Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nash and Dodge

My grandpa, Carl Ericke, kept some of his old auto registrations from 1922 and 1926. In 1922, my grandfather was 28 years old. I also found several photos of my grandfather and even his mother proudly posing with his cars. Perhaps he bought these cars new, right off the assembly line; the Dodge would have been bought soon after he returned from WWI and the Nash was registered almost a week before his 32nd birthday on May 16. Perhaps a birthday present to himself?

The first two photos are of my proud grandfather standing and sitting in his very first car, the Dodge Coupe. Founded by two machinist brothers as the Dodge Brothers Company in Detroit, Michigan in 1900 (to supply parts and assemblies for Detroit's growing auto industry), Dodge began making its own complete vehicles in 1914 as the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company. 

The Dodge reputation for quality was so widespread that 13,000 dealers asked to become Dodge agents before anyone saw the new car. The Dodge brothers decided to produce a high-quality car that would sell for about $800 and thus not compete directly with the cheaper Model T. In 1915, Dodge offered a two-passenger roadster which sold for $785 and the plant went into full production. Dodge's greatest contribution of this time span, however, was the industry's first all-steel coupe body introduced in June, 1922. The Dodge brothers both died in 1920, leaving the company to their widows and children, but the brand was eventually sold to Chrysler Corporation in 1928.

The next few photos are of my grandfather's 1926 Nash Coupe, a slightly bigger and well-appointed automobile than the Dodge. I believe this was the car he drove from Cleveland to Pitssburgh on weekends to visit his girlfriend and then fiancé, my grandmother, Sally Louise Ericke. How proud he must have been to show up at her doorstep with this shiny new car. My great-grandmother, Emma Winterberg Ericke, is also seen posing with the car in the last two photos.

Nash Motors was founded in 1916 by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash, who acquired the Thomas B. Jeffery Company, based in Wisconsin.  Nash's slogan from the late 1920s and 1930s was Give The Customer More Than He Has Paid For. Nash enjoyed decades of success by marketing mid-priced cars for middle class buyers. Similar to the Dodge, the Nash was such a success among consumers that for a few years all the cars that could be produced were sold before they left the factory floor. The price for a new Nash Coupe in 1926 cost around $1,500. Today you can buy a restored Nash Coupe for ten times that amount.


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