BROOKS STEVENS' LAST CAR

John Gunnell |

While most cars from the Brooks Steven Automotive Museum were sold to private collectors in the years immediately following the designer’s 1995 death, Old Cars Weekly has learned that one car is still available. It is a streamlined sedan with an eight-cylinder radial engine made by Roscoe C. (Rod) Hoffman around 1934 or 1935.

Hoffman was about 47 when he designed this car. He graduated from Purdue University in 1911 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He started a company called Hoffman Motor Developments in 1934 in Detroit. Hoffman was an independent engineer and knew many people in the auto industry. He may have done projects for GM. Studebaker and Packard. He became a good friend of Brooks Stevens and gifted the car to him in 1961.

The car — now dubbed the Hoffman X-8 — is believed to have evolved from a deal that the French automaker Mathis was working on with Henry Ford. Apparently Hoffman, Ford and Mathis got together to develop a radical X-engined car that was envisioned for European production. The prototype was constructed in Boston, Mass.

The all-steel Hoffman features a unitized body and frame with honeycomb floor perimeter strengthening members. It has a tubular front axle, front transverse leaf spring, front trailing arms and tube shocks all around. The rear suspension features fully independent half shafts with Cardan joints at each end, along with londitudinal leaf springs and trailing arms. It has a 115-in. wheelbase and 181.35 overall length. It weighs in at about 3100 lbs. and puts out 75 hp.

Alice Preston, former curator of the Brooks Stevens Automotive Museum, is trying to sell the car for the Stevens family. Alice can be reached at (414) 760-3111.

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