Established in 1900 in Detroit, the Dodge Brothers Company initially manufactured parts and assemblies for the automobile industry. It was only after 1914 that it started making complete vehicles under the Dodge brand. In 1928, the Dodge brand was sold to Chrysler Corporation and after a series of mergers and acquisitions, it is now owned by Chrysler Group LLC in an alliance with Fiat with the corporate headquarters located in Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.
The Dodge brand has produced an interesting line-up of vehicles over the years. Equally interesting has been the evolution of the brand logo. The original logo consisted of a six-pointed star formed by two interlocked triangles in a circle. The initials ‘DB’ formed the centre of the star while "Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicles" were etched on the circle’s circumference. Later, the leaping ram, Dodge family crest, Forward Look, Fratzog, Pentastar and Ram’s head were also used as the brand logos. After the separation of the Ram brand in 2010, two new logos are being used. One is the word “DODGE” with two diagonal red stripes used for marketing purposes and the other is the Ram’s head with “RAM” written at the bottom and is seen on trucks under the Ram brand. A variation of the first “DODGE” logo is seen on new vehicles like the 2011 Durango.
The Dodge Brothers Company was founded by Horace and John Dodge primarily to provide auto components for customers like the Ford Motor Company. In fact, the first Ford cars all had Dodge engines. The brothers were hugely successful in this field but reputedly due to the high handed attitude of customers like Henry Ford, they decided to start making their own cars. Their first car was the Dodge Model 30 which had four-cylinders, all-steel body, 12-volt electrical system and a sliding gear transmission. The Dodge car rose in popularity due to the quality of the parts used in the car and by 1916 they were ranked at number 2 in the US.
After the death of the brothers, Frederick Haynes became the company president and the existing Model 30 was improved as the new Series 116. Dodge started manufacturing light trucks and also marketed trucks built by Graham Brothers. By 1925, Dodge was struggling to retain its position and finally the company was sold to Dillon, Read & Co. for a stupendous US$146 million. During the period from 1926 to 1928, a number of new models were introduced but it was becoming increasingly difficult to make profits and finally in 1928, Dodge was taken over by Chrysler Corporation.
Under the Chrysler management, new, improved and cost-efficient models continued to be produced under the Dodge brand until Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1942 and passenger car production was stopped to accommodate arms and military equipment production. During the war, Dodge became well-known for its tough military trucks and efficient ambulances and its reputation sustained after the war years.
The “Forward Look” styling incorporated by Dodge ensured that it produced aesthetic looking, yet stronger and efficient vehicles after 1955. Although Chrysler had its share of ups and downs over the years- surviving the 1973 oil crisis, bankruptcy etc.- the Dart, Lancer, Coronet, Charger, Custom 880, Polara, Monaco, Super Bee, Challenger, Omni, Aspen, Dodge Aries, Dodge Caravan, Dodge Spirit, Daytona, Neon, St. Regis Dodge Viper and many other models in the Dodge line-up helped Chrysler to be recognised as an important producer of good performance, economical vehicles.
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