Retrospective

Porsche marks 70th anniversary of U.S. arrival by telling the story of how it all began

Porsche is celebrating its 70th anniversary of selling vehicles stateside.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

It's been 70 years since the first Porsche made its way to America. In the years that followed, Porsche has moved from an elitist sports car company to a more attainable luxury commodity. There's more than just sports cars now. There's acronym-ed models of many kinds - SUVs, PHEVs, and EVs.

The first Porsche got its road use certification in 1948. Germany, and the rest of the world, were still recovering from World War II, but enthusiasm in the evolution of the auto industry was running high.

Porsche 356 Max Hoffman

The Porsche 356 on display at Max Hoffman's showroom in New York City, which was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Austrian expat Max Hoffman had arrived in the U.S. on June 21, 1941, and in 1947, he opened a showroom on Park Avenue in New York City. Hoffman Motor Car Company began selling established European vehicles and the success of the company allowed Hoffman to take a chance with some lesser-known marques.

In 1950, a meeting between Professor Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of Porsche, and Hoffman led the German automaker to decide that it was time to try out the U.S. market. The two had known each other for years, dating back to when Hoffman was a lawyer in Vienna. However, it wasn't that relationship that was the keystone to the deal. That was thanks to a journalist named Max Troesch.

Troesch had driven a Porsche 356 and proclaimed: "I am sure this car will make a name for itself." When he traveled to America, he showed Hoffman photos of the car and encouraged him to connect with Porsche.

In early conversations, Ferry Porsche, son of the founder, told Hoffman he would be happy to sell five cars a year in America, to which Hoffman famously replied: "If I can't sell five a week, I'm not interested." Eventually, they agreed on a U.S. import contract of 15 cars per year. The first two 1.1-liter 356 coupes were delivered to Hoffman in the fall of 1950.

Porsche Taycan 356

Porsche celebrates 70 years in the U.S. with a photo of the Taycan (left) and 356 (right) outside its Atlanta headquarters.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

For Hoffman, selling the Porsche 356 was going to be a challenge. Going by numbers alone, the Porsche was more expensive and had a smaller engine than the other models in his showroom. But, it had other things going for it.

The Porsche cars offered durability, track-bred agility, and daily driver qualities. Those were a unique combination in the American automotive landscape. But, Porsche didn't have the money to market it. It was up to Hoffman to get the public interested.

His marketing materials described the 356 as "One of the World's Most Exciting Cars" with "A new conception in handling, roadholding, suspension and safety never known before." The strategy gained traction, and by 1954, 11 cars per week were sold through Hoffman, equaling 30 percent of the annual Porsche production.

Ferry Porsche (left) and Hoffman on a rooftop in New York ca. 1952.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Another native Austrian, John von Neumann, welcomed Porsche into his showroom as well. Competition Motors, located at the corner of LaMirada and Vine in North Hollywood, California, sold the new Speedster model. The Speedster had a low $2,995 starting price making it an entry-level model. Neumann, who was well-connected in Hollywood, leaned on his celebrity customers, including actor James Dean, to build up the brand's influence on the West Coast.

Dean was driving his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder he had named "Little Bastard" when he crashed it at the intersection of State Routes 41 and 46 after leaving Competition Motors on September 30, 1955 while en route to Salinas, California. The car was sold for parts and eventually wound up in the hands of famed car designer George Barris most known for designing the car used by the Munster family in "The Munsters".

James Dean gas station full-up 1955

James Dean was captured on-camera filling up his Spyder the day that he crashed it in 1955.

Photo courtesy of Don Ahearn

New reports indicate that portions of the vehicle, which disappeared in 1960 while being transported from Miami, Florida to Los Angeles, may have been found. Three permanently traceable components of a 550 Spyder Dean owned have been located in Massachusetts. These include the chassis, engine, and gearbox/transaxle. This transaxle is stamped with the correct factory serial number #10046.

By 1955, sales in the U.S. were so strong that the company decided to establish an independent distribution network. Sales continued to grow and by 1965, Porsche was selling 74.6 percent of the vehicles it produced in the U.S.

Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche were all under the same umbrella by 1969. On September 1, 1984, Porsche Cars North America was established in Reno, NV.

The 1990s were a time of setbacks for the company but with the successful introduction of the Boxster into the lineup, Porsche got back on track. In 1998, the company moved its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia and expanded its line up in 2003 to include the Cayenne.

2018 Porsche Cayenne

Porsche introduced the Cayenne to the U.S. market in 2003.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The auto industry as a whole suffered in the wake of the global recession in 2010. The company once again rebounded by introducing the Panamera and Macan in order to reach a more diverse audience.

