Dodge Cars History

Dodge cars history, long before the first dodge cars were built in 1914 John and Horace Dodge had a reputation of excellence in the transportation industry. In the late 1800s they built bicycles before trying their hand at automotive parts for Oldsmobile and Ford. So impressed with their design and craftsmanship in late 1902. Henry Ford offered the brothers dodge a 10% stake in his company if it would supply a major components for his cars.

By 1910 they were building a new factory in Hamtramck Michigan and fast becoming the world’s largest automotive parts company. It was at their Hamtramck factory where the Dodgers made transmissions engines and other components that went into Ford’s legendary Model T. The car that put much of the world on wheels. After more than a decade of supplying Ford parts the Dodge brothers terminated their contract. Partly out of frustration with Ford’s refusal to improve his product. John and Horace set their sights on building their own car.

The Dodge brothers Company was chartered in Michigan on 17 July 1914. John and Horace were confident they could build their own cars. They said someday all those Model T owners are going to want to buy an automobile.

On 14 November 1914 those buyers had their chance. The first Dodge car dubbed Old Betsy rolled off the line. The new cars sold well and quickly established the Dodge brothers reputation for dependability and value. To make sure they were delivering the best product possible. The Dodge brothers often carried out vehicle testing on their own dropping tires off roofs and even personally crash testing their cars. So exacting were their standards that their slogan dependable coined the word dependability and became synonymous with dodge car.

These reliable cars were even popular on the international front. The first right-hand drive Dodge was shipped to Australia in August 1915. In Mexico early Dodge vehicles earned their stripes on the battlefield. US army general John pershing used Dodge cars for field testing and his efforts to oust mexican warlord Pancho Villa.

By 1916 lieutenant George S Patton took part in the first motorized charge in the US Army’s history in Dodge touring cars. Within five years of building their first car the Dodge brothers had expanded their lineup and built a yearly total of one hundred and twenty-one thousand vehicles with sales of twenty four million dollars but tragedy came on the heels of success. Just months apart both John and Horace Dodge died in 1920 from influenza but their company philosophy remained dodge vehicles continued to be known for their durability and dependability.

In 1922 Dodge became the first US automaker to introduce a closed car with an all steel body. Dodge also became the first US car maker to open an assembly plant at Europe. This new facility in Northwest London started by importing light truck components and assembling them for British markets.Several years after their death Dodge brothers heirs sold the company to an investment bank.

In 1928 Walter P Chrysler head of the world’s fifth largest automaker set his sights on the company. He was attracted by its loyal owners dealers and it’s superb production facilities. Papers were signed on the afternoon of July 30th with that purchase Chrysler increased its size at least five times. Suddenly making Chrysler the world’s third largest automaker. Chrysler gained manufacturing capability, Dodge products benefited from Chrysler’s renowned engineering department.

Chrysler designers and engineers work to uphold that Dodge brothers tradition of dependability. While introducing draft-free ventilation synchronized front and rear springs and hydraulic brakes. Dodge products in Britain were now sold as Chrysler’s and truck production was moved to Chrysler’s London River Bank home where the popular semi forward control vehicle was built. The driver sat above the engine rather than behind it. So the vehicle was more compact better suited for European roads.

In 1933 Dodge adopted. Its famous ram symbol using it as a hood ornament on new Dodges. Walter Chrysler picked it after the sculpture quipped. The ram is the king of the trail and if you encounter one you Dodge. In the 30s and under Chrysler control, Dodge anchored the mid-priced market offering quality and value. While maintaining Dodges reputation for dependability that was unmatched by any other automaker. The US government came to rely on Dodge dependability during World War two. 

Dodge build parts aircraft engines and nearly 400,000 trucks were crucial to the US war effort. Among the many truck designs fused during the war  before by four which became known as the power wagon was among the most durable. It was another example of Dodges ruggedness and power it remained in production as a military and civilian vehicles as late as 1970. The first post-war Dodges came to market in 1946 to overwhelming public demand. In Europe only Dodge trucks were built British built ones were exported worldwide. In the US a new line of pilothouse styled pickups was introduced in 1948 boosting sales across the line.

