History of Dodge
Dodge is an American car manufacturer founded in 1914 by John Francis Dodge and his brother Horace Elgin Dodge. In 1928 the brand was acquired by Chrysler and from 1998 to 2007 it was part of the German DaimlerChrysler company.
The brothers John and Horace Dodge were passionate about mechanics already as children. After having worked in a Detroit ship-engine factory they founded a bicycle firm in 1887, the Dodge Brothers Bicycle & Machine Factory. Both complemented each other well. John was most interested in the commercial side while Horace was interested in the technical part. They were hard workers too and the company quickly achieved success.
In 1901 they began producing motorcycle components too. They also met Ransom Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile, from whom they got a contract to build the one-cylinder engine of his new car. That car was successful and the company of John and Horace became the largest motorcycle engine producer in the world. Henry Ford became also customers for the construction of parts of the Ford Model A. Because Henry Ford could not pay the first order, John and Horace were given 10 percent shares of the young automaker and important positions in the board. The huge success of the Model T Ford made the brothers millionaires.
In the early 1910s, Henry Ford wanted to restructure in order to have to pay less money to the shareholders. The Dodges were fed up with the man and announced that they would leave the board and start to build their own car. The irate Ford doubled the wages of his employees, reduced its prices and invested in his tractor factory to no longer having to pay dividends. The shareholders began a lawsuit in 1917, which ended in 1919 when Ford bought back the shares of the Dodges.
In 1914 the brothers founded The Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle Company and introduced their first car. The car had a 3.5 liter 40 bhp engine and cost 785 USD. That was much more than the Ford Model T, but the Dodge was more modern than the Ford, dating from 1908. Their car was successful and 45,000 cars have been built the first year.
The Dodge brand quickly gained a name for the reliability of its vehicles. That reliability was also the reason for the U.S. Army to choose Dodge during the First World War. Dodge produced military trucks during the war which were also deployed by the French army. In 1918 the company received a Cross of Honour of France.
Dodge Coupe 1934
In 1920 Dodge had already produced 140,000 cars and the brand grew to be the second largest manufacturer of automobiles in the United States, after Ford. In January that year, John Dodge died of pneumonia and in December Horace Dodge died of influenza and liver cirrhosis. Frederick Haynes took over the management of the Dodge Brothers untill the widows of the brothers, Anna and Matilda, sold it to Dillon, Read & Company for 146 million USD, then the largest acquisition amount in history, hereby surpassing General Motors. On July 31, 1928 the company was sold to Chrysler for U.S. $ 175 million.
After Chrysler had taken over the British Rootes Group and the French Simca in 1967, forming Chrysler Europe, the Dodge brand was used in Europe for light commercial vehicles named previously Commer and Karrier. The pickup and van versions of the Simca 1100 were named Dodge from then on.
In the seventies Chrysler got into serious financial trouble. Chrysler Europe went down in 1977 and was sold in 1978 for the symbolic price of $ 1 to Peugeot. The factory was sold to Renault who sold Dodge trucks as Renaults and they eventually were phased out. The plant was finally converted to an engine factory. In 1998, Dodge along with Chrysler fell in the hands of the German DaimlerChrysler.
Currently, pickups and SUV's are the main product of Dodge. They account for a large proportion of the sales. Well known cars are the Dodge Ram, Dodge Neon and Dodge Viper. In Europe, especially the Dodge Caliber and Dodge Nitro are being highly promoted.