Chevrolet Bowtie badge turns 100, but its origin is still uncertain

By Bob Nagy on July 19, 2013 4:24 AM

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One of the world's best-known automotive brand symbols celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year, and while Chevy says the iconic Bowtie logo has now adorned more than 215 million of its products during the past century, the carmaker admits there's still some question as to what initially led Chevrolet co-founder William C. Durant to choose this particular symbol, which first appeared in late 1913 on the front of both the 1914 Chevrolet H-2 Royal Mail and the H-4 Baby Grand models.

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Now in its 10th iteration, signs point to the logo resulting from a chance encounter that took place in 1912 while Chevy's then founder-to-be was vacationing with his wife in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Interviewed in 1968, Durant's widow claimed the design was inspired by something he saw in an ad printed in the Atlanta Constitution. While recalling that her husband observed: "I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet," she could offer no other specific information. Shortly thereafter, Ken Kaufmann, historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, took up the cause of resolving this decades-long mystery. Ultimately, Kaufman's research led to a copy of the Constitution from 1911 that carried an ad from the Southern Compressed Coal Company touting its "Coalettes" -- which were "a refined fuel product for fires." The Coalettes logo consisted of a similar kind of slanted bowtie form, which now is viewed as the most probable origination point for what ultimately morphed into the classic Chevrolet badge.

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