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Dodge history is all about twists and turns. It was marked with a huge success at inception, struggling times midway, and the revival of ancient glory nowadays. Much of its existence, an American-based automaker had to run business under the management of Chrysler. For more than a century Dodge has been rejoicing customers worldwide with comfortable sedans, sport utility vehicles, commodious pickups and vans as well as multifunction trucks. Let’s take a look at its most prominent achievements.
Since the inception in 1900, the Dodge Brothers Company has been one of the major suppliers of chassis and precision engines for a number of novice American automakers. It was not earlier than 1914 that Horace and John Dodge produced their proprietary four-cylinder vehicle, called Model 30. The latter was differentiated by all-steel construction, an integrated electrical system, a sliding-gear transmission, which in combination gave 35 horsepower. A couple of years later, the company was ranked the second for the US sales volume.
However, in 1920 both founding brothers passed away and the brand faced a range of misfortunes. As a consequence, the business went up to their widows who subsequently sold it to Dillon, Read & Co. for some $146 million – the largest financial transaction at the time. In 1925 Dodge acquired Graham Brothers, Inc., an erstwhile car manufacturer. Still, in 1928, when the brand collapsed to the 7th position in the market, Chrysler Corporation acquired it to make an official subsidiary.
Upon the acquisition, Dodge has released a line of eight-cylinder cars, and then proceeded with the restyling of previous lineups, adding some innovative facilities to them. During WWII period, it stopped producing all passenger models, switching to the military units, such as ambulances (WC54) and military-spec trucks. In post-war period the team focused mainly on styling of passenger vehicles. The ‘Forward Look’ concept presupposed the integration of ever-stronger engines and a more sophisticated design.
‘Muscle’ Cars Era
In late 1960s Dodge entered into the muscle car market. It introduced Charger, Super Bee, Coronet R/T models which became a real hit among performance-oriented drivers. However, the brand’s greatest success was a sports coupe and convertible, called Challenger; it offered everything a sophisticated customer could desire, starting from mild-economy gears and finishing with race-driven V8 engines.
DaimlerChrysler and Fiat Influence
In 1998 Dodge as a subsidiary of Chrysler entered into a merger with Daimler-Benz AG. The move resulted in the discontinuation of Dodge’s ‘sister’ Plymouth brand and the downgrade of the automaker’s level to the low-price segment. During this period, the team has updated Intrepid, Neon and Stratus models, and launched the Magnus station wagon. In addition, it introduced the Caliber subcompact in cooperation with Mitsubishi as a substitute for Neon and Avenger.
In 2009 Chrysler (and Dodge included) merged with Fiat. Since that time, the automaker has focused only on high-performance vehicles which position themselves between Chrysler and Alfa Romeo brands. Besides, it was going to discontinue the historic Grand Caravan and the Avenger production line, paying special attention to future concept cars.
Trucks, Vans & Other Vehicles
In 2009 Dodge trucks were fully disintegrated into Ram brand. According to the Ram president, this was a marketing move rather than a separation. Dodge cars should have stayed innovative, young and energetic, while Ram trucks should have served specific needs of specific customers. Despite the disintegration, all truck models continue using a unified corporate emblem.
In 1964 an already renowned automaker settled down to the production of vans. Marked under A Series, the vans were based on Dart platform and came equipped with a six-cylinder/V8 gear. A few years later, the B Series was launched; it consisted of Sportsman passenger and Tradesman cargo models.
For a long time Dodge performed strongly in minivan market. Its Aries and Caravan models gave push to the development of minivan segment in the USA. In the end, the company is well-known for the design of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), including Town Wagon, Ramcharger, and Durango, which were peculiar by a superb performance and an enhanced comfort.
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