Lo­cal her­itage of the fa­mous RAM logo

Serve Daily - - FOSTERING INNOVATION - By Ed Helmick

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.

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