Ford vs Dodge Feud Helped Shape the Entire Auto Industry
The next time you line up your Ford Mustang against a Hellcat, remember this feud goes back more than 100 years.
Many would argue that the muscle car wars are every bit as heated today as they were back in the ’60s. The same could be said for trucks and brand fanboys in general. But one feud in particular, Ford versus Dodge, goes back much further than that. In fact, this rivalry began way back in 1914, as this fascinating article from How Stuff Works reminds us.
That was the year that the Dodge brothers rolled out their very first passenger car, the Model 30-35. But the duo actually began their careers in the auto industry as early as 1900, when they were building transmissions for Oldsmobile. Ironically enough, the two graduated to becoming the chief suppliers and outside machinists for the Ford Model A.
That relationship progressed even further as the Dodge bros. contributed a large portion of the $28,000 Henry Ford used to get started building the Model A. At the time, it seemed like a cozy relationship. But when the Dodge bros. built their own direct Model A rival, Ford did what any shrewd businessman would do. He took steps to squash it.
In fact, Ford immediately stopped paying dividends on the Dodge brothers’ investment and cut Model A prices by 67 percent. Obviously, Dodge’s reaction was to sue Ford, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. It was there that judges sided with Dodge, and the rest is history.
That case brought about two important legal distinctions that helped shape not only the auto industry, but every publicly held company in the U.S. One, it established the legal theory that those businesses should maximize shareholder profits. Two, it concluded that CEOs should generally act in the best interests of the company, in a reasonable manner.
Perhaps even more significantly, this legal battle was also the start of a heated rivalry. One that’s still going strong more than a century later today.
Photos: How Stuff Works