John F. Dodge

Inducted 1997

“We’re brothers and we always work together.”

John and Horace Dodge were lifelong friends and business partners who established one of the first major automotive suppliers and an iconic American car brand. Both brothers were born in Niles, Michigan. John, the elder of the two brothers, was born in 1864, while Horace was born in 1868. The brothers were practically inseparable as children as well as adults. They once told a prospective employer “We’re brothers and we always work together.” Their mechanical curiosity was fostered by their father, who operated a foundry and machine shop. They worked side-by-side in their father’s shop and learned the machinist trade.

After honing their skills on bicycles and ball bearings, they moved to Detroit and established their own machine shop to serve the growing auto industry. Their first major contract came in 1901 via fellow Hall of Fame Inductee Ransom Olds. Olds was in dire need of outside help after a fire at the Oldsmobile factory destroyed much of his inventory. The brothers were able to provide Olds with 3,000 transmissions, and quickly established a reputation for quality and dependability as a supplier. Their reliability caught the attention of another Detroit auto magnate and Hall of Fame Inductee; Henry Ford. In 1903 they contracted with Ford to become his exclusive supplier, a relationship that would last over a decade. John Dodge would also serve as vice president of Ford, and the brother’s astute business dealings made them dominate players in the automotive Industry.

When Mr. Ford couldn’t make a payment on time, he was forced to offer the Dodge’s stock in his company. The profits from that stock would help raise the capital the brothers needed to begin building their own vehicles. The Dodge brothers would terminate their Ford contract in 1913, and the first Dodge vehicle was produced in 1914. Just three years later, the company became the fourth largest American automobile manufacturer, and a major competitor to Ford and the other established brands. Despite their success, John and Horace Dodge never lost their loyalty to each other, and remained devoted to ensuring their mutual success.

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Class of 1997

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