Sunday, July 20, 2014
July 17: Dodge was founded on this date in 1914
John and Horace Dodge were the kind of brothers who were rarely seen without each other, from their childhood messing around their father's machine shop in Niles, Mich., to their adulthood as talented machinists in Detroit.
After a number of small but successful ventures, the pair took on the job of building transmissions for Ransom E. Olds' newfangled automobile in 1901.
Henry Ford asked them to do the same for his new venture, and the brothers were so taken with his plans they agreed to not only build most of the new Ford Model A, but do so on credit, taking a share in the company instead of cash Henry Ford didn't have.
Their parts made Ford a success; their business acumen made them multimillionaires and an aggravation to Ford, who was less than fond of the hard-drinking duo that owned part of his company.
The Dodge brothers became one of the largest suppliers to Detroit's early automakers, but in their own words were "tired of being carried around in Henry Ford's vest pocket."
On this date 100 years ago, the brothers incorporated Dodge as a carmaker, a bombshell in the industry of that era.
The first Dodge — nicknamed Old Betsy — rolled off the line at the Dodge Main plant in November of 1914, and over the next seven years the brothers became a fierce competitor to Ford and General Motors.
Both would die within a year of each other in 1920, and five years later Dodge would become part of Walter P. Chrysler's growing empire.