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Dodge Made a Car Just for Women

Dodge La FemmeThe Dodge La Femme stemmed from Chrysler’s marketing department’s observation that more and more women were taking an interest in automobiles during the 1950s, and that women’s opinions on which color car to buy was becoming part of the decision making process for couples buying an automobile. The La Femme was an attempt to gain a foothold in the women’s automobile market.

Dodge introduced the new La Femme option package in 1955: For $143, you could have the Custom Royal Lancer feminized, with rose paint, gold script, and a nauseating shade of Pepto-pink interior complete with rosebuds.

The accessories which came with the car as standard equipment were where things started getting weird. The car came with a calfskin purse in the same shade of pink as the car’s interior. There was a special compartment behind the passenger seat for this purse, where it could sit with the buckle facing outward. This buckle was large enough for owners to have their name engraved on them, and this is what they were encouraged to do. Inside the purse there was a makeup compact filled with pale pink powder, a lipstick holder, a gold-toned cigarette lighter and case, an imitation tortoiseshell comb, a cigarette lighter, a vanity mirror and silk change purse.

These accessories were all finished in gold-color metal and (you guessed it) pink. For those who wanted them, Dodge also offered an umbrella, boots, a cape (seriously?) and a hat, all matching the seat upholstery.

It went nowhere. La Femme became La Flop. Women stayed away in droves and men weren’t about to be seen driving around in the darling Rosebud. The Dodge La Femme was sold for two years in the U.S. — 1955 and 1956

(Line from a long-lost episode of “Leave it To Beaver”)

“Gee Wally…. all the guys are callin’ me a sissy…. a pink and white car and it says La Femme on the side …. I just can’t be driven to school in mom’s new car anymore …. Yeah, Beave …. I know what ya mean …. that’s why I ride with Eddie …. and besides, mom’s not all that thrilled with the car either!”

Info Source: Dodge La Femme Wikipedia

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Offutt’s General Store, with a 1919 Dodge Truck Purchased from Reed Brothers Dodge Parked in Front

Offutt's General Store 1919

Offutt’s General Store, with a 1919 Dodge delivery truck purchased from Reed Brothers Dodge parked in front. Photo courtesy of Mary Offutt Stubbs, Edward Offutt’s daughter

Offutt’s General Store and filling station in the building that is now Hank Dietle’s Tavern on Rockville Pike.  Edward Offutt, a landowner, first constructed the building as a general store in 1916 selling groceries, animal feed, penny candy, food and drinks, according to Montgomery County Historical Society records.

The building was constructed in 1916, and first housed a general store, with two gas pumps outside. It was owned and operated by Edward Offutt; he and his family lived in a house next door. The actual bar in the tavern predates the building. In the 1940s, a fire destroyed the original bar. So, the owner at the time — prior to Hank Dietle — traveled to Baltimore to buy a “new” bar. He found one about 100 years old and it was sawed down to fit where it sits today. Tony Huniak, who began going to the tavern in the 1970s, purchased Dietle’s in the 1990s to save the neighborhood bar from closing.

The photo of the original Offutt’s General Store shows a 1919 Dodge Screenside delivery truck purchased from Reed Brothers Dodge parked in front. Notice the screens on the side with roll up canvas covers. Commercial users of these units preferred Dodges because they had an all steel body. Four large visible pumps dispensing That Good Gulf Gasoline can be seen in front. Its Class D beer and wine license, numbered 001, was the first issued in Montgomery County Maryland after the end of Prohibition.

Dodge Brothers did not have a truck line, though Dodge would later be known for their trucks. Horace and John Dodge reluctantly agreed to develop a commercial vehicle in 1917 after their sales associates lobbied for a work truck that could be sold to small businesses that made deliveries of fruit, beer, and other goods. The result was a vehicle based on the first Dodge passenger car. The vehicle eventually became the screen-side Dodge business truck, with a thousand-pound payload, selling for $885.

