Did you know?? Mercedes Benz and Studebaker shared showrooms and service departments from 1957-1963.. In the days following World War II Europeon car companies such as Mercedes Benz,Porsche and VW would use importers to send cars to the USA. One of the most famous was Max Hoffman(1904-1981) Max Hoffman was an Austrian born importer and visionary. He was known for his “handshake” deals. Dealers would make request thru him and Max would be the go between the factory and the little known dealers. His influence was so strong that he was a major force with the factories to introduced cars for the USA market. Models like the famed Gullwing Benz and Porsche 356 Speedsters were all the doing of Max Hoffman. Hoffman was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame in 2003..Still Mercedes Benz was growing faster than one independent importer could handle.
Seeking to make a deal with en existing dealer network Benz was turned down by all the major USA companies(GM,Ford,Chrysler and AMC) One of the only remaining independent companies left was Studebaker. Studebaker had a strong dealer and service network. They also needed additonal cash to fund the upcoming Lark compact car. A deal was struck and Daimler-Benz paid Studebaker an undisclosed amount of money to be part of their sales and service network from 1957 to 1963. Many Studebaker dealers were unhappy being “stuck” with a “Kraut-wagon” as one dealer quoted in a New York Times article. Mercedes would go on to form a USA dealer network of their own. Studebaker would sell its last car in 1966. Many of the dealers who got “stuck” with free Benz dealers would remain to sell Mercedes till today..What of Max Hoffman? He would go on to import rare and exotic cars for many more years. He and his wife lived in a house designed for him by Frank Llyod Wright. He left a legacy of cars we see everyday on USA highways. His foundation M.O.&M.E. Hoffman provides students with scholarships to enter into automotive engineering. Mercedes-Benz and Studebaker odd bedfellows to be sure…Did You Know??