Anyone in the U.S. who makes a living off of BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz or most other European brands owes a huge debt of gratitude to Max Hoffman. Hoffman was the Austrian race car driver turned entrepreneur who became a funnel for European cars into the United States after World War II. His sense for partnership and product (“His insistence on roll-up windows, a proper soft top and a functioning heater gave the Alfa [Giulietta Spider] an advantage over its British competition,” the New York Times wrote in a 2007 retrospective) allowed those companies to get their footing until they became big enough or savvy enough to stand on their own. But we may now be seeing a modern-day reincarnation in the form of HAAH Automotive Holdings and its chief cheerleader and CEO, Duke Hale. That became clear this month at the NADA Show, where for the second time in as many years Hale, 70, and his team of similarly seasoned executives signed up dealers to sell Chinese cars in the United States. Last year, it was Zotye USA, in a forlorn corner of a San Francisco convention center annex. This year — in the heart of the main exhibition area in Las Vegas — it was Vantas, a new brand ...