About DodgeStarting out as parts suppliers and industrial assemblers in 1900, the Dodge Brothers branched out and began manufacturing their own vehicles in 1914. When asked why he wanted to build his own vehicle, John Dodge responded, "Just think of all the Ford owners who will someday want an automobile". It wasn't the first time the brothers battled with Henry Ford; they had ten percent ownership of Ford and seats on the board of directors prior to starting their own car company.
Approximately 22,000 firms applied to be Dodge dealers before the first Model 30 rolled off the line. Within two years, Dodge was the third-largest car company in the United States. By 1920, Dodge ranked second for American car sales.
The deaths of the brothers in 1920 lead to a period of ownership... View more turnover. Dillon, Read, & Co. bought Dodge for $146 million in 1925--at the time the largest cash transaction in U.S. history--which lead to acquiring the truck manufacturer Graham Brothers.
July 31, 1928 saw Dodge purchased for $170 million by the 5-year old Chrysler Corporation. On the very next day, signs reading "Chrysler Corporation--Dodge Division" were posted at the factories.
The following years saw Dodge in varying slots in the Chrysler hierarchy. Styling was not a priority for Dodge designs--until corporate design chief Virgil Exner took control in 1953. The "Forward Look" styling would prove to be some of the most outrageous of the '50s.
Dodge features a prominent place in muscle car lore. Hemi, Max Wedge, and 440 Six Pack engines powered Mopar metal to multiple NHRA and NASCAR championships. A dedicated fan base formed around the Charger, Coronet, Dart, Super Bee, and Challenger muscle cars. Dodge's late entry to the pony car market, the Challenger, sold a total of 165,500 cars in a five-year run from 1970 to 1974.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Dodge truck sales grew a staggering 237%. But their biggest selling point wouldn't happen until 1989, when a Cummins turbo diesel engine was shoehorned into the Dodge Ram. It was an industry first to use a turbocharger and direct injection diesel in a pickup.
The 1973 oil crisis hit the U.S. auto industry hard, and the entire Chrysler Corporation was unable to downsize quickly enough to keep up with the competition. Shortly after Lee Iacocca's 1979 request for federal loan guarantees, the K-Car program rolled out. Dodge got the corporate ship afloat again with popular cars, such as the Aries, Spirit, and ultimately, the Caravan--which launched the minivan concept in America. Perhaps the biggest leap Dodge was able to make after its 1980s financial recovery was the creation and unveiling of the powerful Dodge Viper in 1991.
Several ownership changes have occurred in the last 15 years. A merger of corporate giants Chrysler and Daimler-Benz AG happened in 1998. In 2007, the Chrysler Group--which includes Dodge--was sold to Cerberus Capital Management. Fiat increased its stake in the new Chrysler Group LLC to 25% in January 2011, after gaining an initial 20% share in Chrysler's government-backed bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. View less
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