If you’re a car enthusiast, you know all about the “Dodge” brand over the decades. But, what so you really know about the Dodge Brothers, the duo behind the iconic American name?
- Before striking out on their own, the Dodge brothers, John and Horace, worked for a variety of different companies as machinists. Starting with bicycles and then finding their way into the automotive business, they started designing and producing parts for various cars. The owner of Oldsmobile recruited them to build engines, transmissions, and axles. But the Dodge brothers soon gave up their existing clients after accepting an attractive bid from the Ford Co.
- Ford was trying to produce a new model, and as the legend goes, the Dodge brothers helped re-engineer the car to turn it into a huge hit. They were responsible for building almost every part of the Model T, but Henry Ford did not seem to appreciate their input about improvements for the vehicle. So the brothers decided to break away and start their own business.
- The Detroit elite turned out to be an unwelcoming crowd when John and Horace Dodge were trying to establish themselves as newcomers. Horace was denied entry to the local country club, which prompted him to build an enormous, over-the-top mansion on a piece of land directly next to it.
- As the Dodge Brothers Company was growing and seeing success, fate stepped in and everything changed. During a visit to New York, John Dodge caught pneumonia and passed away shortly thereafter. His brother also fell ill and died several months later. With their unexpected deaths happening so close to one another, the business was left in the hands of their wives. The widows decided to sell the Dodge Brothers Company to an investment bank, and they received $146 million from the sale.
- With her second husband, Alfred Wilson, John Dodge’s widow decided to build a 110-room mansion that cost four million dollars. The 88,000- square foot masterpiece was constructed in Michigan. In 1957, the couple donated their estate, everything inside, and the expansive land lot to Oakland University.
If you currently own or have ever driven a Dodge, you know that they are great cars, but who knew that the Dodge Brothers had such an amazing history? Now, we can still see their hard work and ingenuity in today’s Dodges and that’s why they will live forever in our minds.
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Sources: Wikipedia, GM and Wall St. Journal