Lewis Reed Photo: 1911 Speedwell Touring

1911 Speedwell Series 11 50HP

Two ladies posing in a 1911 Speedwell Touring car. Photo by Lewis Reed

One of the things I enjoy doing is looking through all of the old photographs in my grandfather’s albums and trying to figure out who and what they are. Unfortunately, the majority of the photos are more than 100 years old and do not come neatly labeled on the back with names, dates, people or places. Anyway, I came across this cool looking car and thought it would be fun to try and identify it, so I went on a quest. The only real clue I had to go on was the “S” on the front of the car.

After some digging, my research has identified the car as a circa 1910 or 1911 Speedwell Touring car — pictured just below is a fully restored 1911 Speedwell Series 11 50HP. Looks the same to me. What do you think?

1911 Speedwell Series 11 50HP

Fully restored 1911 Speedwell Series 11 50HP. In 2011, this car was offered for sale at auction. It was estimated to sell for $195,000-$225,000 but bidding fell short of the estimate and left the auction unsold.

The Speedwell Motor Car Company was an early United States automobile manufacturing company that produced cars from 1907 to 1914. In 1910, the Speedwell cars and the Wright aircraft were produced in the same factory building. Powering the cars was a Speedwell four-cylinder motor that offered 50 horsepower, making it more than capable of sustaining high speeds. The exterior designs of the Speedwell automobiles were inspired from multiple parts of the automotive industry. Speedwell declared bankruptcy in 1915.

Source: Wikipedia – Speedwell Motor Car Company

Lewis Reed Photo: Old Car Wreck

1920s Car Wreck

Photo by Lewis Reed

This photo taken by Lewis Reed in the early 1920s was not picked for its shock value, but for the history it contains of an era long since gone. During the 1920s a drivers license wasn’t needed in most states. It was the wild west when it came to driving. Poorly maintained roads, uneducated drivers, and speeds approaching 40 mph was the perfect combination for some really bad accidents. The photograph sure hits home with just how fragile those early cars were.

1920s: Dodge Dealers Tackle Snowy Goshen Road in Gaithersburg

MD Dealer Plates 1920 HUDSON SUPER 6 TOURING

Circa 1920 Hudson Six with Maryland Dealer License Plate on front. There weren’t heaters in these old cars, so motorists had to really bundle up. Photo by Lewis Reed

These previously unpublished photos from Lewis Reed’s album are what appears to be a caravan of circa 1920s cars all with Dealer license plates slowly making their way along a snowbound Goshen Road in rural Gaithersburg. The radiator badge on the front of the car in the above image identifies it as a Hudson. The only indication of where these photos were taken was a small piece of paper tucked behind one of the photos that was labeled “Goshen Road – outside Gaithersburg”.

Early motorists weren’t afraid to drive in the snow simply because they didn’t have 4-wheel drive and electronic assistance; they just got out and did it. In the spirit of the upcoming weekend snow storm, here are a few photos that recall the beauties and trials of winters past, from Lewis Reed’s collection.

1920 MD Dealers

Dealer car stopped (stuck?) on snowbound Goshen Road. Note the trailing cars slowly making their way up the hill. Although no tire chains are in evidence, they might have been useful coming up that hill. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920 MD Dealers

Line of Dealer cars stopped on Goshen Road. The car at the rear appears to be getting a helping hand to change a flat tire. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920 MD Dealers

Dealer in a circa 1920 Oldsmobile stopped along Goshen Road outside Gaithersburg. Photo by Lewis Reed

Lewis Reed’s Rockville Garage sold more than just Dodges. During the early years, Reed Brothers represented several franchise nameplates along with Dodge, including Oldsmobile, Hudson and Essex. The Hudson and Oldsmobile were sold at Reed Brothers from roughly 1917 through 1921.

Who would dare go out in these conditions today without an AWD SUV and heated seats?

 

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