Where did the Chevrolet bow tie come from? Durant's newspaper, perhaps
Billy Durant, founder of Chevrolet, was not only a superb salesman and promoter. He also apparently loved to develop names and logos for his products.
For years, the story of the Chevrolet bow tie emblem was that Durant had seen the design on wallpaper in Paris. But it wasn't true. For one thing, Durant wasn't traveling to Europe in the 1911-12 period when he was organizing Chevrolet Motor Co.
For another, Durant's widow, Catherine, said she remembered where the emblem came from. In a 1972 interview, she told me Durant got the idea from an advertisement in a Sunday newspaper when they were vacationing in Hot Springs, Va.
She said: "We were in a suite, reading the papers, and he saw this design and said, "I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet.' I'm not sure he said Chevrolet, because I don't think he had even settled on a name yet."
When Chevrolet historian Ken Kaufmann saw that reference in my 1973 biography of Durant, he looked through newspapers that might have circulated in Hot Springs at that time. Finally, after 17 years of on-and-off checking, he found it in the Nov. 12, 1911, Atlanta Constitution: An ad for Coalettes -- coal sold in small, concentrated chunks by the Southern Compressed Coal Co. -- included a bow tie emblem.
Kaufmann noted the date was nine days after Chevrolet Motor was incorporated.