Can you believe that the Chevrolet bowtie logo is more that 100 years old? Introduced by Chevy co-founder William C. Durant in 1913, two years after the company was founded in Detroit in 1911, the bowtie logo has become one of the most iconic symbols in American car culture to date. But, what’s the history behind the longtime logo? Let’s take a look!
As it turns out, there are actually several different accounts of how the Chevrolet logo came to be. The most popular theory was laid out in The Chevrolet Story, an official Chevy publication that was issued in 1961 to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. The authors wrote that the Chevy bowtie was inspired by the wallpaper design that Durant saw in a hotel room in Paris, France.
“It originated in Durant’s imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”
While Durant allegedly confirmed the Paris hotel theory, Durant’s daughter Margery offered a slightly different origin story in the book My Father, which was published in 1929. She says that the idea for the bowtie logo actually came during a doodling session at the family’s dinner table.
“I think it was between the soup and the fried chicken one night that he sketched out the design that is used on the Chevrolet car to this day,” Margery Durant wrote.
A third theory was introduced in the 1986 issue of Chevrolet Pro Management Magazine, which cited a 13-year-old interview of William Durant’s widow, Catherine. In the interview, Catherine claims that Durant was reading a newspaper in the couple’s hotel room in Hot Springs, Virginia, when he noticed an ad for Coalettes, a refined fuel product for fires made by the Southern Compressed Coal company.
“I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet,” Durant apparently exclaimed.
Ken Kaufmann, historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, did some digging into that theory, and interestingly enough, the Coalettes logo does have a strikingly similar bowtie shape to the Chevy logo. How about that?!
There’s even a fourth theory that claims that the Swiss background of race car driver and Chevy co-founder Louis Chevrolet was a driving force behind the logo, which some say is a stylized version of the cross in the Swiss flag.
Whatever the true story is, there’s no denying that the Chevy bowtie emblem has been a cornerstone in the company’s brand identity for more than 100 years. Here’s to another 100!
This post was originally published on June 5, 2020.