At the start of the 1900’s, the Dodge brothers had moved and set up business in Detroit where they produced transmissions briefly for Ransom E. Olds, then supplied Ford with chassis. They ventured into car production and built their first Dodge “Old Betsy” in 1914, which became an instant success.
In February 1903 the Dodge Brothers were contracted to supply Henry Ford with chassis’, engines, transmissions and axles. This resulted in their working exclusively for Ford and owning 100 shares in the newly formed Ford Motor Company. The first chassis was delivered by horse-drawn hay racks. Ford often complained that the Dodge workers turned out shoddy products because they were paid by the piece. Despite these problems, he ordered another 755 engines for delivery in January through May 1904, and insisted on the right to order 500 more by early April. The Dodge’s continued to supply Ford until 1914 and retained their shares in the company which became very profitable for them.
Owning a thirty-acre site in Hamtramck, in 1910 the Dodge brothers began building a new plant. They were concerned about their total dependence on one customer and also felt it was time to expand. Furthermore, they had decided to manufacture and assemble their own vehicles.
Their reputation for delivering quality was so widespread that even before the Dodge “Old Betsy” was released or seen, 13,000 car dealers requested to become agents. The Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record stated: “that when the Dodge Brothers car comes out, there is no question that it will be the best thing on the market for the money as the Dodge Brothers are the two best mechanics in Michigan”.
They decided to produce a high-quality car and not directly compete with the cheaper Model T Ford. The first car rolled off the assembly line in November 1914 as a five-passenger touring car with a 25 horsepower four-cylinder L head engine with a 3 ⅞ inch bore and a 4 ½ inch stroke, a cone clutch, and a pressurized fuel system. All parts for the car were thoroughly tested before being released. The total production for 1914 was 249 touring cars. The workforce also grew from 7,000 in early 1915 to about 20,000 by 1920.
Walter P. Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928 as part of a challenge to General Motors and Ford making it the third largest automaker. Dodge was to become the largest division within the Chrysler Corporation. It is an interesting fact that Dodge has manufactured most of the pickup trucks seen on the road. Intending to restyle their B-Body lineup for 1968, they came up with a double-diamond design, often referred to later as “coke bottle” as the curves around the front fenders and the rear quarter panels resembled the styling of a coke bottle.