A company that makes SUVs and has been celebrating its 60th anniversary of selling vehicles in the United States isn't an obvious candidate for being voted cool. But if that company is Porsche, then all bets are off. In its 2010 Brand Image Awards-fest, based on data collected from more than 12,000 buyers, Kelley Blue Book gave Porsche three gongs: Coolest Brand, Best Performance Brand, and Best Exterior Design-Luxury Brand, making Porsche the marque with the event's best trophy tally.
It all started in 1950, when Austrian emigré Max Hoffman opened the first Porsche dealership in the USA, setting up shop at 430 Park Avenue in New York City. Back then, the American market must have seemed to the Europeans what the Chinese market seems like today. Yet Ferry Porsche had modest ambitions at first; he was hoping to sell five cars a year. By 1954, Hoffman was shifting 11 Porsches a week, 30 percent of the factory's output. One customer was Johnny von Neumann, another Austrian ex-pat, who drove his new car to Los Angeles and started selling Porsches from there.
Hoffman was also instrumental in the creation of Porsche's badge. He was dining with Ferry and suggested a company emblem. His companion grabbed a napkin and sketched the crest for Baden-Würtenberg (Stuttgart's state). He added a black prancing horse from Stuttgart's coat of arms, wrote PORSCHE across the top, handed it to Hoffman, and asked: "How about something like that?"
Something like that worked just fine.