From Dodge Brothers to Dodge Bros

The focus of this photo essay is showing (nearest makes no difference) 100 years of Dodge. It stars an original 1923 Dodge Brothers pickup truck and a 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Redeye. Between the two vehicles stands one World War, one Cold War, a great depression followed by multiple recessions, and 17 presidential administrations. 

What makes this four-cylinder one-ton antique pickup truck is that it’s also, technically, a Grahams Brothers truck. The Grahams Brothers, Joseph B., Robert C., and Ray A., got into the truck building business in the early 1900s. This family venture came about when Ray A. Granhams invented a rear axle on a spliced frame to convert Ford passenger cars into one-ton cargo trucks. The concept of using car chassis to build trucks eventually led the Grahams brothers to design their own truck bodies. By 1920, Graham Brothers trucks were built using drivetrains from Continental, Weideley, and Dodge. Every Ram truck on the road can trace its roots back to trucks like this 1923 Dodge powered, Graham Brothers pickup.

The year 1920 was also be the same year both John and Horace Dodge would die from the flu and pneumonia. Their sudden deaths put Frederick J. Haynes as president of the Dodge Brothers company. Haynes saw the potential of using Graham’s design to get into the growing heavy-duty truck market without needing to retool or slow down passenger vehicle production. 

In April 1921, Haynes and Grahams signed an agreement. Dodge Brothers would supply engines and drivetrains to build Graham Brothers trucks. In exchange, Dodge Brothers would sell these trucks through a Dodge dealer network. These trucks were Graham bodies on Dodge chassis. By 1925, Graham Brothers sold out to the Dodge Brothers Company. In addition, 1925 was the same year the Dodge widows sold the company to an investment bank for a cool $146 million. A few short years later, Walter Chrysler would purchase the Dodge Brothers Company for $170 million in 1928. 

Given that this truck is a 1923 model, the pickup truck is bodied by Graham and powered by an inline-four cylinder Dodge engine producing around 35-horsepower. At the other end is the SRT Hellcat Widebody Redeye. Its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 produces a claimed 797-horsepower. Overkill amounts of power will turn the rear wheels into a James Bond spy car smokescreen if you push down on the throttle. 

We’ve come a long way, and there is still so much to go. Like covered wagon settlers possessed by manifest destiny, the automobile continues to evolve. In another 98 years, how will this supercharged, gasoline burning, muscle-car sedan compare to a 2121 horseless carriage equivalent?

Special thanks to the owner of this 1923 Dodge Brothers truck, family friend Victor Quinones, for letting me use his truck for this article.

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