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Retro Chevy Truck Bowtie: How to Make Something Old New Again

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author photo by Russ Heaps October 2017

Cue the confetti -- Chevy trucks turns 100 in 2018. As part of the anniversary hoopla at Chevrolet, a heritage Chevy truck bowtie will garnish the Centennial special-edition Silverado and Colorado pickups. At first blush, tinkering with the brand's badge may not seem like a big deal, but the decision to modify the universally recognized bowtie wasn't made lightly.

There has been some precedent for altering Chevrolet's current badge. For instance, high-performance and some special-edition models like the Camaro 1LE and Tahoe RST wear black bowties. These are exceptions, however. For the most part, the bowtie is off-limits to the creative types at Chevrolet.

Knowing how fiercely defended the iconic badge is, we thought it would be fun to dig into the process of conceptualizing and designing the heritage Chevy truck bowtie. To get the lowdown on the retro bowtie's backstory, we spoke with Chevy's director of truck exterior design, Rich Scheer, and Joann Kallio, who is lead designer for GM brand identity. Kallio did most of the heavy lifting in actually penning the heritage bowtie.

In the Beginning...

You can't let something like a 100-year anniversary pass unnoticed, right? Decisionmakers around Chevrolet knew they wanted to do something to highlight the century milestone, but what? The cost of doing an entirely different truck quickly eliminated that idea. Several sit-downs with design, badging and marketing to kick around other ideas finally focused on creating a different badge design of some sort for a Centennial trim level.

When pressed, Scheer couldn't pinpoint exactly whose idea it was. "Some great ideas just come out of the blue," he explained.

Then What?

Although enthusiastic about the idea of a modified bowtie, Scheer and company weren't entirely sold on the idea until they walked among the 200 or so vintage vehicles at the General Motors Heritage Center. "We looked at all the old badges and decided, yep, we'll do this," Sheer said.

Originally, the idea was mainly for a unique side badge for the Centennial editions. Over the course of the design process, Kallio made between 40 and 80 sketches of different side-badge ideas. Beyond the overall styling of the side badge, a couple of stumbling blocks concerned the font for the lettering and exactly the right color blue for the background on the bowtie.

Their visits to the Heritage Center convinced the designers of one thing: There have been a lot of different fonts used over the years. "The hardest thing to do was the heritage lettering," Kallio said. "There were so many fonts."

In the end, after studying numerous photos of the fonts on vintage trucks, Kallio freehanded the lettering.

Choosing exactly the right blue background confounded the group. They tried a number of different shades; none of them were quite right. Some digging through the archives, however, paid off. "We found an original engineering drawing with the colors called out," Scheer said. "It was just the right blue."

Somewhere during the development process, they decided to use the heritage bowtie on the side badge as the bowtie on the front and rear of the Centennial pickups. "We could emphasize the historical with the front bowtie," Scheer explained, "And the side badge would be more contemporary."

In the End

It's too soon to get a read on public or Chevy truck-owner reactions to the heritage Chevy truck bowtie, but Scheer is confident it will be well received. "There was so much passion around developing it," Scheer concluded. "I think the customer will really love it."

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