Family bonds are tight within the automotive industry. You’ll often see father-son and other family connections working in offices and on the floor throughout the industry.
But, few families can say there have been four generations working for the same company.
The Mittelstaedt family is one.
“My grandfather, Oscar Evans Mittelstaedt, worked with Horace and John Dodge in advertising, and worked with George Harrison Phelps, the first director of advertising,” Oscar Mittelstaedt III told us recently.
Oscar joined Chrysler in December 1982 as powertrain test engineer, after graduating from Oakland University. Since then, he’s moved on to be a powertrain NVH engineer, then NVH development engineer to his current role as a media vehicle quality engineer.
O.E. Mittelstaedt, as he signed his name, coined the term “Dependable Dodge,” which was used in much of the advertising and other literature of the time. He also started Dodge News, a dealer- and customer-focused monthly magazine, which he oversaw through the 1940s, Oscar said.
Oscar’s grandfather kept working with the Dodge Brothers, though he joined Phelps when he left to start his own agency around 1930. After some years there, the elder Mittelstaedt was asked to come back to Dodge and he rejoined the company around 1933, again as assistant advertising director.
He passed away in 1953, while at work.
His son, Oscar E Mittelstaedt Jr., joined Chrysler in 1950, working in materials and later, for most of his career, in emissions, all in Highland Park. He retired in 1988.
The fourth-generation Mittelstaedt at the company, Bryan started in 2014 and works in product engineering in seating. He was part of the Pacifica launch team.
“There’s one picture in which they say I look identical to him,” Bryan told us. Recently, Bryan and his dad have looked into the family’s history with Dodge, and they’ve found some good stories.
“One of my favorite stories of my great-grandfather that we’ve found a lot of pictures of was at Horace Jr.’s wedding. It’s cool seeing what kind of event it was back then, and all the old Dodge cars in the pictures,” he said.
In addition to memories and memorabilia, the elder Mittelstaedt left a strong sense of family pride in the automotive industry. We have more from Oscar and Bryan in their own words below.