Upholstery inspired by Marlon Brando’s made-in-Detroit motorcycle jacket.
As a colleague said to me the other day, the NAIAS media preview is for networking, interviews, and asking questions, not covering reveals. You never really know ahead of time who exactly you’re going to run into but you will run into friends, colleagues and industry insiders. 2014 is the Dodge brand’s 100th anniversary. In November it will be a century since Horace and John Dodge started selling cars under their own names after more than a decade of being Henry Ford’s primary supplier. While looking at a display of Dodge memorabilia adjacent to the brand’s centennial editions of the Challenger and Charger, I got to talking with a guy when I noticed he was wearing an Alexander Brothers lapel pin. I’m a big fan of the legendary Detroit custom car builders and have interviewed Mike Alexander. Someday I’ll publish my work on the Dodge Deora. Right now it’s somewhere between TL:DR and a book. Anyhow, the guy with the A Bros pin turned out to be Dan Zimmermann, who is the interior design manager for the Dodge brand at Chrysler, and it turns out that the 100th anniversary Dodge models coincidentally celebrate another Detroit contribution to gearhead culture.
The Dodge brand’s centennial celebration began this week with the announcement of special 100th Anniversary Editions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger. After more than a year of preparation, John and Horace Dodge went for a ride in public in a car with their own brand for the first time on November 14, 1914. That was after eleven years of supplying Henry Ford and his car company with every major component of Ford cars except for bodies, wheels and tires. The critical role that the Dodge brothers had in the success of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company is not widely known outside of serious Dodge and early Ford enthusiasts. It has been reliably estimated that from the founding of the Ford Motor Company in 1903 until 1914. when the Dodges ended their contracts with Ford, they supplied about 60% of the total value of the cars that Ford “built”. Without the Dodge brothers, Ford Motor Company would never have gotten off the ground.