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America On Wheels celebrates 100 years of Dodge

This 1919 Dodge Coupe was the oldest car at last years Awk Fescht car show
This 1919 Dodge Coupe was the oldest car at last years Awk Fescht car show
by Nick Hromiak

To commemorate Dodge’s 100 years of existence, America On Wheels Museum in Allentown is celebrating this milestone with a 100th Anniversary special that showcases the technological advances of the 30s and 40s, unique design in the 50s, outstanding horsepower in the 70s, which ultimately drove efficiency through the 80s and 90s.

The museum promises to share this outstanding history with a host of events September 14 starting at 12 noon.
The schedule of events is as follows:

* Noon – 3 p.m. – Enjoy Dodge vehicles in the museum’s parking lot where a collection of all makes and models will be staged. Visitors may also welcome bring their Dodge rides.

Noon – 3 p.m. – Mopar Madness of the Lehigh Valley Association will be on site to celebrate their 25th anniversary and support of the charity, Dream Come True.

Noon – 3 p.m. – The Mid Atlantic Region of the Dodge Brothers Club will be showing vehicles from 1914 to 1938.

Noon – 4 p.m. – There will be a Car Jamboree & Flea Market wherein and any make, model and year is welcome to join the Jamboree.

Noon – 3 p.m. – License Plate Rubbings and Color My Ride drawing activities are schedules for children 12 and under.

1:00 p.m. – Mark Altemose and Kelly Rambo of the law firm Cohen/Feeley/Altemose/Rambo, will advise how to “Protect Your Collector Car and Yourselves with actionable information to insure your collectable vehicles and your families.

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Jaciel Cordoba, Co-anchor of TV 69 News, will be the celebrity soda jerk in the museum’s 1950s retro HubCap Café. Patrons can also enjoy “Dollar Hot Doggies in the Café for the first 100 visitors.

From September 14 through September 30, there will be a special display of memorabilia and artifacts showcasing the history of Dodge in the museum’s Orientation Theatre.

In addition to the Dodge celebration, the museum has an Indian Motorcycle Exhibit; vehicles from the 50s to present that have been dubbed “Gone But Not Forgotten;” a unique art exhibit showing Guinness Advertisements through automobile designs; and over 70 cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles of yesteryear will be on display.

To offer a little bit of history on Dodge, the brand got its start back in 1896 by brothers Horace and John Dodge. Horace, a machinist and inventor, received a patent for dirt resistant bicycle bearings, upon which he shared the credit with his older brother John.

As chronicled by industry trade journal, Automotive News, the brothers started production in 1897 as Evans and Dodge Bicycle Company in Windsor, Ontario. In 1901, the brothers opened what was the largest machine shop in Detroit. As a result, and in 1902, they began supplying automotive parts to automakers including Oldsmobile. The business got so good that in 1903 the brothers gave up those contracts and began making parts exclusively for Ford Motor Company, while accepting a 10 percent stake in the company for assuming the risk.

Then in 1914, the brothers introduced their first Dodge vehicle dubbed “Old Betsy.” Months later, the Dodge boys gave up all Ford business to build their own vehicles.

In 1920 John Dodge dies of influenza and later brother Horace died from cirrhosis. At that time Dodge was the second-largest automaker behind Ford.

After their deaths, New York bankers bought Dodge Brothers from widows Matilda Rausch Dodge and Anna Thomson Dodge for $146 million in cash.

Then in 1928, Walter P. Chrysler’s Chrysler Corp., bought the Dodge Brothers from the bankers for $170 million.
Chrysler then opened a Dodge truck plant in 1938 and in 1945 introduced the Dodge Power Wagon, a civilian version of the heavy-duty 4X4 trucks built for WWII and which is in production today as a Ram Power Wagon.

Other significant happenings occurred in 1964 when Dodge introduced the 426 HEMI V8 engine that was intended for race teams but was subsequently offered as a street version in 1966. A Dodge with this engine was the hottest stock engine at all drag strips across the country in the late 60s.

Then in 1984, another milestone was made when Chrysler introduced the first minivan.

Today, the Dodge brand has a large stable of interesting vehicles including the latest announcement of their 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat that has been dubbed “The Quickest, Fastest and Most Powerful Sedan in the World. The Hellcat is powered by a 707-hp, 6.2L HEMI V8 engine that produces 650 lb/ft of torque and has been timed at 11 seconds in the quarter mile with a top speed of 204 mph.

AOW’s general admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, students 13-16 is $4, while children 12 and under are free, The outside displays are also free. AOW is located at 5 North Front Street in Allentown.

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