Into the 50s the Dodge slogan was still dependability but it was designer Virgil Exner. Who would change Dodges image from a reliable family car. The extra touch included chrome fins and flair but it wasn’t just what was on the outside that was turning heads. Beneath extra Dodge hood a V8 engine. This new high-performance engine known as the red Ram was Dodges version of the Chrysler Hemi design. It quickly made a name for itself. Shortly after it was introduced in one-two races.

In 1954 for the first time ever a Dodge know for its dependability paced the Indianapolis 500. By the late 50s Dodge was sporting bolder fins and lowered bodies. Designs that one both admiration and attracted criticism worldwide. Just a few years later the design excesses were seen as that excess . Dodge quickly brought to market a tamed down compact car. The Lancer built with unibody construction and powered by the famous slant six engine. A bigger model the Dodge Dart was available with a larger engine. Upholding Dodges new performance reputation.

Hemi v8 stuffed into lighter weight cars like the Dart, couldn’t help but go fast and help make Dodge a contender on the race tracks and drag strips. Joining the muscle car craze Dodge unveiled the charger in 1966. The Hemi powered stock cars tore up the track and help give the Dodge brand a race competition image. The zenith came when a modified Dodge Charger Daytona ran 200 miles per hour, setting a closed track speed record. 

Dodge models like the Charger coronet and Lena the Challenger were packed with power performance and created fierce owner pride. That Dodge pride was apparent in markets outside the US. The dark outfitted with a Spanish made diesel engine leather upholstery and air conditioning was successful. In the late 60s and today is highly prized by collectors. Besides Spain darts were built in Canada Brazil Colombia and Australia. Peru and Venezuela the Dodge Coronet, fuel crises, safe driving concerns and emissions controls. Eventually squashed the muscle car era but not before Dodge had one last hurrah for little red Express. Our performance pickup claimed the title of fastest US production vehicle beating out the Chevrolet Corvette in 1978.


Dodge has Europe to thank for a phenomenally successful small car that took a direct shot at the small Japanese and European imports. The hatchback Dodge Omni was based on the Chrysler horizon created by Chrysler Europe. It was voted European Car of the Year in 1978. The model had a short life in Europe but redesigned for the US market and built in America. It became a huge success and was the first front-wheel drive subcompact car. The souped up GLH version with the letters rumored to mean goes like hell was a link to Dodge his performance passed. Despite the popularity of the omni Dodge and the Chrysler Corporation were running on fumes. Chrysler Corporation lacked the capital and investor confidence needed to develop a new generation of fuel-efficient cars. The US government provided a loan guarantee helping the Chrysler Corporation develop new products. With this government lifeline Dodge returned to its roots dependable value for the dollar transportation.

The key cars solid reliable cars helped turn the Chrysler Corporation around along with a completely new vehicle the front wheel drive minivan. The Dodge Caravan along with its sister model the plymouth voyager changed the look of America’s driveways forever. Riding on the coattails of the kei car and minivans success. The Dodge brand was on the road to recovery. Eighties models build on the kei car platform like the Dodge Daytona, Dynasty, Shadow, Shelby Lancer and Spirit R/T. Had the right Dodge attitude but Dodge fans wanted the return of real power. Chrysler Corporation management agreed. It was time to take chances and produce capable high-performance vehicles that even John and Horace will be proud of.

In 1982 Dodge power and excitement was back with the production Viper. Limited numbers of these Vipers were exported to markets outside North America and badged as Chrysler Vipers. Just one year later Dodge wowed them again with its new LH platform cars. The cab forward design was roomy comfortable and well engineered. A modern take on Dodge traditional quality, practicality and value. Dodge also revamped its truck lineup featuring big rig styling in its Dakota’s and rams. These re engineered trucks help put Dodge back into serious sales contention. Dodge proved itself a truck leader when it introduced the Quad Cab. The industry’s first two rear hinged rear doors with inside handles. With all these exciting new products Dodge decided. It was time to return to NASCAR racing and bring back the famed Hemi engine. The new engine is powerful and has surpassed all expectations. Packaged in bold Dodge designs its giving the brand a whole new energy and drive. An energy and drive that would delight John and Horace Dodge even today. Building on the brand’s early days of quality and durability. Dodge continues to uphold its heritage of dependable, well engineered, bold, powerful vehicles. 

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