…”It’s a far, far, better thing I do.”
The legendary Maybach brand dates back to the 1900s when founder Wilhelm Maybach and his son Karl set out to design and engineer opulent luxury automobiles. Between 1921 and 1941 Maybach produced 1,800 luxury vehicles. The Maybach began its second generation building ultra luxury saloons in 2002. Daimler AG presented a luxury concept at the 1997 Tokyo Motorshow.
It was to be marketed as the Maybach 57 with the standard wheelbase and the Maybach 62 with the extended wheelbase. This car was targeting the Rolls Royce and Bentley markets trying to create a niche for itself. Maybach marketing never advertised the car as owner-driven vehicles. All of the action was geared to the rear suites available. The Maybach brand was originally revamped to be a 100% bespoke vehicle.
Every Maybach was custom-built to each client’s specifications. And what better way to create the Maybach of your choice……than at the HQ and manufacturing facility. The Center of Excellence in Sindelfingen, Germany was home to a 7,200 square foot convention center that placed customer wishes first. Equipped with display galleries, lounges, and meeting areas, prospective Maybach clients gained insight to the car and its history. Five-star hospitality was extended in a manner befit the nature of bespoke elegance and decadent luxury. From cuisine, and on-site behind the scenes tours, to exclusive design consultations to create the Maybach of your dreams, the Center of Excellence presented over two million-plus combinations to make every Maybach purchase a unique experience. By special request, the client could visit and tour the Mercedes-Benz Museum or the Classic Center.
Maybach offered as standard wheelbase, the 57 and AMG tweaked 57S. It offered the 62 as an extended wheelbase and an AMG tweaked 62S. The Maybach 57 and Maybach 62 were powered by an alloy 5.5 litre V12 engine that produced 543 horses. The Maybach 57S and Maybach 62S got the AMG refined alloy 6.0 litre V12 that produced 620 horses. The Maybach was a front engined-rear drive configuration that went 0-60 in the low five second range.
The decadently luxurious Maybach Landaulet was a luxurious open-air passenger touring limousine. The roof could be opened fully at the rear while the chauffeur’s compartment remained closed. Opulent arm chairs upholstered in white leather lend an air to the majestic open-air environment. Opening and closing the power operated roof takes only 16 seconds.
The mechanics are based on those of the 62S. This is the world’s most powerful series-produced chauffeur driven saloon. A twin turbocharged 6.0 litre V12 engine produced 620 hp with peak torque at 738 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,000 rpm. The engine was refined by Mercedes AMG and excelled by virtue of its power delivery and imperceptible noise levels. This was a $1,380.000 (One-million, three-hundred eighty thousand US dollars) saloon.
For the 2009 model year, the Maybach Zeppelin, once revered world-wide as the ultimate in high-class engineering in the 1930s – was added to the model line up as a limited edition 100 vehicle model. The Zeppelin was the extra special Maybach. A Zeppelin could be configured as a Maybach 57S or Maybach 62S. It was also the most powerful Maybach. Its alloy 6.0 litre V12 Biturbo engine produced 640 horses.
Signature Zeppelin features were its glamorous paint finishes, a shoulderline in a contrasting color , 20 inch alloy wheels, and unique options to create a truly unique saloon whether it be fitted as the 57S or 62S, this was first-class luxury. From the curving “Zeppelin” lettering on its hood ornament to the understated cabin, and overall fit & finish, it was truly the epitome of Maybach luxury. Pricey too: $524,000 for the 57S Zeppelin and $610,000 for the 62S Zeppelin. It was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show March 3, 2009 to attract curiosity. The first saloons were delivered September 2009.
Daimler AG had predicted sales of 2,000 units per year world-wide with 50% coming from the US. In 2007, Mercedes brought back 29 US dealerships leaving a mere 42 dealers. In the 2010 model year Maybach sold only 157 vehicles world-wide. The Maybach’s poor driving dynamics early in its design combined with the fact that Mercedes failed to differentiate styling from the S-Class, were the first issues that created sagging sales.
While BMW kept its identity away from its Rolls Royce brand and the same with VW and their Bentley brand, Mercedes-Benz just kept the same design without any updates to technology, and, it looked like an S-Class. Rolls Royce and Bentley had a heritage that was built upon. The Maybach, and the way it was marketed….just “appeared.” Mercedes-Benz never hinted at classic Maybach styling cues in their design. For this reason alone, most automotive journalists regard the Maybach as “the bastard at the Mercedes-Benz family reunion.”
Another reason the Maybach flopped was due to the fact Mercedes-Benz used an aging S-Class platform stretching over-sized architecture upon it to make the Maybach. This was quickly acknowledged by the affluent buyers in this ultra-luxury segment. They didn’t get to this point in life by being stupid! They simply didn’t want a vehicle that aged 14 years when they drove it off the dealer’s lot. The Maybach brand always reminded me of an S-Class fighting its way out of a sausage casing. The Chief Design Engineer responsible for the Maybach should have been slapped beyond recognition only minutes before his termination from the company.
On August 14, 2012, Daimler AG announced the end of the Maybach brand with the last Maybach produced December 17, 2012. The decision was made due to poor sales. Since the relaunch of the second generation of Maybach in 2002, only 3,000 Maybachs have been made. It may become an investment one day after they are all gone, but as for today, it was a luxury loss-leader with the emphasis on loss…..