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The Chevy Century: A Bowtie For Every Season

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On: Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 3:58PM | By: Chris Salamone


The Chevy Century: A Bowtie For Every Season

Ok, before we even begin, I’d like to go out on a limb and suggest that 1985’s bowtie graphic is the obvious winner. Aside from being the most dramatic, the 1985 brand logo embodies the 1980s as a decade of good times, futuristic thinking, and dramatically new perspectives. Not to mention it’s just plain bizarre.

And yet, arguing over which logo reigns supreme is a difficult task when the brand logo’s origins are still unclear. Even Chevrolet remains unsure of the bowtie logo’s birthplace.

In 1961, an official company publication called The Chevrolet Story stated that the logo “originated in Durant’s imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”

But the rest of the Durant family remains in conflict. William C. Durant’s daughter claims the logo originates from a doodle created during a family dinner.

And the story goes further still. More than 50 years later, Durant’s widow claimed that her husband spotted a bowtie design in his newspaper during a 1912 vacation to Hot Springs, Virginia.

On the other hand, the Chevy bowtie could be some kind of homage to the Swiss flag and Louis Chevrolet—who was born in Switzerland.

Regardless of which origin story holds the most truth, from October 2, 1913 the symbol would eventually become one of the most recognizable brand images of the twentieth century. As the graphic shows, several variations of the bowtie have graced the first century of Chevys. But the shape remains the same.

And those same attributes that Durant couldn’t let go of—memorability, immortality, solidarity—echo through the ages with different looks for different decades. So much so that some people seem to equate Chevy’s logo with their own self-identity.

Mike Yager, owner of the Corvette mail order parts company MidAmerica Motorworks, designed his swimming pool in the shape of a bowtie.

If the past 100 years have taught consumers anything, it’s that bowties are always in style.


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