Q:

What role did the Dodge Brothers play in shaping Detroit's early auto industry?

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Quick Answer

John and Horace Dodge designed and machined engines, parts and chassis for some of the first Detroit automobile manufacturers, including Ford and Oldsmobile. The Dodge brothers produced such high-quality motors and parts that they began their own car building company a few years later. The brothers built Dodge into the second-ranked car and light truck company in America and ran it until both brothers died in 1920. After the death of the Dodges, the company was sold to Chrysler.

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Full Answer

The Dodge brothers opened their machine shop in Detroit in 1902. Their primary intention was to machine stove parts, but they soon began contracting with the growing automotive industry and received a large amount of business because of their high-quality work.

The Dodge's first major contract was with Ransom E. Olds to produce 2,000 engines for his new curved-dash Oldsmobile. This was followed with chassis contracts for Henry Ford. The products that the brothers produced were so good that Ford chose them to be the primary supplier for its new Model T, which was released in 1910.

The Ford deal allowed them to build their own assembly plant, and with the profits, they started The Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in 1913. The brothers had become so well known that 22,000 applicants applied for distributorships before they even announced what their first car would be.

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