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Automotive History Meets thIn the mid-1800s, two boys were born to a hardworking couple in Niles, Michigan. John Francis and Horace Dodge grew up helping their father, Daniel, in his busy shop repairing marine engines. The boys quickly took to the trade and after the family moved a couple of times to Battle Creek and then Port Huron; they eventually settled in Detroit around 1886. John and Horace leveraged their considerable skills into machine shop jobs at boiler and typography companies, but their future held something on a much grander scale.

From Bikes to the Big Time

The intrepid brothers were inseparable and, as the 1800s came to a close, they partnered with a like-minded friend names Frederick Evans, and formed the Evans & Dodge bicycle company. The company's calling card was ball bearings, invented and patented by Horace, that were highly resistant to dirt and grime and wouldn't clog or freeze up. Not keen to sit still, however, the brothers soon left the bicycle business and opened a machine shop manufacturing parts for kitchen stoves.

Everyone knew the Dodge brothers delivered quality and the duo shifted their focus to the rapidly growing automotive industry, creating engines, chassis frames, and transmissions. It wasn't long before they scored big contracts with Ford and Oldsmobile, two powerhouse car companies. In fact, Ransom Olds personally hired the Dodges to make special engines for his cars.

The Ford Story

In their 10-year tenure supplying parts to the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford at one time was unable to pay the brothers cash and gifted them company stock instead, which soon made them 10 percent owners in the company. Horace and John helped produce Ford's Model Ts and John spent some time as the company's vice president.

The Dodge brothers eventually left Ford and started the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in 1913, complete with an on-site test track; the only one of its kind in the industry. The Dodge Model 30, a four-cylinder touring car with a 12-volt electrical system and 35 horsepower, became a direct competitor to Ford's Model T. Nearly 250 Model 30s were sold the first year and 45,000 the next. Dodge dealers soon sprang up all over the country and several years later the company added truck to its lineup and supplied parts and vehicles to the U.S. military.

In Conclusion

With humble beginnings repairing boat motors, the Dodge Brothers built one of the world's most well-known auto brands. Three years after their deaths, Walter Chrysler purchased the company to create the world's third-largest automaker.

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