On August 15, 16, and 17, Dodge will be making global debuts. Stellpower.com will be up front and center on all three, which should answer some questions about the brand’s direction.
Dodge was created as Dodge Brothers in 1902, as detailed in this allpar story. They started out by making parts, selling to (among others) Ransom Olds, whose first automotive use of the assembly line brought him a 30% share of cars sold in America. Then the twice-bankrupted Henry Ford sought their help; the Dodges lent Ford cash, provided parts, and redesigned his car. John and Horace Dodge may have played more of a role in Ford’s success than Henry Ford himself.
The brothers started making their own cars in 1914. Their 35-hp four-cylinder engine would not win many races, except against Fords; but they competed well in the upper-middle tier of the market, rapidly gaining both reputation and market share, sticking solely with four-cylinder engines. Both brothers died in 1920, though, during the flu epidemic; the company was sold to Chrysler for a record sum in 1928. The name went from Dodge Brothers to “Dodge” in 1930, the same year the first eight-cylinder joined a Dodge or Dodge Brothers car.
Dodge’s first muscle cars were arguably the D-500 packages of the 1950s; through the 1960s and 1970s, Plymouth and Dodge shared fairly equally in muscle, with Dodge getting the unique Charger and Plymouth dominating with the Road Runner and Duster. Lee Iacocca put muscle cars, now defined as the hottest turbocharged four-cylinders (e.g. the Turbo III), into Dodge’s hands, along with the Viper; Plymouth was corralled into the “value” arena. With the launch of the new Magnum and Charger in the 2000s, Dodge’s reputation was more firmly set into the “muscle” category; the modern 392 Hemi and 700+ horsepower Hellcat series have kept Dodge cemented in that class ever since.