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The Dodge Brothers Motor Company was established in 1913 and by 1914, John and Horace designed and debuted the first car of their own – the four-cylinder Dodge Model 30/35 touring car. Marketed as a slightly more upscale competitor to the ubiquitous Ford Model T, it pioneered or made standard many features later taken for granted like all-steel body construction as the vast majority of cars worldwide still used wood-framing under steel panels);[nb 1] 12-volt electrical system (6-volt systems would remain the norm until the 1950s); 35 horsepower engines versus the Model T's 20 horsepower, and sliding-gear transmission (the best-selling Model T would retain an antiquated planetary design until its demise in 1927). Once the Dodge brothers produced their own car, John Dodge was once quoted as saying, "Someday, people who own a Ford are going to want an automobile". As a result of this, and the brothers' well-earned reputation for the highest quality truck, transmission and motor parts they made for other successful vehicles, Dodge Brothers cars were ranked at second place for U. S. sales as early as 1916.

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