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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Porsche-BMW: 1955

Porsche-BMW: 1955

New York circa 1955. The Max Hoffman car showroom, with its motorized turntable, at 430 Park Avenue and 56th Street. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and recently demolished. Photo by Ezra Stoller. View full size.

Hoffman

Was also, I believe, able to convince Mercedes-Benz that he could find a market for their 'Gullwing' 300SL coupe in 1955 for about $9,995 a copy! It was the Lamborghini of its day! Sold from '55 to '57, they only made about 1900 or so. It's still an exciting car to own and drive.

Moved To Jaguar

I remember visiting this showroom after I got hired by IBM across the street at 425 Park Avenue in 1967. At that time,the showroom was full of Jaguars although not sure if being sold by the same owner. Here I was, at 18 years old, making $105 a week and looking at brand new XKE's. At least it didn't cost anything to look.

The Rest of the Story

Great NYT article on Max Hoffman.

Another unique space lost.

This was a rare Wright interior that should have been saved.

[Seriously? It's private property, a commercial space that was there for almost 50 years and suited only for displaying cars. - Dave]

Dave - Granted saving interior spaces is rare and difficult, I merely suggest that this one was worthy of at least consideration by the owner. And who's to say it wouldn't be suited for something else? It could have been the most unique TD Bank in the city (lord knows there's enough of them). They could at least have given people a chance to see the space, document it, etc, before demolition.

Import Mania

Max Hoffman started the whole import craze. He was the first to import most of the European marques including Volkswagen and all of the British cars. He brought in the first Japanese cars (Toyota) as well. Eventually they all became independent from his company, but he laid the groundwork.

Outer Porsche

Erwin Komenda, a Porsche employee, is generally credited with designing the early 356 exteriors, while the mechanicals were essentially VW. The pictured coupe is a 356A 1500, and the ragtop a 356 Speedster. The Speedster came to be (late 1954) as a result of Hoffman persuading Porsche brass that a "low cost" convertible would sell well in the American market. Just a few blocks west of Hoffman's store, Luigi Chinetti was selling imported Ferraris on West 55th Street.

Rolling Investments

The four beauties sitting on that wonderful turntable are probably worth in the neighborhood of $400,000 today. Nice neighborhood.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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