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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Volkswagen Arteon has been refreshed for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Americans aren't as in love with the Arteon as Europeans, but that won't stop Volkswagen from offering if for sale here, yet. The automaker, who has sold just over 2,600 Arteons this year, is pricing the 2021 edition to start at $36,995.

Only available as a sedan in the States, the Arteon will be sold in three trim levels: SE, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line. Each comes with an additional $1,195 destination and delivery charge.

The Arteon gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Its engine is paired with an eight speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available in the SEL R-Line and up grades.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon The Arteon has been reborn inside for the 2021 model year.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Among the changes to the refreshed Arteon for the 2021 model year are its wide and wide hood, available illuminated front light bar, and fresh paint color options: Kings Red Metallic, Oryx White Pearl, and Lapiz Blue Metallic.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon SE (MSRP: $36,995)

The Arteon SE comes standard with front-wheel drive, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights. It features keyless entry and has rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped touch multifunction steering wheel, chrome window switches, and stainless steel door sills and pedal caps.

Twelve-way power-adjustable heated front seats, leatherette seating throughout the cabin, automatic trio-zone climate control, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, navigation, wireless App-Connect, Bluetooth, two USB-C ports, a Wi-Fi hot spot, SiriusXM with 360L, and a rearview camera are also standard.

Each Arteon also comes with blind spot monitoring, forward collision assist, and rear traffic alert.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line (MSRP: $41,595)

The Arteon SEL R-Line is avialable in front- and all-wheel drive. It builds on the SE grade, offering 19-inch wheels, an illuminated front grille bar, adaptive front lighting, panoramic sunroof, power-folding side mirrors, remote start, wireless charging, driver's seat and side mirror memory, translucent decor with ambient lighting, and leather seats.

The R-Line design accents include a front bumper with C-signature and rear lid spoiler in gloss black, black headliner, paddle shifters, contrast stitching on steering wheel and shift knob, and R-Line badging.

This model gets more standard drive assistance features including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Lane Assist, Travel Assist, Emergency Assist, road sign display, rear park distance control, and Light Assist.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon SEL Premium R-Line (MSRP: $46,995)

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen has enhanced the Arteon for the 2021 model year with a thorough refresh.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The range-topping Arteon SEL Premium R-Line comes standard with all-wheel drive. It rides on 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and has a Harman/Kardon auto system, heated steering wheel with paddle shifters, massaging driver's seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, rear seat climate controls, an additional USB-C port, and power trunk. The model adds Park Assist and Area View.

The 2021 Volkswagen Arteon will be available in three trim levels and is expected to begin arriving at Volkswagen dealers in Q4 2020.

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Mitsubishi has restyled the Eclipse Cross for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

The restyled 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has debuted, with most of its changes coming to the exterior of the compact SUV. The first-generation Eclipse Cross debuted as a 2018 model and has received minor upgrades since then

"From the day we started to rethink the new Eclipse Cross, we wanted to address an attitude of boosted road performance and eco-friendliness, all with a stand-out style that will take this SUV to the next level," said Minoru Uehara, chief product specialist of MMC, who is responsible for leading and facilitating the creation of the new Eclipse Cross. "Besides the contemporary exterior and comfortable and smart interior, Mitsubishi Motors' legendary Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system ensures that drivers are always in control for their next adventure."

2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has gotten a new touch screen for 2022.Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

The automaker is calling the Eclipse Cross "design-forward". It's most changed at the front where the has gotten rid of its underbite for a more sophisticated face. There's also a new bumper guard and refreshed light layout.

At the rear, a redesigned hatch and rear window means that the much-derided spilt-style rear of the first years' of the model's life is gone. Its hexagon design is designed to be reminiscent of the company's iconic rear-mounted spare tire shape.

The cabin of the Eclipse Cross features silver accents and light gray leather seats. Door trims now coordinate with a car seat color.

At the center of the dashboard is a new 8.0-inch infotainment screen that has been moved closer to the car's front-row occupants for easier use. There are now volume and tuning knobs. Mitsubishi has removed the SUV's touch pad.

Mitsubishi has carried over the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission, for the new model year. There are currently no plans to add a plug-in hybrid variant of the Eclipse Cross in the U.S. market though it will be available in select markets across the globe.

All-wheel drive continues to be available.

Mitsubishi plans to launch the 2022 Eclipse Cross in Australia and New Zealand next month. It will come to the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021.

The company recently announced that it's planning to bring five new vehicles to market in the next 18 months.

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