In 1901, two Canadian brothers named John Francis Dodge and Horace Eglin Dodge shifted their bicycle factory from Ontario to Detroit. Once settled, they turned their attention to the new field in engineering of that day: They began to produce parts for the new automobiles, including Oldsmobiles, and did very well. One year after beginning to manufacture car parts, a certain mechanic named Henry Ford approached them about putting up some finance so that he, too, could open an automotive factory. The Dodge brothers agreed, and in return, they were contracted to build parts such as suspensions, brakes, gearboxes and engines for Henry Ford to use in his company.
In 1914, the Dodge brothers decided to have a go themselves, so they founded the Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle Company. After designing and producing a reliable and rugged car named “Old Betsy,” they carefully selected a range of dealers who would have the privilege of selling this work of engineering craftsmanship.
World War One posed no problems for US-based automotive producers like Dodge. In fact, the USA’s involvement in the war led to increased business for Dodge as they were contracted to build trucks for the army to use.
In the late 1920s, the Dodge company was bought by the Chrysler corporation. This allowed the Dodge company to open factories in France, Spain and Britain. Most notably, Dodge took over the production of Commer vans. The Spanish-based Dodge factories produced big heavy trucks, which continue to be a significant part of Dodge’s market – Dodge trucks can be seen throughout Australia today hauling loads and providing essential logistics for companies who need to get goods from their headquarters in, say, Sydney to subsidiaries in Perth and elsewhere.
Dodge Australia chooses pleasingly distinctive and aggressive names for its vehicles, with some models rejoicing in names like T-Rex, Tomahawk (motorbike), Sidewinder and Razor. The Dodge Viper is a muscle car with real attitude that has seen it feature in popular media streams like video games and music videos.
Dodge has recently looked at re-introducing its cars into the Australian market, the Dodge Caliber being the first of the reintroduced models (the old Dodge Phoenix lasted in the Australian until 1973; the name of this model now having a delightful double meaning: the Dodge model is rising again like a phoenix from the ashes). This model was launched at the 2006 Melbourne Motor show. More are being planned for release in the Australian market at a target rate of two new models a year for three years. Watch our list of models for updates!
The logo you’ll find on Dodge cars at the dealers today is the head of bighorn ram, suggesting the raw brute power of many Dodge models. This logo also echoes the name of one of the Dodge models, the Dodge Ram. However, this is not the only logo that has been emblazoned on the front bonnets of Dodge bonnets in the past. Previous logos used by the Dodge Australia company have included the two interlocking triangles (similar to the Star of David design) used by the founders and the “Fratzog”, which was the name coined for a triangle made out of three arrowheads. The aluminium ram’s heads used on the grilles of Dodge trucks were frequently stolen by hoods wanting a distinctive bit of “bling” with tough-guy overtones. The ram’s head is now incorporated into a flat badge.
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