ROCHESTER HILLS (WWJ) – The iconic Dodge brand turns 100 on July 1st, and to celebrate, they brought a lot of classic vehicles to the home of one of their founders.

Dodge allowed journalists to drive classic Challengers, Chargers, Vipers and even a minivan or two.

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“The 100th anniversary of Dodge is important because it shows that we’re still a strong American brand, built in Detroit, still in Detroit, still putting out great products,” says Brant Rosenbush, manager of historical services at Chrysler Group.

The early birthday party was held at Meadowbrook Hall, also known as the Dodge Mansion. While the Dodge brothers only ran the company for a few years, Rosenbush says they infused a spirit into the brand that lives today.

“I think it’s the fierce independence, the loyalty each other, the brothers were so close, and the belief that if you put out a good product, people will want it.”

The anniversary comes as Dodge works to re-invent itself as a sporty brand, with fewer products than before, but products that appeal to customers who are interested in performance.

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“Dodge is all about giving you a car that’s not just a commodity,” said Dodge Brand CEO Tim Kuniskis, speaking as he drove a classic 1970 Challenger.

Meadowbrook Hall recently unveiled a special exhibit looking at 100 years of Dodge.

Rosenbush says there aren’t many auto brands that have lasted a full century.

“Around 1915 up to 1920 there’s around two thousand brands in the industry. Now there’s a handful.”

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