Whether you're a car enthusiast or a casual passenger, most immediately recognize the bow tie logo that is used to signify the Chevrolet brand of automobiles and trucks. The symbol has become iconic throughout the decades since the brand first launched its first vehicles. Here is the story behind the century old history of the Chevrolet logo.
Popular theories and speculations about the Chevy logo
There isn't really a bona fide set in stone explanation about how the Chevy bowtie became the symbol of the brand. Although it's easy to recognize and it conjures images of Chevy you've either ridden in or owned, there aren't many who know the original stories associated with the Chevy logo. Those who appreciate the histories within the auto industry however, are familiar with the information that has been passed down from one generation to the next.
The Coalettes theory
The first Chevy emblem was showcased in 1913. William C. Durant, the founder of the company was looking for a logo that would stick in the memory of customers. According to William's widow, he was reading the newspaper and he saw an advertisement for "Coalettes." This was a coal product and it was advertised with a bowtie emblem that he liked. It's been rumored that he borrowed the Chevy logo from this advertisement.
The Paris Theory
The second theory recounts the days when Mr. Durant visited Paris. He was looking for a suitable logo and he spied a design that he liked very much. It was printed on the wallpaper of a hotel that he was staying at. He ripped a piece of the wallpaper loose to bring an example of the design back home, and it is said that this is where he received inspiration for the Chevy bowtie log.
The Newspaper Theory
Mr. Duran's daughter had written her memoirs and in them she described her own version of how the Chevy bowtie was created. Ms. Durant stated that her dad enjoyed doodling. It was during this process that he sketched the design for the Chevy bowtie logo.
Why are there so many speculations about the logo origin?
We have three different stories about where the Chevrolet bow tie logo originated. We can confirm that it is a design that was created, or at least borrowed and settled upon by Mr. William C. Durant himself. It's interesting that both his wife and daughter offered different versions of the story. Mr. Durant also offered an explanation himself.
It is believed that both of the women were sincere in their beliefs about the bowtie logo origins, however, it's easy to make a mistake if there wasn't a concrete conversation about it between them and Mr. Durant. It's likely that each credible retelling has grains of truth but that William's wife and daughter had not actually discussed the story with him. Another explanation is that Mr. Williams actually did doodle the sketch of the logo on a scrap of paper, but he may have been inspired by the Paris wallpaper design. When it comes right down to it, the most logical story to believe is the one that is told by Chevy's founder.
Durant confirmed the origin of the Chevy bowtie logo
When Durant laid claim to the bowtie logo, his company had been in business for two years. The Chevrolet automaker officially launched in 1911 and it produced vehicles for two years before the official logo was adopted. Mr. Durant's recount of how he came to adopt the bowtie logo was confirmed by him in 1961 when Chevrolet officially celebrated the company's 50th anniversary of being in business. He shared the story of the Paris wallpaper with a reporter who wrote a story titled "The Chevrolet Story."
Could it be that all three stories are accurate?
Since the Chevrolet story happened a long time ago, it's difficult to confirm or to deny who has the story right. It's entirely possible that all three of them are related. Perhaps Mr. Durant was taken with the design that he saw on the wallpaper at the hotel in France. He may have also seen a similar shape again in the newspaper advertising Coalettes. It is entirely possible that he had been musing over the logo for some time, and found himself doodling it at the dinner table as his daughter watched on. We do know that William shared the story about how the logo came into existence and since he's the founder of the company who made the final approval we'll go with that version of the history of the Chevy bowtie logo.
The logo has evolved over time
The original bowtie logo has maintained its same basic shape, but it has taken on several different forms throughout the years. It's been presented in gold, blue, red, and a variety of different colors and styles. The emblem, however presented has always been easy to recognize as the official badge of Chevrolet.
The mystery of the Chevy bowtie logo is proof that history is very much in the eyes of the beholder. It can be altered by those who retell the fact that took place decades ago. In this case, a century of time separates us from those events. It's likely that the story Mr. William C. Durant shared about where he came up with the idea for the Chevy bowtie log is the accurate one. Still, we love a good mystery and we enjoy speculation and asking about the what ifs. It's a unique and interesting history that contains elements of the things that keep us wondering, including what it might have been like to live back in the days when Chevy was a fledgling company, before it became the giant in the automotive industry that it is today.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee