The Dodge Motor Company
Founded in the year 1900 by two brothers by the name of John and Horace Dodge the two would go on to produce vehicle components that would be used by Olds Motor Company as well as the Ford Motor Company. For the Olds Motor Company, Dodge supplied transmissions for the company and complete drivetrains for Ford. Due to the brother’s determination to build their own vehicles and continual issues when dealing with Henry Ford drove the brothers to introduce their first complete vehicle in 1914. The first Dodge production models were the 30-35 Tourer, the vehicles was modestly priced and was well received by the general public therefore putting the Dodge brother’s company on the map. In 1914 the company produced 249 vehicles from November to December. It was just a year later when Dodge had produced 45,000 vehicles making it the third largest in the country. The vehicle produced 35 hp through a 4-cylinder engine and was priced at $785 dollars making it more affordable for more customers at the time. These Dodge vehicles would be built on a 114-inch wheelbase and had a similar design throughout the models. Dodge vehicles were used for various application with one of the most famous being the use by the U.S. Army during the Mexican border campaign and expedition to put a stop to Pancho Villa and his gang. The Dodge’s received much notoriety for being reliable vehicles that helped the expeditionary team complete its objectives.
In 1919 Dodge introduced their first 4-door vehicle that offered an enclosed cabin as well as all-steel constructed coupe body. It was in 1920 when Dodge would lose both of its founders as John Dodge did not survive his bout with pneumonia and it is widely believed that Horace Dodge went into a depressive state and lost his bout with cirrhosis. After the Dodge brothers deaths an employee by the name of Fredrick Haynes would take over the responsibility of running the company. Through the 1920’s Dodge would slowly lose its grip on being the number three best selling auto manufacturer as it would change hands in ownership and dwindle to 7th place in the U.S. market. This would lead the Dodge Company to be sold to the Chrysler Group in 1928.
With Dodge now under the ownership of the Chrysler Group, the company consolidated its models and began a restructure process that was common for Walter Chrysler to do. Chrysler would place Dodge between DeSoto and Plymouth as it was to have two lines of vehicles with a total of thirteen models. Dodge would start seeing more innovation being placed in its vehicles as well as more power thanks to its first inline 8-cylinder engine in 1930. Throughout the 1930’s Dodge would see more emphasis being placed on exterior styling thus leading to much more popularity amongst customers and leading the Dodge line to introduce a luxury series until 1942.
During the Second World War Dodge retooled its factories in order to produce Army trucks that would be used for a variety of different reasons such as troop transport as well as supplies and ambulances. Due to the vehicles reliability during the war, soldiers would bring home their respect for the Dodge name thus helping to jump start their sales after the war.
Due to the shortage of vehicles during the war, Dodge was able to start with a boost of sales. The company was able to make minor aesthetic changes to the pre-war models and sell them as 1946 model year vehicles. The designs of Dodge vehicles were conservative and not particularly exciting for customers until Dodge hired Virgil Exner who had previously worked under Harley Earl and was overseeing the designs for Pontiac. He then went on to Studebaker until 1949 when he was hired by Dodge to become the lead designer.
We would see a major shift in the design of Chryslers under Virgil Exner and with Chrysler’s now famed HEMI engines powering Dodge cars. Dodge would enter into the lower price bracket with the introduction of the 1960 Dodge Dart. The vehicle started out at $2,000 and had the option for a V-8 making it a strong seller for Dodge. The problem for Dodge was that the company was also losing its full-size car therefore it needed to hurry into production what would be the Dodge 880.
Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s Dodge would go through several ups and downs as vehicles were shifted and discontinued as well as the styling’s of Exner toned down over the years. But it was the “Muscle Car” era that brought a lot of attention to Dodge as it would produce iconic vehicles such as the Coronet R/T, Super Bee, Challenger and Charger. These vehicles were offered with several different engine configurations that lead to some very powerful cars that would compete against Ford’s Mustang and Chevrolet’s Camaro.
Today we see a design of nostalgia with the Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Charger. These vehicles fall under the same heritage of late 60’s Dodge vehicles as they are offered with a small but powerful and more economical V-6 engine to all the way up to a 392 HEMI V-8. We also see a resurgence of the Dodge Dart coming available as the company focuses on more efficiency. Dodge looks to continue the legacy of the Dodge brothers as it offers reliable vehicles to the general public at a price that is competitive.