Dodge’s history: here are some things that you probably don’t know!

Posted on 30 March, 2017


Dodge has been around for a long time. In fact, the Dodge brothers, Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge started the Dodge Brothers Company in the early 1900s as a machine shop. There were literally hundreds of automakers back then and the Dodge brothers made and supplied parts to Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company and the Olds Motor Vehicle Company among others.

The brothers began manufacturing their own cars under the Dodge Brothers brand in 1914. Their first car was the Dodge Model 30 and it had a four-cylinder engine and they marketed it as a competitor to Ford’s Model T, only a bit more upscale. Their innovation and detail oriented  way of making cars forced the rest of the automotive industry to take notice and to ultimately make the same changes in their cars. The industry standard at that time was wood framing covered by steel panels and six-volt battery systems. The Dodge Brothers made their cars with all steel bodies and used a 12-volt system. The Model 30 also had a 30 horsepower engine compared to Ford’s 20 horses.

It took only two years for the Dodge Brothers Company to be ranked second in sales across the country. Ford, of course, was number one. Once the Dodge brothers started to manufacture their own cars and compete with the ultra popular Ford Model T, Mr. Ford didn’t like it or them, especially since the brothers owned Ford stock and were receiving over a million dollars a year in shareholder payouts from the big car company. In 1916, Henry Ford decided not to pay out any dividends in order to finance a new project. Well, the Dodge brothers immediately filed a lawsuit and Ford bought out all of his stockholders, giving Horace and John Dodge $25 million.

That huge pay out helped the Dodge boys continue to compete with Ford and propelled their vehicles to even greater popularity. They maintained their second place to Ford until 1920. (Second place to Ford was incredibly profitable by the way). That same year brought the great flu pandemic to Detroit and it infected thousands of people. Worldwide, the flu killed upwards of 100 million people. The influenza, unfortunately, also took the lives of both Horace and John Dodge in 1920. Not long after that the Dodge Company was sold to an investment group and ultimately was sold to the Chrysler Corporation. Today, it is one of the great brands under the umbrella of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US. You can see all the terrific 2017 Dodge vehicles at Locklear.