Dodge Through The 1930s
Dodge's first vehicle was the four-cylinder Model 30. The Model 30 featured an all-steel body and a sliding gear transmission. It sold well and other early model Dodges, including a roadster and a four-door sedan, were introduced. A line of trucks soon followed. It was also around this time that the U.S. military adopted Dodge vehicles and during World War I as they were utilized as ambulances and staff transport.
Dodge Brothers Motors got off to a strong start in the industry, and by 1916, they were producing the second best-selling vehicles in the United States. However, the success of the Dodge brothers would be short-lived. John Dodge succumbed to pneumonia in January 1920, and Horace died later the same year. The brother's widows appointed long-time employee, Frederick Haynes as president.
Dodge stagnated under Haynes' rule and was briefly sold to an investment firm before eventually being acquired by Chrysler in 1928. After becoming a subsidiary for Chrysler, Dodge was ultimately molded into the division that produced tough trucks and performance-minded cars.
In 1939, Dodge released the Luxury Liner series which lasted until 1942 when war-production needs forced Dodge to discontinue its production of passenger cars.
Dodge After World War II
Dodge produced many well-received vehicles in the decades following World War II. Vehicles like the Dodge Dart, Lancer, and Coronet became classic vehicles of the 1950s and early 1960s era. It was also during this period that Dodge introduced the powerful Hemi V-8 engine that would go on to power so many of its muscle cars.
The Dodge Dart became one of the most popular cars in the U.S. during the 1960s. Other models like the Custom 880 also sold well during that time period, and by the end of the decade, Dodge was producing iconic American muscle cars like the Dodge Charger with its 318-cubic-inch V-8 engine. Buyers could also opt for an even more powerful 426-cubic-inch version that offered 425 hp.
In 1970, Dodge released the smaller but powerful Challenger. However, like most American automakers, Dodge felt their fortunes flag in the early 1970s. The Middle East oil crisis caused many American drivers to rethink their big Detroit gas-guzzlers, and government regulations caused many automobile companies to reshuffle the deck as they were forced to reclassify their current compact cars as midsize and begin producing smaller compacts.
Dodge survived through government bailout money, and in the early 1980s, the company reversed its fortunes by producing more compact, economical vehicles like the Omni and the Aries that became fairly popular with American drivers. However, Dodge was on the verge of a major innovation at the time; in 1984, with the release of the Caravan, they created a whole new vehicle class: the minivan.
The Caravan and like-vehicles went on to replace the station wagons that had been popular with American families since the late 1940s. With relatively good fuel economy and capability of seating up to seven people and cargo, the Caravan put Dodge back in the driver's seat.
Other successful vehicles soon followed, and in the early 1990s, the company unveiled the all-new Ram pickup, which was also well received. Other successful Dodge models during the 1990s included sport-minded vehicles like the Daytona, the Lancer, and the V-10 powered Viper.
Dodge's parent company, Chrysler was acquired by German automaker Daimler-Benz in 1998. The new company, known as DaimlerChrysler, discontinued the Plymouth brand; therefore, Dodge repositioned on the U.S. market as DaimlerChrysler's low price subdivision, producing performance cars and trucks.
Current Dodge models include cars like the Avenger, Challenger, and Charger, all of which feature performance as a key selling point.
Dodge also produces the Durango midsize SUV and the Journey, which is a midsize crossover vehicle. The Caravan minivan is still currently being produced, and the company also reintroduced the Dart brand to replace the compact Caliber in 2012.
Dodge Products and Technologies
Dodge is regarded as one of the first names in the automotive industry when it comes to power and performance. The continuing success of the Dodge brand is exemplified in classic muscle cars like the Charger and Challenger, which continue to sell well today. The Caravan is still regarded as one of the most versatile and dependable minivans on the market. Dodge has managed to maintain its position as a trusted producer of trucks and performance vehicles while simultaneously expanding into the low-price market.