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Chevrolet Bow Tie Celebrates 100 Years

Stephanie Davies Jul 22, 2013
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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the signature Chevy Bow Tie, which first appeared on the front of the 1914 Chevrolet H-2 Royal Mail and H-4 Baby Grand. Co-founder William C. Durant is responsible for the 1913 introduction of the symbol, which has adorned 214 million Chevy vehicles over the past century.

 Chevrolet Bowtie 2/13

Sixty million Chevys are on the road across the globe today, with a car, crossover, or truck sold every 6.39 seconds in one of 140 countries. The anniversary is marked by such new vehicles as the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel compact sedan in the United States and the Trax compact SUV in 40 international markets.

"The Chevrolet 'Bow Tie' is recognized around the world and has become synonymous with American ingenuity," said Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Mahoney. "Whether you're pulling thousands of pounds through rocky terrain in a Silverado pickup or commuting in a Spark EV, Chevrolet's 'Bow Tie' will always be at the very front of your travels."

 Chevrolet SeriesH BabyGrand 01 Medium 3/13

So where did the famous Bow Tie emblem come from? No one really knows the answer to that question. Some say that Durant was inspired by a wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel, while his widow, Catherine, said the design is owed to a newspaper advertisement he saw while vacationing in Hot Springs, Virginia, in 1912. She claims that Durant noticed the design and exclaimed, "I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet." Unfortunately, she never explained what the advertisement was for or how the emblem was used. His daughter has offered yet another alternative explanation.

Durant's daughter, Margery, claimed in her 1929 book that her father sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table. She wrote, "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," she wrote.

 Chevrolet Bowtie Medium 4/13

However, Catherine Durant's explanation inspired historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, Ken Kaufmann, to search out its validity. He found that in the November 12, 1911 edition of Atlanta's The Constitution newspaper, a Southern Compressed Coal Company advertisement appeared for "Coalettes," a refined fuel product for fires. The logo, which was published in the advertisement featured a slanted bow tie form - strikingly similar in shape to the Chevrolet icon.

The paper Kaufmann found was dated just nine days after the establishment of Chevrolet Motor Company, and Chevy's first use of the Bow Tie appeared in the October 2, 1913 edition of The Washington Post with the words "Look for this nameplate" above the symbol. So what do you think? Could Durant and his wife have seen the same ad (or one similar) the following year in a state just a bit north 100 years ago? The world may never know.

 Chevrolet Bowtie Medium 5/13



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