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Local heritage of the famous RAM logo

Feb 09, 2016 10:44AM

The RAM truck logo has become one of the most widely recognized and successful trademarks in the world. We see the rams head image on television, in print advertising, at truck dealerships and on trucks in front of us on the road all the time. The fascinating story that few people know is that the RAM logo has a local heritage.

The original Dodge Ram was a sculpture created for Walter Chrysler in 1931 by Avard Tennyson Fairbanks. Avard, born March 2, 1897, was the 10th of 11 children of pioneer Mormon farmer and artist John B. Fairbanks of Provo. By the time he was 32, he became a well-educated and well-known sculptor and accepted the position to head up the art department for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Being low on cash and needing a new car, he went to the Chrysler Automobile Company in 1929 and offered to sculpt a hood ornament in trade for a car.

Avard Fairbanks’ first project for Chrysler was to design a hood ornament for the new Plymouth. He came up with the “Flying Mermaid,” which was a great success. Next, Walter Chrysler asked Avard to come up with a powerful animal to represent the Dodge brand. He came up with the idea of the Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep. Legend has it that when Chrysler ask why a ram was selected, Avard Fairbanks replied, “It is sure-footed, it’s king of the mountain, it wouldn’t be challenged by anything. And if you were on the trail and saw the ram charging down at you, what would you think? Dodge!” Walter Chrysler liked the sculpture and the argument for it that he heard. The ram’s head has been a registered trademark since 1932. Quite a bargain in trade for a new car.

Avard Fairbanks was a prolific sculptor with three of his sculptures in the United States Capitol Building and in the Utah and Wyoming state capitols. A list of his work would cover several pages. Throughout his life, he was active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held several positions in the church. Avard Tennyson Fairbanks passed away Jan. 1, 1987, in Salt Lake City at the age of 89. What an incredible life, and I am reminded of him every time I see the Ram logo.