FOUNDED: November 3, 1911 (Detroit, USA)
FOUNDER(S): Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant
YEARS OF OPERATION: 1911–present
BEST-KNOWN MODELS: Corvette, Camaro, Impala, Bel Air, Chevelle, Volt, C/K
Swiss racing driver Louis Chevrolet helped entrepreneur William C. Durant launch a car company in Detroit, Michigan. The first model, the rather grand Classic Six, appeared with a slightly messy italic script logo. But soon there was a distinctive emblem: the classic Chevrolet “bow tie.” This first appeared in 1914 on the new H Series and L Series models and, with only small adaptations, still appears on Chevrolet vehicles today.
There are two competing theories about where this idea came from. Official Chevy history says Durant saw it on French hotel wallpaper and tore off a section to remind him when he returned to America. However, other automotive historians claim he simply copied the logo belonging to “Coalettes” coal (“the little coals with the big heat”), which he came across in a Virginia newspaper. Whichever is correct, Chevrolet has grown to become a major global brand. It is such an integral part of the success of the General Motors (GM) group that the word “Chevy” is often used as a synonym for GM.
The original badge was blue with “Chevrolet” in capitals across the center. Over the decades, Chevrolet used different colors to distinguish its sports cars from ordinary cars and trucks, but eventually returned to one simple logo. The gold bow-tie badge is now a bold, gold cross with a chunky chrome surround.