Out now: the Autocade Yearbook 2024
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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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The Dodge brothers founded their company in 1900, with automobile manufacture commencing in 1914. After the death of the brothers in 1920, the company fell into the ownership of an investment group in 1925. Chrysler Corp. acquired Dodge in 1928, in part for its extensive dealer network. Dodge was positioned in the prewar years as a step up from Chrysler’s DeSoto brand, but fell below DeSoto after World War II. Virgil Exner became design chief in the 1950s and Dodges became more stylish. With improving sales, DeSoto was phased out in 1961, and the brand occupied the middle ground in the Chrysler group.

Dodge was a major player in the muscle-car era in the 1960s, but fell into hard times in the 1970s with the first oil crisis. It did sell captive imports from Mitsubishi in the 1970s, as well as its own compact car, the Omni. By the 1980s, Dodge had recovered along with the rest of the Chrysler group, and its performance credentials were restored that decade with a collaboration with Carroll Shelby.

Along with the rest of Chrysler, Dodge fell under the auspices of Daimler-Benz AG, which renamed itself DaimlerChrysler, in 1998. The acquisition was ultimately a failure, with the Chrysler company sold to yet another investment firm in 2007. Fiat control, though not ownership, came in 2009 to prevent the Chrysler group from disappearing altogether, with talk of model-sharing with Fiat’s Alfa Romeo brand.

Although predominantly an American brand, sold in both North and South America, Dodges have appeared in other markets, though not in a big way. When Chrysler Europe was sold to Peugeot in the 1970s, the Dodge name fell into Renault’s hands briefly. Some Hyundai models were sold with the Dodge brand in México and Venezuela.


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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024