Myths and Rumors Around the Chevrolet Logo

November 15th, 2012 by

If you’re anything like me, you probably wondered just where that iconic Chevrolet logo came from; am I right? I mean, it looks a bit strange and doesn’t seem to conform to any of the shapes we covered in geometry classes. The “Chevrolet bow tie,” as it’s called, originated in 1913, with credit being attributed to one of the co-founders of Chevrolet. It’s now grown into one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.

While there’s a well-established story about the origin of the Chevy logo, confirmed by William C. Durrant himself, that says he was inspired by the design of the wallpaper in a Parisian hotel, history and aging minds blur the lines between fact and fiction.

That being said, the Parisian hotel origin was the official word on the birth of the logo in the company’s 50th anniversary publication, The Chevrolet Story of 1961.

As with many things that get larger than life, though, other stories arise that can paint a different picture. For example, according to Durrant’s daughter, she described how her father would doodle at restaurants and sketch out logo designs around the dinner table.

Another rumor says that it was borrowed from a newspaper ad. This one comes from Durrant’s widow, Catherine, who recalls a holiday in Hot Springs, Virginia in 1912. After doing some digging around, Ken Kaufmann, Chevrolet historian, found an ad for “Coalettes” from the Southern Compressed Coal Company. Their logo bore a striking resemblance to the Chevy bow tie we know and love today.

One final rumor about the creation of this iconic brand image has its roots in the history of Louis Chevrolet, who was born in Switzerland. Just angling the Swiss flag a bit gives way to something that looks eerily like the Chevrolet logo.

There have been variations in coloring and details on the bow tie design over the past century, but the basic shape has always been the same. Whether from some mysterious Parisian hotel room, a dinnertime doodle, a coal company’s ad, or homage to the birthplace of Louis Chevrolet, there is little doubt that the bow tie has become more than just an advertisement; it is synonymous with Chevrolet engineering and quality vehicles.