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American Brand Spotlight: Evolution of Dodge Trucks

Ron Burg

Dodge trucks have sure come a long way, considering that they barely have been around for 100 years. Since then, they have become an American icon and popular brand for drivers worldwide. It hasn’t always been this way, though. Here is the history of the Dodge truck from the beginning to where we are now.

1903 – The Ford Years

Dodge was founded by two brothers, John and Horace Dodge. When automobiles were first invented, the Dodge brothers rushed to the Ford factory to get their start in the industry making parts. This proved to be a great learning experience for the two brothers, allowing them to learn more about the industry before breaking off on their own.

After learning the basics of how automobiles work and are created, the Dodge brothers began experimenting with their own models of cars, eventually creating their first model.

1914 – The First Dodge Model

The first Dodge model was not a truck, by any means, but it was nevertheless a great start to a later impeccable brand. The van-like appearance of their first model would surely later be one of the inspirations for creating the first American truck design

The first Dodge model clearly showed their inspirations from having worked with the Ford company, resembling the famous Model T and other Ford vehicles. It wasn’t until the Dodge brothers had their own style that their models really received recognition.

 1928 – Dodge & Chrysler

1928 was a big year for the Dodge brothers. To both make money and develop better vehicles, the Dodge brothers sold their company to Chrysler. In return, Chrysler began using the Dodge designs with Chrysler engines.

Just before this purchase, the Dodge brothers released a design for a half-ton pickup which would be used and modified for several years. When Chrysler came along, the Dodge brand really started to kick off.

1940 – Four Wheel Drive Pickups

In 1940, engineers for the Dodge company began designing a four-wheel drive design truck, which eventually resulted in the release of a four-wheel drive pickup in 1946. This was a great feat of engineering which undeniably had a lasting impact on the automobile industry.

Since then, it has been an option for consumers to purchase a Dodge truck which accelerates with all four wheels. This technology is still popular and widely used by drivers today.

1945 – B Series Dodge Trucks

After WWII, the Dodge brand really became popular with the introduction of the B series. Compared to its competitors from GM and Ford, the B series proved to be the most popular by the customers for its visibility and reliability.

You can still see many B Series Dodge trucks driving around the streets in America, and they are often sporting the “collector” license plate. Other owners have managed to keep a B Series Dodge shiny and clean and now often take them to car shows.

1954 – C Series Dodge Trucks

The huge success of the B series trucks inspired Dodge engineers to start from scratch and design a new model, making the C series a completely new vehicle. The C series had a bulkier look to the front, and lowered the cab closer to the ground, allowing easier access. Many small issues were fixed in this model. The pedals from the B series vibrated and were mounted to the frame. A curved windshield also allowed better visibility and aerodynamics. The C series proved to be an effective follow-up to the B series, and it was built to negate many of the flaws of the older series.

1961 – D Series Dodge Trucks

The D series holds the record for longest running Dodge series, and, technically, was active until 1993. The D series constructed in 1961 boasted a slightly wider wheelbase and increased capacity and durability. At this point, Dodge engineers had harnessed over 140 horsepower.

In 1972, the D series trucks underwent a little remodeling, and the company released a new model which had a different body. Other than a separate redesign of the interior in 1981, the initial D series trucks didn’t change much after the 1972 body change.

1981 – The New Dodge Ram Leads to an Engine Makeover

unnamedIn 1981, “Ram” had officially become part of the brand name, allowing the way for the Dodge Ram we all know and love today. In 1981 the first Dodge Rams sported a complete makeover from top to bottom, including an interior with more controls and powerful new V8 slant six engines.

The Dodge Ram was the first Dodge truck to have features such as FM radio and cruise control. Of course, the designers had begun to have plenty of fun with the new Dodge Ram name and placed ram hood ornaments on the vehicles to add a little personality.

1994 – The Second-Generation Dodge Ram

After over a decade of selling the new Dodge Ram trucks, in 1994 the truck undertook a makeover which sparked its popularity once again. These features included a V10 300 HP engine, reclining seats, more space, and better aerodynamics.

The 1994 Dodge Ram proved to be a very popular option among consumers and was a topselling model. The amount of power behind the second-generation Dodge Ram, along with many features which were industry firsts, allowed it to become one of the best models ever produced by the brand.

2002 – The Third-Generation Dodge Ram

The thirdgeneration Dodge Ram was a model that had some big shoes to fill. With a new frame, interior, suspension, composition, and design, the new generation proved to be a worthy followup to the popular second generation Dodge Ram. The third generation boosted the sales for the company and bolstered the strength of the Dodge Ram brand.

2009 – The Fourth-Generation Dodge Ram

The fourth-generation Dodge Ram was created in 2009 and is the current Dodge Ram truck model. New features on this model included four doors, remote keyless systems, better engines, and improved safety features.

They are very popular and widely used across America. Most replacement parts for this generation are still widely available on the internet and at dealers.

What Will Be Next for Dodge?

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In 2010, Dodge and Ram split, and the fourth-generation Dodge Ram now simply goes by the name Ram. Dodge has not been experiencing any problems because of this split, and all their models continue to sell well. The 2011-12 Caliber and Nitro use the Ram logo, but all other Dodge models have used the crosshairs and shield logo on the steering wheel since 2011.

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