For just over a century, "Dodge" has signified a lot more than just a city where cheating at poker was a really bad idea. The Dodge motor company has starred in movies, invented a word, and helped fight both foreign armies and bandits (who incidentally also drove Dodges). Yes, there’s more. Yes, you should read all about it.
More From American Tales
1. The Dodge Brothers started out making bicycles
Their first venture together: the Evans & Dodge Bicycle Company in Windsor, Canada. Because when you think “bicycles” you think “Canada.”
2. Horace Dodge made bicycle riding better
He received Patent #567,851 for a dirt-resistant bicycle bearing in 1896. All bike bearings are now made with this concept in mind, so put some ram-themed tassels on your fixie out of respect.
3. Then, yep, they made stoves
After closing the bicycle shop in 1900, the Dodge brothers founded a machine shop. Their first foray? The pair got cooking, which is to say they made mechanical parts for stoves. They probably also cooked meals at some point because eating is important to life.
4. Dodge helped create the first mass-produced American car
But because stoves are only 74% as cool as cars, the bros went on to manufacture car parts, including, in 1910, parts for the Model T. Just minor stuff though, like the engine, axles, and transmissions -- basically everything but the body.
5. People wanted to sell Dodge cars before the cars existed
Based purely on the brothers' reputation, over 22,000 would-be business moguls applied to open Dodge dealerships before the details about their first independent automobile were released November 1914. Those selected were quickly rewarded -- Dodge became one of the top-selling firms in America by 1916.
6. Dodge cars were used in the first “mechanical” cavalry in US history
In 1916, Lt. George Patton Jr. led the first mechanized cavalry charge in US Army history against Pancho Villa. He went with just three Dodge touring cars and 15 soldiers. Ultimately, Villa was shot by a pumpkinseed seller in his, wait for it, 1919 Dodge Roadster. Later, during WWII, Dodge would produce cars and trucks for the military, and via a specially purposed Chicago plant, provide engines for the B29 Superfortress. Patton also did a few things during that war.
7. And the Dodge Viper was a crime-fighting secret weapon
The Dodge Viper isn’t really a transfiguring under-cover assault vehicle, but it did play one on TV, in the 1990s series “Viper" -- probably the most satisfying conclusion to a desperate "hey guys, what are we going to call this show?" conversation ever.
8. Speaking of the Viper, Lamborghini designed the engine of the first model
A beast V10 that put out 400hp in 1991. This was a car built for one thing: speed. Dodge didn’t even add air conditioning until 1994, probably because sitting in a Viper automatically makes you super cool.
9. The General Lee was not the first on-screen appearance of the Charger
That would be the notorious getaway car in Crazy Mary Dirty Larry, starring a post-Easy Rider Peter Fonda. Those Duke boys wouldn’t be getting up to their shenanigans until 1979.
10. Dodge cars have inspired your favorite musicians
The best example has got to be Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Outta Hell in My Dodge.” But others, from Frank Zappa (in “Joe’s Garage”) to Bruce Springsteen (in both “Jungleland and “The Promise”), have sung about Dodge cars, and Johnny Cash got into the act by writing “The General Lee” for the Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack ("I'm a charger that charges through the night...").
11. Dodge may have invented the word “dependability”
In 1914, a PR man for Dodge, Theodore MacManus decided the adjective “dependable” was boring. So he made it a noun and, boom, “dependability” was born. Okay, technically the OED claims that the first instance of “dependability” occurred in 1901, but at the very least it didn't take off until MacManus' print campaign. As for whether he'd seen the then-obscure term used or came up with it independently, who knows? Communicating with ghosts is really hard.
12. Dodge invented the first winterized car
Around the same year they (maybe) invented a word, Dodge (definitely) rolled out a whip fit for winter with a removable hardtop and snap-on side glass.
13. The Dodge logo was something called the fratzog for two decades
From 1962-1981, the Dodge logo was made up of three interlocking triangles, a geometrical arrangement called a "Fratzog". The term was supposedly coined by the designer of the symbol because nobody else could think of a better name -- a fallback option that should hereinafter be known as a "total Fratzog move."
14. The first all-steel body car was a Dodge
In 1914, Dodge produced the first all-steel whip. By 1916, Dodge would produce 70,000 all-steel touring car bodies. That’s how you build something to last. Well, that or with unobtanium, but that’s not real… or is it!?
15. Dodge made a car (marketed) just for women
In 1950, Dodge introduced the La Femme (yes, we said “the The.” You were rushing to the comments, weren’t you? Ha!), which included rosebud-dotted upholstery and even came with a purse. While it didn’t have great sales, it’s been retroactively hailed as a move towards gender equality. Baby steps here, people.
16. …and one just for Texans
In 1956, Dodge released a special version of their Coronet only for sale in Texas called, what else, the Coronet Texan, complete with special “Texan” badges in select locations and a slightly more luxurious interior than the base Coronet. Interestingly, because certain states in that era had different regulations regarding headlights, the Texan didn’t feature the Coronet's “quad headlight” look, but had two lights designed to mimic it. Hey, someone just found that car nerdery really interesting so BACK OFF.
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