In 1900, John and Horace Dodge established their first machine shop. Their talents soon caught the attention of several pioneers including Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford, whose companies purchased transmissions, engines, and axles from the Dodge brothers. By 1913, the brothers made the decision to begin building their own automobile.
On November 14th of 1914, the first Dodge Brothers car was delivered. The company soon built a reputation for their fine engineering at a modest price. Initially, they offered one model, a five passenger touring car that had a cost of $785. By 1920, Dodge was second in industry sales, behind Ford. That was also the year both brothers died, leaving the company to their windows. By 1925, the company had dropped to fifth place in sales. The company was then sold to the New York banking house Dillon, Reed & Company for $146 million. DR & C would then sell to Walter P. Chrysler in 1928, who established the marque as its Dodge Division.
Among the list of innovations by the Dodge Brothers, they were were the first to use an all-steel, all-welded body in large-scale production.
The 1917 Dodge models had a 114-inch wheelbase platform, an increase in size over the prior year's 110-inch wheelbase. The list of body styles increase from two to six. Joining the Roadster and Tourer were the coupe, sedan, Red Roadster and Rex Tourer. The 'Rex' name referred to a type of removable hardtop that featured detachable side panels and snap-on glass windows. They were built by the Rex Manufacturing Company of Connersville, Ind.
The engine remained the same; an inline four-cylinder unit with a 212.3 cubic-inch displacement and 35 horsepower. The three-speed selective sliding gearbox received a multiple disc clutch in place of the leather-faced cone type unit.
Visual differences over the prior 1916 models included the headlights being mounted ahead of the radiator, a rear cross bar, and a higher radiator.