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Dodge Automotive Profile After the founding of the Dodge Brothers Company by Horace and John Dodge in 1900, the Detroit-based company quickly found work producing precision engine and chassis components for the city�s burgeoning number of automobile firms. Chief among these customers were the established Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the then-new Ford Motor Company. Dodge Brothers enjoyed much success in this field, but the brothers' growing wish to build complete vehicles was exemplified by John Dodge's 1913 exclamation that he was "tired of being carried around in Henry Ford's vest pocket."

By 1914, he and Horace had fixed that by creating the new four-cylinder Dodge Model 30. Pitched as a slightly more upscale competitor to the ubiquitous Ford Model T, it pioneered or made standard many features later taken for granted: all-steel body construction (when the vast majority of cars worldwide still used wood framing under steel panels, though Stoneleigh and BSA had used steel bodies as early as 1911),[1] 12-volt electrical system (6-volt systems would remain the norm up until the 1950s), and sliding-gear transmission (the best-selling Model T would retain an antiquated planetary design all the way until its demise in 1927). As a result of all this, as well as the brothers' well-earned reputation for quality through the parts they had made for other successful vehicles, Dodge cars were ranked at second place for U.S. sales as early as 1916. The same year, Henry Ford decided to stop paying dividends, leading to the Dodge brothers filing suit to protect approximately a million dollars a year they were earning;[2] this led Ford to buy out his shareholders, and the Dodges were paid some US$25 million.[3]

In the same year, Dodge vehicles won wide acclaim for durability while in service with the US Army's Pancho Villa Expedition into Mexico.[4] One notable instance was in May when the 6th Infantry received a reported sighting of Julio Cardenas, one of Villa's most trusted subordinates. Lt. George S. Patton led ten soldiers and two civilian guides in three Dodge Model 30 touring cars to conduct a raid at a ranch house in San Miguelito, Sonora. During the ensuing firefight the party killed three men, of whom one was identified as Cardenas. Patton's men tied the bodies to the hoods of the Dodges, returning to headquarters in Dubl�n and an excited reception from US newspapermen.

To fit better in Chrysler Corporation lineup, alongside low-priced Plymouth and medium-priced DeSoto, Dodge�s lineup for early 1930 was trimmed down to a core group of two lines and thirteen models (from three lines and nineteen models just over a year previous). Prices started out just above DeSoto but were somewhat less than top-of-the-line Chrysler, in a small-scale recreation of General Motors� �step-up� marketing concept. (DeSoto would eventually flip sides, moving a notch above Dodge during the early 1930s.) For late 1930, Dodge took another step up by adding a new eight-cylinder line to complement the existing Senior six-cylinder. This basic format of a dual line with Six and Eight models continued through 1934, and the cars were gradually streamlined and lengthened in step with prevailing trends of the day. A long-wheelbase edition of the remaining Six was added for 1934 and would remain a part of the lineup for many years.

The Dodge line, along with most of the Corporation�s output, was restyled in the so-called �Wind Stream� look for 1935. This was a mild form of streamlining, which saw sales jump remarkably over the previous year (even though Dodge as a whole still dropped to fifth place for the year after two years of holding down fourth). Another major restyle arrived for the 25th anniversary 1939 models, the top model of which Dodge dubbed the Luxury Liner series. These were once again completely redesigned for 1942. However, just after these models were introduced, Japan�s attack on Pearl Harbor forced the shutdown of Dodge�s passenger car assembly lines in favor of war production. Chrysler was prolific in its production of war material from 1942 to 1945, and Dodge in particular was well-known to both average citizens and thankful soldiers for their tough military-spec truck models. Starting with the hastily converted VC series and evolving into the celebrated WC series, Dodge built a strong reputation for itself that readily carried over into civilian models after the war.

