and manufactured by the company Special EFX, took form in a three-tier prism with its top in jet-black crystal. An individual trophy has been presented each year from 2000 and kept in perpetuity by the winning manufacturer.