Brothers Horace and John Dodge started not as automakers but as manufacturers of precision engine and chassis components, supplying it to Detroit based automakers such as Ford Motor Company in the 1900. After their death in 1920, their widows took over and they sold it to Dillon, Read & Co., and later to Chrysler. Dodge has become Chrysler’s mid-priced brand of automobiles, minivans and sports utility vehicles since its acquisition. Under Chrysler, it took several blows of multiple ownership, subsequent selling out, acquisition and even bankruptcy. Consequently, they withstood all these due to their well earned reputation of producing quality parts to other successful maufacturers.
Carving a Name
Leaving the parts and assemblies production was easy but building their own complete line of vehicles that would compete with other automakers was a challenge. The first car they built, Dodge Model 30 was a clear challenge to Ford almost implying that Dodge can make it better. Their target was Ford’s Model T, the best seller during those times. As proof of the brothers ingenuity, they pioneered many features in the Model 30 but unfortunately created less impact. With Ford Model T’s 20 horsepower engine, they made 35 horsepower for Model 30. Model T has a 6 volt electrical system, Model 30 has 12 volts. And an all-steel body construction apart from majority of cars that time having wood-framing under steel panels. As a result, they ranked second in US sales in 1916. Dodge created a strong reputation with its tough military-spec truck models and ambulances used during World war II. Dodge vehicles were mainly trucks and full-sized passenger cars until the 70’s, with the brands most popular truck –the Dodge Ram. Despite its limited market, Dodge relied on its well acclaimed vehicle’s durability. Several mid-sized models became sales leaders such as the Dart range of lines, Coronet and the sporty Charger who became a NASCAR circuit winner. During this point, Dodge is a well known player in the muscle car market with models Charger, Coronet, Super Bee and the super charged Challenger with its wild race-ready Hemi V8 engine.
Goodbye Big Dodge
The oil crisis in 1973 led Chrysler to build compact to mid-sized cars. Dart was replaced by Aspen while Coronet and Charger were both replaced by Diplomat. It also gave birth to the very popular Dodge Caravan, paving the way for an entirely new market segment with the minivan. Declining sales and increasing competition made Dodge drop its heavy-duty range of trucks and replace it with light to medium-duty ones. The Dodge Ram was renamed to Ram Pickup line as shown at www.arrigoftpierce.com . By the early 1990’s, Ram took another styling treatment with its “big rig” polarized look. The Ram together with the Charger, Diplomat, Monaco and the Challenger carried the Dodge as the most cinematic car brand with its numerous appearances in the big screen. Who would forget their super charged roles in The Terminator, The Fast and the Furious and Beverly Hills Cop, to name a few.
Dodge may have been outdated in products and quite rooted with its Bigger Dodges, but performance and durability always outweigh the style. And this has always been a Dodge tradition.