Max Hoffman managed to create a rather rare platform in automotive history: an independent car dealer who can claim to have led the development strategy of an automotive giant.
Being Austrian-born and Jewish, Hoffman had fled his homeland during World War II to seek domicile in New York, before going on to become a leading luxury car importer. Brands such as Alfa Romeo, BMW and Porsche did their Stateside dealings through Hoffman.
It’s a self-made success story, but perhaps Hoffman’s star achievement came in a Stuttgart boardroom in 1953, when he suggested Mercedes should cash in on European racing success and the strong post-war US economy.
The Mercedes W194 racer had swept the board at Le Mans, the Nürburgring, the Carrera Panamericana and had only just missed out on victory in the 1952 Mille Miglia. Hoffman boldly wagered that if Mercedes built a road-going version of the W194, then he could sell them to Americans craving high-performance machines during an economic boom.
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