Maximum Impact

The story of an automotive impresario.

Image: newsroom.porsche.com

Mercedes 300SL, BMW 507, Porsche 356 Speedster: if someone were instrumental in the creation of just one of these cars, their legacy would be assured in the annals of automotive history. Max Hoffman was an essential driving force behind all three, and more besides.

Maximilien Edwin Hoffmann (his actual name — the second ‘n’ in his surname would be dropped later) was born in Vienna in 1904. His father owned a bicycle factory, lighting the fuse of his son’s love to go fast with anything on wheels, and young Max became an enthusiastic amateur bicycle racer. Soon, however, he craved more speed and switched to motorcycles, then to what would become his greatest love, motor cars.

While still enjoying the occasional outing as an amateur competitor in motor racing, Max Hoffmann established a car import company in the 1930s, Hoffmann & Huppert. The company represented revered marques such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Alfa Romeo, Talbot, Delahaye and Volvo. It was there and then that Max Hoffmann discovered his true calling: he proved to be an excellent salesman, as well as persuasive influence on the car manufacturers his company represented. Continue reading “Maximum Impact”

Glorious Anachronism

Concept cars are often used to gauge public reaction to a new design direction before applying it to mainstream models. Not so the BMW Z07 concept, which became the Z8 Roadster.

2001 BMW Z8 Convertible (c) rwd-cars.de

By the mid 1990’s BMW had acquired an enviable reputation as a manufacturer of finely wrought and handsome drivers’ cars. The 1990 E36 3 Series and 1995 E39 5 Series were both rightly regarded as dynamically superior to their competitors from Audi or Mercedes-Benz, so possessed a more youthful appeal (to drivers of all ages). Plans were already well advanced for the 1997 E46 3-Series which, in design terms, would be a careful evolution of its predecessor.

For all this success, there was a concern within BMW that the company’s designs were perhaps too safe and evolutionary and might Continue reading “Glorious Anachronism”