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Max Hoffman, (Maximilian E. Hoffman), (1904–1981) was an Austrian-born, New York-based importer of luxury European automobiles into the United States during the 1950s. Known equally for his acumen and influence, he was instrumental in development and refinement of numerous models, earning him induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2003.
Hoffman's dealers made requests through him, both for existing models and new types they thought their customers would purchase in the booming post-war American market. The most famous result of Hoffman's suggestions is the Mercedes-Benz 300SL "GullWing". More than 80% of the 300SL's total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making it the first Mercedes-Benz widely successful outside its home market and thoroughly validating Hoffman's seat-of-the-pants prediction. Its success is credited with changing the company's image in America from a manufacturer of solid but staid luxury automobiles to one capable of rendering high-performance sports cars.
From 1950 until 1953, Hoffmann was the importer and distributor for Volkswagen for the eastern United States. He was also the importer and sole distributor for BMW from the mid-sixties until selling his business to BMW of North America in 1975. Alfa Romeo was also imported to the United States by Max Hoffman starting from the mid-1950s. The Giulietta Spider was born by request of Max Hoffman. In 1961 Alfa Romeo started importing cars to the United States.
The Porsche 356 1955 "Speedster" was the result of a Hoffman suggestion a less expensive, racier version of the standard 356 would sell well in America. With its low, raked windshield—which easily could be removed for weekend racing, bucket seats, and a minimal, folding top, it was an instant hit.
Hoffman's house was designed and furnished by Frank Lloyd Wright a few years after he had Wright design and build his Jaguar Hoffman Auto Showroom at 430 Park Avenue in Manhattan. He and his wife left a legacy of several charitable organizations, including the M. O. & M. E. Hoffman Foundation.
- "Alfa Romeo, The First 100 Years, Part Two: Mass Production". www.automotivetraveler.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "Giulietta Spider". autoviva.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "Alfa Romeo advertising: the 1960s.". alfabb.com. Retrieved 2011-01-09.