Dodge celebrates 100th anniversary

Dodge brothers Horace and John take ride in first 1914 Dodge automobile. (Dodge photos)
Dodge brothers Horace and John take ride in first 1914 Dodge automobile. (Dodge photos)

Dodge this summer is observing its 100th anniversary as an American car company.

Henry Ford provided the means for two Dodge brothers to eventually form their own automobile company, 100 years ago.

To lead off an historical look at the Dodge firm with a mention of Henry Ford is fitting, for Ford’s great success in the period from 1905 to 1914 was due in large part to Dodge brothers, Horace and John.

Horace, a skilled mechanic, and John, a brilliant financier, were considered the best machinists in Detroit. In fact, Ransom Eli Olds of Oldsmobile in 1902 contracted with the brothers to make transmissions for his curved-dash Oldsmobile.

Then Henry Ford, with a big idea but small funds, gave Horace and John a 10 percent stake in Ford Motor Company to join his venture. Dodge manufactured most every part of the early Fords except for the buckboard wooden seats and rubber tires.

Through the Ford share, the Dodges became wealthy, and in 1913 announced that they would stop building Model T’s and would design, build and sell their own car.

Dodge Brothers was formed in July of 1914 and on Nov. 14 of that year, the first Dodge rolled off the assembly line. It was the first with an all-steel body. “Better than the Model T in every way,” said Horace, “and only $100 more.”

A brief timeline for Dodge;

Dodge became part of Chrysler Corp. in 1928; Power Wagon trucks were introduced a decade later; the Red Ram Hemi was introduced in late 1952, the first V-8 for Dodge; push-button transmission showed up in ’56 and large tail fins in ’57; Richard Petty gave Dodge numerous wins in NASCAR racing; muscle cars in late ‘60s and early ‘70s were named Charger and Challenger; Omni in 1978 was first transverse-mounted front-wheel-drive vehicle in America; Dodge Caravan took control of the emerging minivan market in ’84; a preproduction Viper paced the Indy 500 in ’91. Lining up in the coming year is the Challenger SRT with a Hemi Hellcat engine of more than 600 horsepower.

Push-button drive appeared in 1956 Dodge.
Push-button drive appeared in 1956 Dodge.

One hundred years after the first ride by the Dodge brothers, the nameplate is represented by large dealerships all over the state, with recognizable names such as Cherry Creek Dodge and Christopher’s Dodge World. Some years back, a big store was Hugh Tighe Skyline Dodge and way back, beginning in the late 1930s and continuing for 40 years as a Dodge dealer was Markley Motors in Fort Collins, before becoming a General Motors operator.

Today, there are 26 Dodge dealerships in Colorado:

  • AutoNation Dodge in Centennial
  • AutoNation Dodge in Littleton
  • Berthod Dodge in Glenwood Springs
  • Brandon Dodge on Broadway in Denver
  • Cherry Creek Dodge in Denver
  • Christopher’s Dodge in Golden
  • City Auto Plaza in Canon City
  • Colorado Springs Dodge
  • Flower Motor Co., Montrose
  • Fort Collins Dodge
  • Grand Junction Dodge
  • John Elway Dodge in Greeley
  • Johnson Auto Plaza in Brighton
  • Korf Continental in Yuma
  • Limon Dodge
  • Medved Dodge in Castle Rock
  • Larry H. Miller Dodge in Thornton
  • Morehart Murphy Auto Center in Durango
  • New Country Auto Center in Cortez
  • Perkins Motor Co. in Colorado Springs
  • Pueblo Dodge
  • Steamboat Motors in Steamboat Springs
  • Valley Dodge in Boulder
  • Victory Motors in Craig
  • Vista Dodge in Silverthorne
  • Wolf Auto Center in Sterling
1987 Dodge Caravan shows its extended length.
1987 Dodge Caravan shows its extended length.