Historic Car Brands
Founded as a machine-shop by brothers Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge in the early 1900s, the Dodge Brothers Company originally supplied parts and assemblies for Detroit-based automakers – mainly the Olds motor Vehicle Company and the fledgling Ford Motor Company.
Ford chose Dodge Brothers to supply complete powered chassis for the 1903-04 Model A, so that all Ford had to supply were the body and wheels.
The company began building their own 30/35 touring car under the ‘Dodge Brothers’ brand in 1914 and had shot to number two in the US car market by 2016.
The Dodge cars featured all-steel body and frame construction, in contrast to the common steel panel over wood frame structure. They also had a 12-volt electrical system, rather than six-volt.
The Dodge 30/35 had nearly double the Ford Model T’s horsepower and a sliding-mesh transmission, in contrast to the T’s planetary box.
Around 12,800 Dodge cars and light trucks served with the US military during World War One.
After the War, Dodge retained its market position, but tragedy struck in 1920, when both brothers died suddenly – John with pneumonia and Horace with cirrhosis.
1927 Dodge Series 124 Sedan – Lars-Goran Lindgren
Their widows ran the company for five years, but by then Dodge cars had slipped to fifth place in the market, although the light truck line sold well. A tie-up with bodybuilding company Graham saw Dodge truck chassis branded ‘Graham’, until 1928.
The Graham brothers had management positions act Dodge, before departing in 1927 to start up the Graham-Paige car business.
Dodge Brothers was bought by an investment group and product developments included the launch of the Senior, six-cylinder range that replaced the previous four-cylinder model. The Senior was complemented by the Standard Six and Victory Six for model year 1928.
During 1927 the investment group was looking to sell off Dodge and the deal was done with Chrysler in 1928.
Truck development continued under Chrysler and export markets boomed, with additional ‘badge-engineered’ Fargo and DeSoto brands in some markets.
1937 Dodge coupe engine – Stephen Foskett
Dodge’s range diminished somewhat under Chrysler and it was marketed below ‘Chrysler’ branded cars. An in-line, straight-eight replaced the Senior Six and a longer-wheelbase edition of the remaining six was added in 1936.
Dodge didn’t get the radical ‘Airflow’ streamlining that some Chrysler brands did, but the gentler Wind Stream styling proved popular.
1939 Dodge D11 Luxury Liner Sedan – Lars-Goran Lindgren
In 1939 Dodge models were restyled and branded Luxury Liners and in 1941 a fluid coupling was slotted between engine and clutch, to aid startability.
During Word War II Dodge produced more than 400,000 4×4 and 6×6 light trucks and ambulances, continuing with the Power Wagon after the War.
1946 Dodge D24C Sedan – Steve46814
Post-war models were revamped 1942 six-cylinder Deluxe and Custom cars until 1949, when the Fluid Dive option could be combined with the Gyro-Matic semi-automatic transmission.
In 1949 the Meadowbank, Wayfarer and Coronet models were released. The Cornet pillar less hardtop beat the competition to releasing this soon to be popular configuration.
In 1953 the first V8 was launched – a Dodge version of the Chrysler Hemi – as the Red Ram 3.9-litre. However, the stubby styling didn’t go down well with the public.
1955 Dodge Coronet – Lars-Goran Lindgren
Chrysler borrowed heavily in 1954 to give its multi-brand models upgrades and the PowerFlite auto box was announced.
In 1956 came the four-door, pillar less hardtop across all three Dodge ranges and the three-speed TorqueFlite auto box was introduced a year later.
The compact Lancer – derived from the Valiant – was released in 1960 and was not successful, but was followed in 1963 by the long-lived Dart model. The full-sized Custom 880 was released in 1961.
Dodge Charger – Bull-Doser
The Charger came along in 1965, followed by the performance model a year later, with V8 power up to a 6.9-litre 425hp engine.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Dart was the bread and butter model, with performance Chargers, Super Bees and Coronet R/Ts selling strongly. The Challenger was available with engines up to full-race.
1967 Dodge Coronet
The 1973 Oil Shock caused a market reaction to Dodge’s thirsty lineup. An indication was that the 1976 Challenger had a four-cylinder, not a V8, under the bonnet. However the V8-powered Charger continued.
In 1976 the Plymouth Volare-derived Aspen replaced the Dart, but suffered from reliability and rust issues, so was discontinued in 1980.
The Coronet name disappeared in 1976 and the two-door Coronet was replaced by a Charger model. Both models were replaced by the Monaco and Diplomat in 1977.
The Magnum came in 1978 and the Omni and Horizon helped save Chrysler from bankruptcy.
Dodge Aries sedan – Ifcar
The front wheel drive Aries arrived in 1981, followed by the Caravan, but the traditional Dodge Diplomat continued to sell well.
The 1985 Daytona small car started with 93hp, but soon was turbocharged for 142hp and a ‘Shelby’ version was released in 1987. Pop-up headlights were also added to the Daytona in 1987.
1987 Dodge Daytona – Ifcar
The Dynasty was released in 1990 and Dodge’s ‘sporty’ position in the Chrysler range was confirmed by the release of the 600, performance Lancers and in 1992, the Viper. The Viper’s aluminium V10 engine did much for Dodge’s image.
Dodge Viper – Andy Main