Maybach was a German luxury car manufacturer. The company was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son, originally a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and was itself known as Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH until 1912. Today, the ultra-luxury car brand is owned by Daimler AG and based in Stuttgart. Tognum AG based in Friedrichshafen used to manufacture the commercial Maybach diesel engines under the MTU brand through its subsidiary MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH.
Daimler announced in November 2011 that Maybach will cease to be a brand by 2013 and manufactured the last Maybach vehicle in December 2012. This was due to poor sales, with only 3,000 cars sold since the brand’s revival in 2002. The decision follows almost a decade of trying to make Maybach a profitable rival to Rolls Royce and Bentley.
The company’s name comes from Wilhelm Maybach, one of Germany’s first automotive engineers. He designed the first car that bore a Mercedes badge in 1901 and later collaborated with Graf Zeppelin to design and produce engines for the airships known as Zeppelins. With his engineer son Karl by his side, the automaker crafted the very first Maybach in 1919. Based on a Mercedes-Benz chassis, the Type W1 was an experimental project designed to give Maybach the opportunity to test-drive a few of his favorite engineering concepts. A couple of years later, the engineer evolved this prototype into a vehicle intended for public use — the Maybach Type W3, which debuted at the Berlin Motor Show in 1921.
Other models followed. Unveiled in 1929, the Type Zeppelin DS 8 was one of the best-known Maybachs, and exhibited remarkable timelessness and durability. The car was powered by a 200-horsepower V12 and was capable of reaching a top speed of 93 mph. The company’s 1936 limousine, the Type SW 38, offered luxurious seating for seven via five standard seats and two folding seats. As a brand, Maybach’s epoch was short-lived, however. By 1941, production of Maybach automobiles ceased as the company shifted its focus to manufacturing engines for military, marine and rail purposes.
With considerable effort from Daimler-Benz, the Maybach brand was resurrected in 2003 with a lineup consisting of a pair of luxury sedan models, the 57 and the similar but longer 62. They were joined six years later by the ultra-posh Landaulet, the latter essentially a 62 with a soft top over the rear compartment that rolls back for quasi-convertible motoring. Today’s Maybachs are handmade to customer order in Germany. As in the past, supremely luxurious interiors and extremely powerful and smooth power plants (in this case twin-turbo V12 engines) are the hallmarks of the marque. A price tag starting well into six-figure territory means that these are cars solely for those with mountains of money to spend. But the lucky few able to afford this luxury will find themselves cocooned in vehicles that offer the ultimate in automotive extravagance.