Dodge logos and hood ornaments
The Star of David in the Dodge Brothers logo was on the first Dodge Brothers car built, in 1914, and was last used on the 1938 Dodge.
The Dodge Brothers logo has been extensively discussed in the Dodge Brothers Club newsletter; one issue claimed that, in 1938, an export version with a single black triangle was used, and shortly afterwards, the Star-of-David logo disappeared completely (the Dodge brothers themselves had died in 1920). David Zimmerman wrote that he suspected that the Dodge Brothers may have believed that certain export markets would not buy a car with the link to the Jewish symbol.
The Dodge Brothers Club's FAQ states that the interlocking-triangles symbol was not chosen to anger Henry Ford, as the popular story goes (though the brothers seemed contemptuous of Ford when they started their own company), and goes on to say that, at the time the emblem was first used (1914), the “Star of David” was not generally associated with Judaism. It suggests these possibilities, among others:
1. These are two interlocking Greek letter deltas for the two Dodge brothers (Chrysler itself wrote in a 2014 display that the triangle did represented the letter delta. “The triangle pointing up is white, representing the soul, while the triangle pointing down is blue and stands for the body... the symbol represented the union of the two brothers into one” and was reinforced by the intertwined “D” and “B” in the middle of the star.)
2. A medieval symbol of mysticism and the joining of mind and body; in this case representing the joining of two brothers, who were very close (allegedly, letters addressed to just one of them would be discarded).
3. An abstraction of the square and compass of the Freemasons (this seems unlikely as well).
4. A badge with six pointed star similar to those used for law-enforcement officer's badges, some outlined with triangles. The old-west Dodge City badge had six points. Horace Dodge was said to enjoy accompanying local law-enforcement officers on their runs.
The Dodge Brothers Club News editor wrote that the “emblem is also a ‘Solomon’s Seal’ sign of interconnected spirits, as the brothers were.”
The source for the FAQ information on this topic appears to be Dodge Bros, the men, the motorcars, the legacy, by Charles K. Hyde, Wayne State University Press, 2004. The source for the Dodge Brothers logos is cartype.com.
Chrysler replaced the Dodge Brothers logo with a gold winged shield through to 1938. Some years wings were more level, while later ones drooped. Starting around 1954, the Ram logo, based on 1930s ornaments, was used.
Dan Minick wrote that Dodge used a crest with red bars (the Dodge family coat of arms), starting in 1941; the Dodge coat of arms referred to changed shape in 1955, 1956 and 1957 before fading away at some time after 1960.
The coat of arms returned briefly in 1976 before fading away again around 1982, when Lee Iacocca sublimated all division logos in favor of the pentastar logo on all cars. It followed a hubcap logo used on the 1975 Coronet Brougham which closely resembled the crest used on Zenith radios and TVs.
The three-delta, rocket-like Dodge emblem used from 1962-1976 is called a "fratzog;" the name was reportedly made up by a designer who was told it had to be called something. The rocket shape reminded buyers that Chrysler Corporation made extremely reliable rockets for the space program, eventually reaching the moon.
During the 1970s, a moderately slanted type-based logo was used to convey speed and a modern feel; Plymouth used a similar logo. In the 1980s, it was changed to all capitals and given a stronger slant. Starting in the late 1990s, the Ram logo was applied to cars as well. In the mid-1990s, some cars used a non-slanted version (the final illustration below is from 1994).
Not to be forgotten is the short-lived Dodge “Scat Pack” logo, drawn up for the Super Bee in imitation of the more successful Plymouth Road Runner’s Warner Bros. cartoon Road Runner and Wiley Coyote. The logo was in tune with the times, but the Road Runner was far more in character for the value-oriented Plymouth brand than the “bare performance” Super Bee was for the still-upmarket Dodge brand.
During the 1990s, the Dodge truck ram’s head took over on cars. After Fiat took over from Cerberus, Dodge cars separated from Dodge trucks, which went under the Ram brand, and a new logo was developed which reflects Dodge’s performance image.
Dodge Ram (trucks and early cars)
The original Dodge Ram logo came from sculptor Avard T. Fairbanks, who was working at the University of Michigan in 1929; he needed a new car to replace his Willys-Knight, and offered his services to Chrysler Corporation in exchange for designing a hood ornament.
Mike Sealey wrote that the separated-horns hood ornament appeared in stylized form on cars around 1954, and was then applied to trucks.
“Probably the best remembered ram ornaments was seen on the 1951-1952 passenger cars. This one had separate horns, and was a popular aftermarket accessory for Dodge trucks well into the late 1960s.” (see photo below.) A striking ram logo was substituted in the late 1990s.
The Ram crosshair grille
The Dodge Truck / Ram crosshair grille appears to have debuted on some trucks in 1941, if one squints — one may wonder if that was a conscious counter to the Dodge Brothers’ Star of David? (At the time, not connected to Judaism). It was not universal across the line, even in 1941, and was likely not the inspiration for the much-later cross-hair grilles of the 1989s, 1990s, and beyond.
The crosshairs re-appeared as a minor styling feature in the lower grille for 1957 but left again in 1958. The first modern incarnation of the crosshair came around 1969 but it was not a standard feature every year or every truck, with standard mesh grilles also in use.
According to Mike V., the crosshair became standard on full-size Dodge and Ram trucks in 1985; the first to break from that tradition was the 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel.