As GM Authority exclusively revealed earlier this month, the upcoming 2022 Chevy Bolt EV and 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV all-electric models will be sold with black Bow Tie emblems as standard. In fact, the traditional gold Bow Tie will not be available even on either vehicle, even as an option.
GM Authority has confirmed with the team responsible for the 2022 model year Bolts that this will be the very first time any Chevy model will be sold as standard with the black bow tie emblem, though it’s worth noting that the 2017-2021 Bolt EV offered a black Bow Tie emblem as an official accessory. To that end, the black bow tie has also been available as an option on many Chevrolet vehicles like, for example, the Chevy Blazer, Chevy Camaro and Silverado.
To be precise, this is true when the emblem appears on its own. But in the long and varied history of the logo, the legendary bow tie has been presented in black in years past, when the Chevrolet name was included. In other words, the 2022 Bolt EV and Bolt EUV will be the first Chevy vehicles fitted with black emblems where the Chevrolet name is not used.
There is no obvious reason why the Bolt models should be alone in losing the gold from their Bow Tie logos. It would not be surprising to see future Chevy vehicles adopt a similar policy. If this happens, it will simply be part of a trend which may in future be seen as characteristic of the entire auto industry in the 21st century’s third decade – namely, a move toward subdued color palettes.
Within GM, the Cadillac luxury arm is a leader of this trend, with its optional monochrome badges that started out on the front fenders and have since made their way to the front and rear, often as part of the Onyx Packages, to replace the multi-color Cadillac Crest emblem. GMC has recently begun to offer black badges as an option. Only Buick has bucked the trend by switching its Tri-Shield logo from monochrome to one with red, white and blue accents.
Phasing out the gold Bow Tie may seem like the end of an era, and will probably be criticized as such. However, it is important to remember that the Bow Tie has been gold only since 2004. Immediately before that, it was presented as a red contour on a white background. In the 20th century, GM frequently used the color blue, sometimes (but not always) with gold highlights. The logo used today has been around since 2013, after the 2004 gold logo was replaced with a darker shade and the silver framing was made significantly wider.
To sum up, although the changeover to an all-black emblem may seem radical, it is just one in a very long series of changes to the Bow Tie, and one which is consistent with current automotive trends.
The Bow Tie has been around for a long time, but it is not as old as the brand itself. In the early years, Chevy vehicles were adorned with a stylized version of co-founder Louis Chevrolet’s signature. The Bow Tie made its debut in 1914, three years after the company was founded and – perhaps significantly – the same year that Louis Chevrolet left after a policy dispute with William Durant.
The origins of the Bow Tie have been disputed for many years. One story is that it was inspired by the cross in the flag of Louis Chevrolet’s home country, Switzerland. However, there seems to be no evidence in support of this, and it’s unlikely that Durant would have honored Chevrolet in this way at the same time the two men fell out.
A more convincing tale was told in The Chevrolet Story, a 1961 publication issued to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary. According to this, the Bow Tie “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.”
32 years earlier, however, a conflicting view had been put forward by Durant’s daughter, Margery, who said that William sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table. In her 1929 book, My Father, she wrote, “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.”
This is in turn contradicted by an article in a 1986 issue of Chevrolet Pro Management, which quoted a 1973 interview with William Durant’s second wife (and Margery’s stepmother) Catherine Lederer Durant, who died the following year at the age of 87. Mrs. Durant recalled her husband reading a newspaper in the room of a hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia, during a holiday in 1912. William saw an ad, and exclaimed, “I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet.”
Mrs. Durant did not recall what that ad was, but research by Chevrolet historian Ken Kaufmann suggested that it was for Coalettes, a fuel product for fires manufactured by the Southern Compressed Coal Company. The resemblance between the Coalettes logo and the Chevy Bow Tie is indeed striking. Whether or not the first influenced the second is another question.