Maximilian Edwin Hoffman (12 November 1904, Vienna, Austria - 9 August 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.
In 1982 Marion O. Hoffman established in memory of her husband the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation Inc., which is based in West Hartford, CT. The non-profit organization donates to groups, mostly in Connecticut, that further education, medicine and the arts. In 2013 the foundation had assets of ca. $ 60 million.
- Max Hoffman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame
- "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.
- The Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, Inc. (per 2015-03-31)
- Automobile / US-Markt: Aufreißer für Europa, Der Spiegel, 9 September 1968, p. 124.
- Donald Osborne: Max Hoffman Made Imports Less Foreign to Americans, New York Times, 18 March 2007
- Visionär und Autohändler, stern, 26 September 2014.
- Christof Vieweg: Er brachte deutsche Techniker zum Tanzen, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 March 2007