Civilian production at Dodge was restarted by late 1945, in time for the 1946 model year. The �seller�s market� of the early postwar years, brought on by the lack of any new cars throughout the war, meant that every automaker found it easy to sell vehicles regardless of any drawbacks they might have. Like almost every other automaker, Dodge sold lightly facelifted revisions of its 1942 design through the 1948 season. As before, these were a single series of six-cylinder models with two trim levels (basic Deluxe or plusher Custom). Styling was not initially Dodge's strong point during this period, though that began to change by 1953 under the direction of corporate design chief Virgil Exner. At the same time, Dodge also introduced its first V8 engine�the original design of the famed Hemi. With steadily upgraded styling and ever-stronger engines every year through 1960, Dodge found a ready market for its products as America discovered the joys of freeway travel. This situation improved when Chrysler phased the failing DeSoto brand out of its lineup after 1961, leaving Dodge as the company's only line in the middle of the market.

Dodge entered the compact car field for 1961 with their new Lancer sedan (a variation on Plymouth's Valiant). Though it was not initially successful, the Dart range that came after it in 1963 would prove to be one of the division's top sellers for many years. Chrysler did make an ill-advised move to downsize the Dodge and Plymouth full-size lines for 1962, which resulted in a loss of sales. However, they turned this around in 1965 by turning those former full-sizes into "new" mid-size models; Dodge revived the Coronet nameplate in this way and later added a sporty fastback version called the Charger that became both a sales leader and a winner on the NASCAR circuit. Full-size models evolved gradually during this time. After being restored to their former dimensions for 1965, the Polara and Monaco were changed mostly in appearance for the next ten years or so. Unique "fuselage" styling was employed for 1969, then was toned down again for 1974. 1966 Dodge Coronet 440 sedanDodge is well-known today for being a player in the muscle car market of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Along with the Charger, models like the Coronet R/T and Super Bee were popular with buyers seeking performance. The pinnacle of this effort was the introduction of the Challenger sports coupe and convertible (Dodge's entry into the "pony car" class ) in 1970, which offered everything from mild economy engines up to the wild race-ready Hemi V8 in the same package.

In an effort to reach every segment of the market, Dodge even reached a hand across the Pacific to its partner Mitsubishi Motors and borrowed their subcompact Colt to compete against cars like the AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto, and Chevrolet Vega. Chrysler's relationship with Mitsubishi would prove to be very important in later years. Everything changed at Dodge (and Chrysler as a whole) when the 1973 oil crisis hit the United States. Save for the Colt and certain models of the Dart, Dodge's lineup was quickly seen as extremely inefficient. In fairness, this was true of most American automakers at the time, but Chrysler was also not in the best financial shape to do anything about it. Consequently, while General Motors and Ford were quick to begin downsizing their largest cars, Chrysler (and Dodge) moved more slowly out of necessity.

At the very least, Chrysler was able to use some of its other resources. Borrowing the recently-introduced Chrysler Horizon from their European division, Dodge was able to get its new Omni subcompact on the market fairly quickly. At the same time, they increased the number of models imported from Mitsubishi: first came a smaller Colt (based on Mitsubishi's Mitsubishi Lancer line, then a revival of the Challenger (though with nothing more than a four-cylinder under the hood, rather than the booming V8s of yore). Bigger Dodges, though, remained rooted in old habits. The Dart was replaced by a new Aspen for 1976, and Coronet and Charger were effectively replaced by the Diplomat for 1977, which was actually a fancier Aspen. Meanwhile, the huge Monaco (Royal Monaco beginning in 1977 when the mid-sized Coronet was renamed "Monaco") models hung around through 1977, losing sales every year, until finally being replaced by the St. Regis for 1979 following a one-year absence from the big car market. In a reversal of what happened for 1965, the St. Regis was an upsized Coronet. Buyers, understandably, were confused and chose to shop the competition rather than figure out what was going on at Dodge. Everything came to a head in 1979 when Chrysler's new chairman, Lee Iacocca, requested and received federal loan guarantees from the United States Congress in an effort to save the company from having to file bankruptcy. With bailout money in hand, Chrysler quickly set to work on new models that would leave the past behind (does this seem sort of deja vu today?

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