How Porsche’s Popularity In the United States Made It a Sports Car Powerhouse
September 30, 2020
Another Austrian expat in the U.S., John von Neumann, was also pretty excited by the 356 after purchasing one from Hoffman. Neumann had his own dealership in North Hollywood, California, Competition Motors, which he had opened in 1948. Neumann raced cars, too, and helped popularize the 356 both in motorsports and through celebrity customers including James Dean. It’s probably no coincidence that Porsche maintains such a huge presence in racing to this day. If you want to sell performance cars, you should show off their performance.
The introduction of the lower-priced $2,995 Speedster in particular was a hit. That car was inspired by the 356 America Roadster that was made to fulfill Hoffman’s request for an entry-level lightweight car. That’s how important U.S. sales were to Porsche.
Hoffman eventually beat his five Porsches a week, selling 11 per week in 1954, accounting for 30 percent of Porsche’s total sales. By 1955, there was an independent U.S. distribution network, the Porsche of America Corporation, which is basically the precursor to the Porsche Cars North America entity we deal with today. In 1965—the final year of the 356—nearly three-fourths of all Porsche sales went to the United States.
Porsche still sold half of its cars in the United States in the 1990s, but a slump in sales and outdated processes meant that the company struggled financially, per Der Spiegel. After a thorough modernization and reorganization of the company that even involved bringing in consultants from Toyota, the introduction of the Porsche Boxster helped revive the brand’s popularity—and finances.
In 2003, the Cayenne widened Porsche’s appeal and became its most popular model in the U.S. for several years afterwards. It’s a Porsche that can tow a Porsche, because yo dawg, they heard we liked Porsches.