Roscoe Hoffman was an inventor, an experimenter, and a man-about-the-auto-industry in Detroit, and this car incorporates many of his unique ideas. He had friends in very top leadership levels of all the major car companies and did a lot of their contract work. His specialty was chassis and suspension engineering.
There is no written history on how the Hoffman X-8 came to be but there are a couple theories connecting to either Henry Ford of the Fisher Brothers. A contract does exist from the early thirties from a Fisher owned business contracting Hoffman to build two rear engine prototypes. It was reported to have cost in excess of $170,000 to build.
However the car came about, it is an absolute marvel of futuristic automotive engineering ca 1932-5. Built with an all-steel unitized body construction by Budd, independent suspension, this car is powered by an X8 engine that had eight cylinders arranged in an X configuration. The X-8 engine is the true marvel of the car. Water cooled with overhead valves and twin cams, it is almost assuredly the only car ever built around an X configuration engine. The engine cylinder powerplant is approximately 170 cubic-inches. The entire car is a true one-off.
The car did not reach production and this sole prototype remained in Hoffman's hands until 1961 when he donated it to the Brooks Stevens Museum in Wisconsin, where it remained until 2010. It is entirely original, except for the exterior paint: it was originally gunmetal gray. Mr. Stevens had it repainted in Packard blue to match all of his enclosed cars. The car was first shown at Pebble Beach in 2012, where its distinctive style, technology, and history made it a favorite.
The odometer reads just 8,300 miles from new.
Roscoe C. (Rod) Hoffman graduated from Purdue University in 1911 with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1934, he started a company called Hoffman Motor Developments based in Detroit, Michigan. He was an independent engineering who was well connected in the automobile industry. His resume may have included work for GM, Studebaker and Packard. At around the age of 47, he began work on a special project - a car now called the Hoffman X-8.
The project's genesis is believed to have been with French automaker Mathis, Hoffman, and Henry Ford. They worked together to develop an engine with 'X' configuration intended for the European market. A prototype was constructed in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Hoffman X-8 was given a 115 inch wheelbase and weighed around 3100 lbs. It had an all-steel unitized body and frame with honeycomb floor perimeter strengthening members. Up front is a tubular front axle, front transverse leaf springs, front trailing arms and tube shocks. In the back was a fully independent half shafts with Cardan joints at each end, plus longitudinal leaf springs and trailing arms.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2012