Porsche's new headquarters facility in Atlanta opened in 2015. The Porsche Experience Center (PEC) features a driver development track, fine dining restaurant, Heritage Gallery and more. In November 2016, a second Porsche Experience Center opened in Los Angeles, making America the first market with two PECs. Combined, the two PECs represent an investment of $160M – the largest Porsche has ever undertaken outside of Germany to date - and have welcomed more than 450,000 visitors so far.

Growing the brand

Porsche Taycan 356 Atlanta

The Porsche Taycan electric sedan is a big part of the future of the company - and sales are soaring.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Porsche hasn't let off the throttle. In recent years they've launched a new digital space and established and fine-tuned the Porsche Drive subscription service. Sales continue to hit new highs and bounce back following the COVID-19 shutdown.


Atlanta, Georgia.

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Balmain's Creative Director Olivier Rousteing is a Porsche fan.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

What does it mean to "drive defined"? A new series of videos from Porsche and the Creative Director of the Paris fashion label Balmain, Olivier Rousteing, explorers the meaning of the phrase. Rousteing says that he's been "fascinated" by Porsche since childhood.

The designer, who grew up in France, worked at Roberto Cavalli before becoming the Creative Director at Balmain in 2011. The powerhouse fashion brand was founded in 1945 and was previously lead by Oscar de la Renta. Modern Balmain designs feature elements of French couture mixed with Asian influence. In 2019, the brand launched the KYLIE X BALMAIN, a makeup collaboration with social media influencer Kylie Jenner.

Olivier Rousteing sits in a Porsche Panamera during the filming of the short.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The short videos, published on Porsche's social media channels and on Rousteing's Instagram feed, focus on Rousteing's powerful inner driving force. In a release, the luxury car manufacturer says that there are "many similarities between the fashion designer and the sports car brand" including boundary pushing and an eye toward the tradition-rich history of the company Rousteing leads into the modern age.

"Olivier Rousteing is not just an authentic Porsche enthusiast, he is also a perfect fit for us with his desire to make Balmain a modern brand with the highest standards of quality and luxury," says Jelena Batic who is responsible for the cooperation at Porsche. "Together, we explore his exceptional driving force in the films by examining the connection between the worlds of sports cars and fashion, which creates relevance for our existing customers, as well as for younger and female target groups."

The series kicked off with a video featuring the Porsche Panamera. It was just the first step in a planned, longer collaboration between Rousteing and Porsche. Further aspects of the partnership are expected to be made public in due course.

Watch the first video below.

Drive Defined with Olivier Rousteing www.youtube.com

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The 2022 MINI Countryman Boardwalk Edition is a special edition offering.

Photo courtesy of MINI

MINI is all about the special editions these days. From the Mini Cooper Paddy Hopkirk Edition to the MINI Cooper 1499 GT Special Edition and MINI Countryman Oxford Edition, to the new 2022 Mini Countryman Boardwalk Edition.

The 2022 Countryman Boardwalk Edition builds on the Countryman Cooper S, the company's highest horsepower variant. It gets 189 horsepower and tops out at 140 mph. A Cooper S ALL4 variant is also available adding all-wheel drive to the model.

The new special edition model takes its name from the strips of wood that create a walking path to and from beaches, lakes, swamps, and oceans. It wears a Deep Laguna Metallic body color that is complemented by the black contrast finish on the roof and matching exterior mirror caps. It rides on black 18-inch Pin Spoke wheels and wears Piano Black Exterior Trim.

2022 MINI Countryman Boardwalk Edition

Photo courtesy of MINI

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Standard features on the model include LED fog lights and headlights, keyless entry, power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, satellite radio, navigation, heated front seats, and automatic climate control.

Inside the cabin, the Boardwalk Edition gets a Leather Cross Punch Black scheme, a Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System, and MINI's Touchscreen Navigation Package. The Boardwalk Edition also comes equipped with door sills, roof and dashboard graphics, as well as special Boardwalk side scuttles. It also includes the Storage Pack, which adds a folding cargo floor and two additional USB-C ports for second-row passengers.

MINI has upgraded many models for the 2022 model year but the Countryman is not one of them. It received its latest refresh last year.

The 2022 Mini Countryman Boardwalk Edition will be available in all 116 of MINI's U.S. dealerships in April. It was a starting MSRP of $38,365. All-wheel drive models start at $40,365. All vehicles are subject to a $850 handling charge.

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