Dodge practically patented the muscle car. Little did they know they would become one of America's top Automobile manufacturers and that the Charger model, for example, particularly the 66-67 one, would trigger jaw dropping amazement at its sight. John Francis and Horace Elgin Dodge were making bikes in 1901 when they decided to move their company, the Dodge Brothers Bicycle & Machine Factory to Detroit, Michigan.
Before Cadillac would outrun Dodge in engine development years later, the Brothers were supplying car parts for many producers. Their early involvement in the process of making cars lead them to starting their own business, entering the queue for a large order of recognition and notoriety. Setting the Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle Company in 1914 brought them a step closer to the counter.
The first Dodge automobiles shared some of Ford Model T's features but outran the latter in terms of ignition and other improvements meant to ease driving. One of the major advantages Dodge offered was a smooth, electrical start rather than the sluggishly classic crank start. Built for the middle class, the cars quickly became a commercial success, mainly due the clever blend of reliable ruggedness, engine improvements and style elements.
By 1917, Dodge had produced enough cars to start thinking expanding in other car-manufacturing areas. Trucks seemed like something they could successfully take on and the Dodge truck division came to being. Dodge trucks were used by the US army during the First World War after which they kept being used as commercial vehicles.
The Dodge brothers sold their business to Dillon, Read & company for the astoundingly large sum of $146 million, said to be the largest amount in history to have been paid at the time. Dillon helmed Dodge management only for 3 years, passing the new acquisition to the Chrysler Corporation on July 31, 1928.
Due to Chrysler's financial conquests over some European automotive groups, such as the British Rootes group and the French Simca, Dodge is introduced to Europe in the 60's. Lightweight commercial vehicles are sold here under a different badge. The Dodge 50 series is fairly well received in the UK, becoming a favorite for military and utility operations.
1977 brought forth the collapse of Chrysler's European subsidiary and its adjacent Dodge branch altogether. The Dodge factory as well as some rights to use the Dodge name were purchased by Renault who resumed the production of Dodge's commercial vehicles. However, Renault only made use of the Dodge name till the 80's when it gave up control over the name rights. Only the factory was kept.
Dodge is currently part of the DaimlerChrysler group and has been lately been know for its trucks rather than retro-future stylized muscle cars as it used to be know for during the 60's and 70's. Much like any other American car builder, Dodge garnered huge amounts of success at the time with the launch of the Charger and Coronet models, to name only a few.
As far as the company's current status is concerned, trucks make the most sales, representing 78% of the division's venue. Still undergoing intensive promotion in Europe, Dodge have sought to reach the same type of customer it did back in the 70's by launching a series of mean-looking, rowdy road-tamers such as the Nitro and Caliber.