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100 years of Chev's bow tie

2013-07-19 14:28

Chev’s bow-tie turns 100 100 YEARS OF AN ICON: Chevrolet's bow tie celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2013. Image: Chevrolet

DETROIT, Michigan – Chevrolet’s globally recognised bow tie is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with 25 product launches to help the symbol "find new roads" around the world despite an origin that is still a bit of a mystery.

In 1913, Chevrolet co-founder William Durant introduced the signature bow tie on the 1914 Chevrolet H-2 Royal Mail and the H-4 Baby Grand, centered at the front of both models.


The bow tie has adorned 215-million Chevrolets over the last century, 60-million of which are still on the road.

A Chevrolet car, crossover or truck is sold every 6.39 seconds in one of 140 countries and the automaker reports sales of 2.5-million units in the first six months of 2013.

The bow tie’s centennial is marked by new entries such as the Cruze turbo diesel sedan in the US and the Trax SUV in 40 international markets.

Chevrolet's chief marketing officer Tim Mahoney said: “The Chevrolet bow tie is recognised around the world and has become synonymous with American ingenuity.

“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.”


Despite the bow tie has been present for a 100 years, the details surrounding its origin are still uncertain. Stories range from Durant being inspired by the wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel to a newspaper advertisement he saw while vacationing in Hot Springs, Virginia.

Durant’s widow and daughter each have an alternative explanation.

Margery Durant, in her 1929 book “My Father”, wrote that Durant sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table.

She said: "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."

In a 1968 interview, however, Durant’s widow Catherine said the bow tie design originated from a Hot Springs vacation in 1912. While reading a newspaper in their hotel room Durant spotted a design and exclaimed: “I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet.”


Unfortunately Catherine never clarified what the motif was or how it was used, but that nugget of information inspired Ken Kaufmann, historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, to search out its validity.

In a November 12, 1911 edition of The Constitution newspaper, it had an advertisement from the Southern Compressed Coal Company for Coalettes, a refined fuel for fires.

The Coalettes logo, as published in the ad, had a slanted bow tie form, very similar to what would soon become the Chevrolet icon.

Did Durant and his wife see the same ad?

The date of the paper Kaufmann found was just nine days after the incorporation of Chevrolet. The first use of the bow tie by Chevrolet appeared in the October 2 1913 edition of The Washington Post with the words “Look for this nameplate” above the symbol.

Read more on:    chevrolet  |  general motors

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