How Henry Ford Cut the Dodge Brothers Out of FoMoCo

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John and Horace Dodge

Ford made a move that still impacts American businesses today to try to cripple the early Dodge brand.

While it comes as a surprise to many people, Dodge brand founders John and Horace Dodge were instrumental in the early success of Ford Motor Company. After the Dodge brothers got their start in the automotive world making transmissions for Oldsmobile, they would become the chief supplier of parts for the Ford Model A, but the brothers were also key financial investors in Ford Motor Company.

According to a piece on HowStuffWorks, after being such key players in the success of Ford, John and Horace decided to launch their own automobile brand in 1914 and their first car was the Dodge 30-35. This car was designed to compete with the Ford Model T, so as you might imagine, Henry Ford wasn’t exactly thrilled with the new competition and the Ford-Dodge feud began.

Ford Cuts Funding

While Ford may have built the first American car that the average person could afford, the Dodge brothers both financed the early production process while playing a major role in the nuts and bolts of the program.

Ford raised $28,000 in the early 1900s to begin production of the Model A and the Dodge brothers contributed a “large portion” of that sum. As a result, John and Horace were major shareholders of Ford Motor Company and when Henry Ford began making big money, his shareholders were making big money in the way of dividends on their investments.

Dodge 30-35

This meant that the Dodge brothers were making good money from Ford, and that money was part of what the brothers used to start their own company. Seeing that, Ford stopped paying dividends to his investors in an effort to make holding stock in the Motor Company less desirable. Although these shareholders were vital to Ford getting his start, he saw these people as “parasites,” so in ending the dividend program, Ford had hoped that they would sell back their interests in the company.

Heading to Court

Instead of being crippled, the Dodges sued Ford and won, with the United States Supreme Court ruling still playing a role in the business world today. The legal situation became known as “shareholder primacy” and it states that “a business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders.” Of course, the court also ordered Ford to continue paying dividends, including those owned to the Dodge brothers.

Dodge 30-35

Ford Swings Back

Ford had the last laugh in the matter of the Dodge brothers benefiting from the success of the Motor Company. Shortly after the court ruled in favor of the investors, Henry sold the company to his son while starting a rumor that he was going to launch a new company of his own. The change of hands and the news of a possible new company from Henry caused Ford’s stock value to plummet, leading the Dodge brothers and many other investors to sell their shares back to the Ford family.

Dodge Charger with Actors

However, by that time, John and Horace had made enough money from Henry Ford to secure the future of their own brand, leading to the lineup of powerful muscle cars and trucks that continue to beat the best from FoMoCo.

Photos: HowStuffWorks

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"Before I was old enough to walk, my dad was taking me to various types of racing events, from local drag racing to the Daytona 500," says Patrick Rall, a lifetime automotive expert, diehard Dodge fan, and respected auto journalist for over 10 years. "He owned a repair shop and had a variety of performance cars when I was young, but by the time I was 16, he was ready to build me my first drag car – a 1983 Dodge Mirada that ran low 12s. I spent 10 years traveling around the country, racing with my dad by my side. While we live in different areas of the country, my dad still drag races at 80 years old in the car that he built when I was 16 while I race other vehicles, including my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and my 1972 Dodge Demon 340.

"Although I went to college for accounting, my time in my dad’s shop growing up allowed me the knowledge to spend time working as a mechanic before getting my accounting degree, at which point I worked in the office of a dealership group. While I was working in the accounting world, I continued racing and taking pictures of cars at the track. Over time, I began showing off those pictures online and that led to my writing.

"Ten years ago, I left the accounting world to become a full-time automotive writer and I am living proof that if you love what you do, you will never “work” a day in your life," adds Rall, who has clocked in time as an auto mechanic, longtime drag racer and now automotive journalist who contributes to nearly a dozen popular auto websites dedicated to fellow enthusiasts.

"I love covering the automotive industry and everything involved with the job. I was fortunate to turn my love of the automotive world into a hobby that led to an exciting career, with my past of working as a mechanic and as an accountant in the automotive world provides me with a unique perspective of the industry.

"My experience drag racing for more than 20 years coupled with a newfound interest in road racing over the past decade allows me to push performance cars to their limit, while my role as a horse stable manager gives me vast experience towing and hauling with all of the newest trucks on the market today.

"Being based on Detroit," says Rall, "I never miss the North American International Auto Show, the Woodward Dream Cruise and Roadkill Nights, along with spending plenty of time raising hell on Detroit's Woodward Avenue with the best muscle car crowd in the world.

Rall can be contacted at [email protected]

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