The Chevrolet bowtie is one of the most recognized automotive brands in America today. Since 1913 when William Durant, Chevrolet's co-founder first introduced it, the bowtie has appeared on millions of products, advertisements, and sales literature across the united states. While different styles and colors have come and gone over the years since it was first introduced, the concept behind the logo has remained the same. However, did you know that it is rumored that the American automotive manufacturer stole the iconic symbol?
For almost one hundred years, rumors have flown as to how the symbol came into play with multiple publishing companies featuring stories with speculation as to where the bowtie originated from; the most famous and widely accepted rumor is that Mr. Durant found the symbol while traveling in 1908. Some believe that Mr. Durant, an avid traveler, first saw the symbol on the wallpaper in his hotel room while visiting Paris. They say he then tore a piece of the wallpaper containing the symbol from the wall and took back to show his friends stating that it could one day make an excellent emblem for a car. The Chevy company along with Mr. Durant confirmed this story in a 1961 publication.
There is also still some speculation that the story in a book published in 1929 by Durant’s daughter entitled, “My Father” is indeed how the emblem first appeared. In the book, she stated that he drew the symbol himself out of his imagination in 1929 while sitting at the dinner table in search of potential nameplate ideas. According to Margery, Mr. Durant used to doodle during dinner in search of the perfect nameplate. One evening, between the soup and the fried chicken, he announced to the table that he had finally created the design that has been used on the Chevrolet car to this day.
While both could be plausible, others say they believe Mrs. Durant and her account of the story that the now iconic emblem was found in an illustrated newspaper in 1912 while the family was vacationing in Hot Springs, Virginia. According to Mrs. Durant in an interview by Lawrence R. Gustin, who interviewed Catherine Durant for his book, Billy Durant, her husband, found the symbol in a newspaper ad for Southern Compressed Coal Company's "Coalettes" and thought the design to be the perfect symbol for Chevrolet.
While all three stories have been confirmed as real by various members of the family, none of them have confirmed the same story to be true, leaving everyone's mind to wander as to where the symbol for the most loved American automotive manufacturer of all came from. The most likely story is Mrs. Durant's account of how the bowtie was found. Since Mrs. Durant stated the Atlanta, Georgia based newspaper, The Constitution, inspired the bowtie with its advertisement for “Coalettes” in its November 12, 1911, issue – only nine days after the Chevrolet Motor Company was incorporated.
One last rumor we found, though not confirmed, theorizes that the symbol is very similar to a stylized design of the cross on the Swiss flag. Though the theory is only speculation, it is plausible since the founder of Chevrolet Motor Car Company, Louis Chevrolet, was born in Switzerland to French parents. Some believe this is the most plausible as it pays homage to the founder's heritage. All stories have believable accounts, however. So, no matter which story you choose to believe, we may never know where this long-loved symbol truly originated. However, one thing is for sure; the symbol has proven to be a definitive American automobile symbol to this day.
NOTE: The Chevrolet bowtie is a registered trademark of the General Motors Company.