Last week, Scout was offered an incredible opportunity: Drive an assortment of Dodges produced over the last century in order to celebrate the iconic American automaker's 100th anniversary. The event took place at Meadow Brook Hall, a sprawling estate in Rochester, MI, built by Matilda Dodge Wilson, the widow of John Dodge. (It was he and his brother, Horace, who founded the company on July 1, 1914.) Tim Kuniskis—the Dodge Brand President and CEO who greeted the journalists gathered for the event—said of the twosome, "They were only alive for five years after founding Dodge, yet their attitude and personality carries through." If that's the case, then judging by the cars we drove, John and Horace were a couple of pretty badass dudes.
1915 Dodge Brothers Touring
OK, so they wouldn't let us drive this one…but we did get to sit shotgun for a ride in the very first Dodge ever produced. Considered a slightly more upscale competitor to the Ford Model T back in the day, the Touring's four-cylinder engine smoothly powered us through the roads of the property. And the ride is so high, you almost feel like you're in the O.G. SUV.
1927 Dodge Cabriolet
This was a hoot to drive; I felt like a real-life old-timey bootlegger. Even though it only has 35 horsepower (which probably really meant something in those days), I was able to zip around pretty quickly. The only tricky part was manipulating the unsynchronized three-speed manual, which required a double clutch maneuver (shifting into neutral and goosing the gas) between every up- and down- shift. But hey, at least my left leg got some exercise.
1941 Dodge Command Car
While behind the (gigantic) wheel this World War II military vehicle, I imagined that I was giving General Patton advice on outfoxing Rommel. Though a much later model than the 1927 Cabriolet, I just couldn't quite get the shifting right on this one. If the Dodge folks heard the way the gears grinded once or twice, I'm sure I would've been thrown in the brig.
1968 Dodge Charger 426 Hemi
This beauty is one of the two cars involved in the most famous car chase in cinematic history. Need we say more?
1969 Dodge Daytona
That nose! That wing! That 440 cubic inch (7.2 liter) engine! Built as a high-performance, limited-edition version of the Dodge Charger for the purpose of winning lots of NASCAR races, it is by far the most outrageous-looking automobile I've ever had the pleasure of burning rubber in.
1970 Dodge Challenger Convertible
Now this is the perfect ride for summer. The sun is above, there's a 426 Hemi in front, and there's gobs of bright purple paint all around just in case you were worried no one would notice you. The lack-of-roof not only helps you see (the coupe version is a rolling blind spot) and be seen (god, you're handsome), it also allows you to hear the monster engine in all its old-school-muscle-car glory. Hallelujah!
1984 Dodge Caravan
Yes, this happened. I was ferried to so many soccer practices in one of these as a kid, I just couldn't resist taking the classic minivan for a spin. Truth be told, it had more oomph than I would have imagined, and its size really is a timeless balance of not-too-big and not-too-small. And whatever happened to fake wood paneling anyway?
1985 Dodge Shelby Charger
Of everything I drove on this magical day, this bad boy from the John Hughes era surprised me the most. Sure, it looks like something the hugest jerk from your high school ruled the student parking lot in, but thanks to the genius of Carroll Shelby, it drives like a thoroughly modern sports car. (In other words, it made me want to grow back my mullet.)
2003 Dodge Viper
The third generation of the only all-American supercar (sorry, Corvette) had me wishing I was driving around a track rather than local roads. (You can blame the utterly insane 8.3 liter V10 churning out 500 horsepower for that.) Even though I never went over 55, I couldn't help but feel like I was doing something illegal.
2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker
Getting into this right after the 1915 Touring can really make a guy's head spin. One hundred years, it seems, might as well be a million. When Dodge reintroduced the Challenger nameplate at the 2006 Detroit Motor Show, it took the classic 1970 version as its inspiration. As nasty as anything on the road, the slightly visually tweaked, totally tricked-out 2015 Scat Pack Shaker is poised to bring Dodge roaring into the next century of its existence.
Still need more Dodge? Check out this video of some of their sweetest rides from the last 100 years.