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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A new sports car will be revealed by Toyota on June 2.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Toyota has released a fresh teaser image for a new sports car it plans to unveil on June 2. The car is the 2022 Toyota GR 86, a sports coupe that had its global debut in April. The image features a red-bodied model with a sharp headlight, an image that looks pulled from other photos we've already seen of the GR 86.

Despite sharing the same platform and being designed as part of a joint effort between the two companies, the GR 86 and 2022 Subaru BRZ have been designed to appeal to different customers. For its part, Toyota says that the GR 86 is "specially designed for sports performance, and provides direct and satisfying driving performance of the highest order". Not that the Subaru isn't.

The two cars have almost the same dimensions as their predecessors and weight just 2,800 pounds. Its body features aluminum roof panels and fenders. The front seats and mufflers have be redesigned for weight loss. Body rigidity has increased in the new model, which aids in stability on the road, as does the car's MacPherson suspension up front and double-wishbone rear suspension.

2022 Toyota GR 86

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

The front-engine, rear-wheel drive car shares an engine with the BRZ as well. The new 2.4-liter four-cylinder power plant is an upgrade from the 2.0-liter of old. The engine is capable of 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque (figures that mirror the Subaru). Its power cuts acceleration off the line to 60 mph down to 6.3 seconds from 7.4 seconds.

Buyers in Japan get their pick of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. On June 2 we'll find out if U.S. buyers get the same options.

The interior of the BRZ and GR 86 are nearly identical. The biggest change is Toyota's infotainment screen and a 7-inch TFT driver information screen that features a unique GR 86 opening sequence. Photos from the two companies show that Toyota offers orange or red carpeting in their car while Subaru sticks to black.

All GR 86 and BRZ cars come standard with Subar's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. The system is a suite of safety features that includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking and throttle management.

Stay tuned for more information when the car is revealed.

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The new Chiron was co-designed with Hermés at the request of the client.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Just a few weeks ago, Rolls-Royce showed off a Phantom that was created using materials and craftsmanship from fashion house Hermés. Fast forward to this week and Buggati has delivered something similar, but this one has a super sports car edge.

The one-of-a-kind Bugatti Chiron habillé par Hermès was crafted at the French luxury marque's Molsheim Atelier, combining the history of two hallmark members of the French fashion and automotive industry. It was made for Manny Khoshbin, a real estate investor-turned-influencer.

"I am a true Bugatti aficionado – I wanted to name my son 'Ettore' but my wife disagreed," said Khoshbin. "When I saw the Chiron1 for the first time in 2015, I was one of the first customers in the world to reserve a build slot, yet one of the later to take delivery of one, but the reason for that was down to me."

Manny Khoshbin's Bugatti Chiron habillé par Hermès

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

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Khoshbin wanted to "defy the limits of custom automotive design" according to a media release, which prolonged the car's design and production phases.

The new Chiron features the intricate application of custom colors, fabrics, and finishes that required the expertise teams in Molsheim and Paris. The interior is finished in the leather shade of Craie (meaning chalk in English), which was made famous by Hermés handbags and other luxury goods. The off-white hue is matched to the exterior of the Chiron. The exterior color treatment extends to the rear bumper, mesh covers, trim bits, and the car's Bugatti Classique alloy wheels. Most Chiron models have two main colors that contrast.

The horseshoe grille on the Chiron has been customized to wear the Hermés signature "H" monogram while its Courbettes motif, graces the underside of the rear wing, which features a unique rearing horses design to emphasize the Chiron's 1,479 horsepower.

Khoshbin chose a Sky View glass roof for the vehicle that features two fixed glass panels above the driver and passenger seats.The exposed engine bay, Italian Red brake calipers, and aluminum-finish door sills are the only other exterior items not finished in Craie.

All materials used for the interior of the car have been crafted by Hermés from the seats to the console to the inner signature line, roof, door clasps, and rear panel. The Ecru leather around the centre console, dashboard and other parts of the interior, developed by Bugatti. The carpets are finished in the color Beige. The familiar Courbettes design finds another home in the car, this time on the console plate.

"The order of this special Chiron involved two visits to Hermès in Paris to discuss design, the realization of the interior and see progress being made," said Khoshbin. "Between myself, the team at Hermès and designers at Bugatti, we exchanged hundreds of emails. I took my time to draft the car and that was very much a conscious decision – this is a car that I will one day hand down to my son, it will live for generations".

"I'm truly thankful to the teams at Bugatti and Hermès for making this happen. I came to Bugatti with the idea, and it's not something that they'd usually do but they were open to the notion of making something special. Now I have three Bugatti models in my collection, and there is soon to be a fourth. There's this one, and two Veyrons, one a Grand Sport Vitesse "Les Légendes de Bugatti" Rembrandt Bugatti, that I love just to look at, they are so beautiful.

"Then we're about to take delivery of a Bugatti Baby II for my son," Mr. Khoshbin conitinues, "he is Bugatti mad, and gets excited every time he hears the name! I like the 'Chiron habillé par Hermès' the most out of them all – I drive it almost every day. It's a real driver's car and I still get excited every time I get into the driver's seat."

Khoshbin's affection for Hermés extends to other car brands as well. His YouTube channel shows off his customized, Hermés-themed Pagani Huayrai as well as others in his extraordinary collection. Watch his video of the custom Bugatti and all its accessories below. Skip to 6:35 if you're only interested in the car.

Everything You Need to Know About The Hermes Bugatti Chiron!!! www.youtube.com

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