Dodge is named after its founders, John and Horace Dodge. Founded by Horace and John Dodge as the Dodge Brothers Company in 1900 the business initially supplied parts and assemblies for the growing automotive industry and didn’t begin making its own vehicles until 1915. One of Dodges original customers was the Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the then fledgling Ford Motor Company. Famously, the decision for the Dodge Brothers to enter the automotive manufacturing business was exemplified by John Dodges exclamation that he was "tired of being carried around in Henry Ford's vest pocket."
In 1914 they built a new four-cylinder Dodge called the Model 30 and marketed it as an upscale competitor to the ubiquitous Ford Model T. It had an all-steel body while most cars worldwide still had wood-framing under steel panels and was powered by a 35horsepower engine versus the Model Ts 20 horsepower. Dodge Brothers vehicles were ranked second highest in 1916. The Dodges were stockholders in Ford and in that year had to take Ford to court to get their dividend. Ford had intended to finance his new River Rouge complex through withholding stock dividends. The Dodges were paid US$2.5 million when Henry Ford chose to buy them out.
The Dodge Brothers cars continued to rank second place in American sales until 1920 when John Dodge died of pneumonia. His brother Horace then died of cirrhosis in December later that same year and the business passed into the hands of their widows who promoted long-time employee Frederick Haynes to the company presidency. During this time, the Model 30 evolved to become the new Series 116 and Dodge Brothers emerged as a leading builder of light trucks.
They also marketed trucks built by Graham Brothers of Evansville, Indiana. (The three Graham brothers went on to manufacture Graham automobiles). Never-the less sales declined over the years and by 1925 Dodge had dropped to fifth place in the industry by 1925. The Dodge widows sold out to Dillon, Read & co for US$146 million which, at the time, was the largest cash transaction in American history. Dillon, Read & Co were able to raise $160 million from stock sales but kept all the voting stock themselves as well as reaping a $14 million (net) profit. From this, they acquired a 51% interest in Graham Brothers in 1925. The following year they purchased the remaining 49% and appointed the three Graham brothers, Robert, Joseph and Ray into management position within the Dodge organisation. They reportedly all left within a year and Dodge Brothers was in turn sold to the Chrysler Corporation in 1928.
Ever since the beginning of its history in 1914, Dodge had offered light truck models. Initially they were based largely on existing passenger car design but, as the market matured, they eventually gained their own chassis and body designs. A heavy-duty range was added during the 1930s and 1940s. After WWII and the success of Dodges 4WDs a civilian version was introduced. It was called the Power Wagon.
Dodge was also among the first truck manufacturers to introduce car-like features to its trucks range. This included the plush ‘Adventurer’ package of the 1960s and sedan-like space in its Club Cab bodies of the 1970s. Dodge dropped its medium and heavy range in the 1970s due to declining sales in an increasingly competitive market. The LCF, Bighorn, D-Series and the S-Series school bus were all gone. Even so, Dodge produced some memorable trucks in the 70s including the ‘Adult Toy’ range with the limited edition Lil Red Express, the Warlock and the Macho Power Wagon.
Continuing financial problems saw even Dodges light-duty models (renamed as the Ram Pickup line from 1981) remain without any real modification until 1993. Increased sales are credited to the introduction of Cummins’ powerful and reliable B Series turbo-diesel engine as an option in 1989 making it ideal for truck buyers who needed power for towing or large loads. A mid-size Dakota pickup, which later offered a class-exclusive V8 engine was also popular.
Dodge re-entered the Australian market in 2006 after a 30-year absence amid plans to release a new model every six months for the next three years re-igniting Australia’s enthusiasm for the Dodge brand. The Dodge Caliber was well received in 2006 was the Nitro, followed by the Avenger and Journey. Along with Fargo and De Soto, Dodge were the first trucks to be assembled in Australia with a high level of Australian content. They were assembled by T.J. Richards and Sons in Adelaide. First established 1935, the company also manufactured the first all-Australian truck cab. The company later became Chrysler Australia.
The Dodge truck was one of the best known and most popular trucks in the medium to heavy duty range in Australia, the Dodge Canter and the later Fuso models being used in a wide variety of applications. Smaller operators of the early 1960s placed their preferences with American marques, Dodge and International. The Dodge 760 fitted with a 360 cubic inch V8 petrol motor was a popular vehicle on the eastern seaboard in single drive, bogie trailer applications. However, at four miles a gallon they were un economical to operate and were soon discarded with the arrival of the diesel engines. The most common option for a diesel-engined Dodge was the V8 Cummins. Similarly, the smaller International trucks, such as the C-Line 80, were fitted with Cummins diesel engines, although these were generally the smaller six-cylinder 160 Cummins.
Dodge Logos Over the Years
Star: The original Dodge was a circle, with two interlocking triangles forming a six-pointed star in the middle; an interlocked "DB" was at the center of the star, and the words "Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicles" encircled the outside edge. Although the "Brothers" was dropped from the name for trucks in 1929 and cars in 1930, the DB star remained in the cars until the 1939 models were introduced.
Ram: For 1932 Dodge cars adopted a leaping ram as the car's hood ornament. Starting with the 1940 models the leaping ram became more streamlined and by 1951 only the head, complete with curving horns, remained. The 1954 model cars were the last to use the ram's head before the rebirth in the 1980s. Dodge trucks adopted the ram as the hood ornament for the 1940 model year with the 1950 models as the last.
Crest: For 1941 Dodge introduced a crest, supposedly the Dodge family crest. The design had four horizontal bars broken in the middle by one vertical bar with an "O" in the center. A knight's head appeared at the top of the emblem. Although the head would be dropped for 1955, the emblem would survive through 1957 and reappear on the 1976 Aspen. The crest would be used through to 1981 on its second time around, being replaced by the Pentastar for 1982. The knight's head without the crest would be used for 1959.
Forward Look: Virgil Exner's radical "Forward Look" redesign of Chrysler Corporation's vehicles for the 1955 model year was emphasized by the adoption of a logo by the same name, applied to all Chrysler Corporation vehicles. The Forward Look logo consisted of two overlapped boomerang shapes, suggesting space age rocket-propelled motion. This logo was incorporated into Dodge advertising, decorative trim, ignition and door key heads, and accessories through September 1962.
Fratzog: Dodge's logo from September 1962 through 1981 was a fractured deltoid composed of three arrowhead shapes forming a three-pointed star. The logo first appeared on the 1962 Polara 500 and the mid-year 1962 Custom 880. One of its designers came up with the meaningless name Fratzog for the logo, which ultimately stuck. As the Dodge Division's logo, Fratzog was incorporated in various badges and emblems on Dodge vehicles. It was also integrated into the design of such parts as steering wheel center hubs and road wheel covers.
Pentastar: From 1982 to 1995, Dodge used Chrysler's Pentastar logo on its cars and trucks to replace the Dodge crest, although it had been used for corporate recognition since late 1962. In advertisements and on dealer signage, Dodge's Pentastar was red, while Chrysler-Plymouth's was blue.
Ram's head: Dodge reintroduced the ram's head hood ornament on the new 1973 Dodge Bighorn heavy duty tractor units. Gradually the ram's head began appearing on the pickup trucks as Dodge began to refer to their trucks as Ram. The present iteration of the Ram's-head logo appeared in 1993, standardizing on that logo in 1996 for all vehicles except the Viper which is using the Viper's Head
New logo: In 2010, with the separation of the Ram brand, two new Dodge logos were unveiled. The first logo features the word "DODGE" with two inclined stripes. It was originally used strictly for marketing purposes; however it will be used in the grille of the upcoming revival of the Dodge Dart.