The first Dodge car was a 1915 model. The car was positioned ahead of the Ford Model T and did offer more and sales were good. Prior to that the Dodge Brothers had produced parts for the first half million Ford Model T's. The Dodge brothers also built parts for Oldsmobile and other manufacturers and were known for their quality. There was quite a stir in Detroit when word hit the street that the Dodge Brothers would begin building automobiles themselves in 1914.
The Dodge Brothers
During the First World War, Dodge had a government contract which resulted in them producing about 20,000 half-ton chassis cowls, cargo trucks, ambulances and repair trucks. During the war, the military ambulance had become well known, Dodge built it's first truck in 1917. This was the Dodge Brothers half-ton Screenside Commercial Car. This was essentially a converted military ambulance. It was built on a 114.0 inch wheelbase on an automobile chassis. Six months after the Screenside was introduced Dodge brought out the half-ton truck known as the Commercial Panel.
Both Dodge brothers passed away during 1920. This occurred during the infancy of their auto manufacturing endeavor. It was said that neither had a big interest in commercial vehicles while at the helm of the company.
In 1923 the Dodge company under the new president Frederick Haynes built a three-quarter ton truck on a 116.0 inch wheelbase. Haynes was instrumental in Dodge taking a much larger role in commercial truck production. Something that may not have been possible had the two Dodge brothers lived.
Dodge and the Graham Brothers
This is where the Graham Brothers of Evansville Indiana entered the picture. If you talk about the very early years of Dodge Truck production you have to tell the story about the Grahams Brothers and Dodge. The early Dodge truck story is one story about two different companies.
Graham had done conversions for other automakers and soon began their own manufacturing business. A contract the Graham's signed with Frederick Haynes in 1921, one year after the Dodge brother's sudden deaths, for all intents and purposes made the Graham Brothers into a division of Dodge. The Grahams would build one ton and one and one-half ton trucks at their factory in Evansville. The parts would be supplied by Dodge. The vehicles produced by Graham would be serviced at existing Dodge Car dealerships.
The Graham Brothers connection with Dodge was relatively short lived. In 1925 the widows of John and Horace Dodge sold the company which ended the Graham partnership as such. What actually happened was that in 1925 Dodge bought a controlling interest in the Graham Brothers company. In 1925, Graham built a one-ton and one and a half-ton pickup.
Dodge was first sold to the Dillon, Read & Company in 1925 and then sold to Chrysler in 1928. Dodge sold full sized automobiles and trucks through the 1970's. Dodge prospered quite well over the next decades with the help of Chrysler improvements.
Early Dodge Truck Specifications
As mentioned above, the early Dodge Trucks were built on elongated automobile frames. During the first ten years or so Dodge produced medium to light trucks. During the 1930's and 40's they added heavy duty trucks.
Dodge Trucks of the early to mid 1920's were powered by four cylinder engines. These were 212 cubic inch engines that delivered 35 horsepower and were coupled with a three speed manual transmission.
As mentioned above, the first Dodge Truck had a 114.0 inch wheelbase and a second was added with a 116.0 inch wheelbase.
The 1924 Dodge 3/4 ton pickup was actually built by the Graham Brothers in Evansville Indiana but was named a Dodge. Today these are considered very rare vehicles. Not a lot of them around. The load space was 71.0 inches long 44.5 inches wide.
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