How Maybachs Work

Let's say that you've just won the lottery. Chances are that one of the first things you would buy is a new car. What kind of car would you get? It really depends on how much money you want to spend and what kind of image you want to portray as you drive around. For example, let's say that you would like to blow $50,000 on a car. There are a lot of options. Everything from a new Corvette to a Hummer 2, along with all sorts of foreign and domestic sedans and SUVs, fill the bill.

If you want to spend $100,000 on a car, the choices are a bit more limited. For example, you might choose a BMW 760, a Mercedes S600, or a Porsche Cayenne.

All the premium automotive brands that we see advertising on television top out around $100,000 -- Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Volvo, etc. If you want to spend significantly more than $100,000, you start stretching into the realm of the exotic sports cars -- the hand-built Ferraris and Lamborghinis -- or into the realm of the ultra luxury sedan. The luxury sedan niche is typified by the Rolls Royce.

Next Up

Now there is a new player vying for the luxury sedan crown -- the Maybach (pronounced my-bok).

Maybachs come in two models -- the 57 and the 62 -- and are priced between $300,000 and $400,000. Only a thousand or so are handmade every year. Is the Maybach a good way to spend your lottery winnings?

In this article, you will have the chance to get familiar with the Maybach so that you can recognize these cars and know what's under the hood the next time you see one driving by.

The Birth of the Brand

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
The 1930 Maybach Zeppelin

While almost everyone has heard about Rolls Royce, chances are that you have never heard of the Maybach brand.

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
The petroleum-driven "Reitwagen" motorcycle of 1885

There's a good reason for that.

Even though the name Maybach has been associated with the automotive industry since its birth, the brand has been dormant since the middle of the 20th century. It was resurrected only recently by DaimlerChrysler to carry the flag for its ultra-luxury line of automobiles.

Wilhelm Maybach met Gottlieb Daimler in the 1860s. In 1885, Daimler and Maybach started their own company to create internal combustion engines and automobiles. They produced a working 0.5-horsepower engine in 1885. In 1889, they demonstrated their first four-wheel automobile at the Paris Exhibition. It had four large wheels similar to the wheels on a bicycle and was steered with a rudder-like lever rather than a steering wheel. This car ignited the automotive industry in France.

Their work together led to the world's first 4-cylinder automotive engine in 1898, which became the power plant for the first Mercedes, introduced in 1900. The rest is history -- Mercedes obviously succeeded as a brand and today is synonymous with high-quality automobiles.

Wilhelm Maybach set off on his own to start a new company in 1907. His son, Karl Maybach, took the company over and began producing very high-end luxury cars with V-6 and V-12 engines under the Maybach brand. The last of this lineage was the V-6 powered Maybach type SW 42, produced in 1940 and 1941.

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
The original Mercedes-Benz

Maybach set the highest standards and produced less than 2,000 luxury cars in the 20 years between 1921 and 1941. Building on this tradition of quality, DaimlerChrysler resurrected the Maybach brand in 2003 for its new line of ultra-luxury vehicles.

What is a Maybach?

A Maybach is a high-end, ultra-luxury sedan. It can hold up to four passengers in regal splendor. Prices range from $300,000 to $400,000.

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

The Maybach comes in three models -- the Maybach 57, the Maybach 57 S (the S stands for "special"), and the Maybach 62. The 57 and 57 S are both 5.7 meters long, and the 62 is 6.2 meters long, hence the model names. The 57 and 62 models are very nearly identical except for the length. The extra length of the 62 is used to increase the rear seat leg room.

The Maybach 57 S (available December 2005) will offer several different interior and exterior features not available in the regular 57, including a twin-turbo 6-liter V-12 engine and sport suspension.

The Maybach 62 also offers several options unavailable in the 57. For example, the 62 has fully reclining rear seats because it has extra leg room available in the rear to accommodate them.

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
Rear of the Maybach 62

The 62 also offers a huge skylight in the roof (known officially as the electro-transparent panoramic glass roof).

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
The laminated glass pane on the inside of the panoramic roof contains a layer of liquid crystal foil made from electrically conductive polymer material which becomes transparent when AC voltage is applied.

The glass in this skylight can be electronically changed between clear, frosted or completely opaque depending on your mood (see How Smart Windows Work to find out about this technology).

Inside a Maybach
The interior of the Maybach is designed for opulence.

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

It has every creature comfort you can imagine, and several that you may have never thought of. The list of standard and optional features includes:

  • A built-in refrigerator, operated by its own compressor
  • The previously mentioned electro-transparent panoramic glass roof
  • Solar cells built into the roof to operate a ventilation system while the car is parked
  • Ten air bags: four normal airbags for all four passengers, four side-impact airbags and two curtain airbags
  • Charcoal and pollen filters to clean incoming air
  • Ambient lighting
  • Writing desks that unfold from the armrests

    Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
    Each of the two rear seats in the Maybach 62 has a folding table which is housed in a special compartment, one on either side of the rear center console.

  • DVD player in the back seat and two screens embedded in the backs of the front seats, along with a TV tuner and a 6-disc CD changer with cordless headphones

    Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

    Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

  • Curtains to cover rear and side windows
  • Two cell phones
  • Automatic door unlocking and ignition using a fob transmitter (When you approach the car, it unlocks; when you touch the gear-selector knob, it starts.)
  • Heated seats and steering wheel

    Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

  • Optional fully-reclining rear seats with built-in massage
  • Intercom between front and rear seats
  • Retractable window between front and rear seats, with electro-frosting when desired
  • Bose® sound system, 600 watts with 21 speakers
  • Navigation system, self-monitoring tires, telediagnostics, etc.
  • 100 wood veneer accent pieces and leather throughout

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

In other words, the car has everything.

Security Upgrade: Maybach Guard
The Maybach Guard is an upgraded version of the Maybach that offers enhanced B4-level security for the occupants of the vehicle. B4-level security means that someone attacking the car with a blunt instrument (like a bat or a crowbar) or a handgun up to .44 caliber at point-blank range will be unable to disable the vehicle or harm the passengers.

Maybach Guard vehicles are built from the ground up on the assembly line -- the features are not added on after the fact. This allows a Maybach Guard vehicle to look identical to a standard Maybach.

Features include:

  • Reinforced steel in areas like the roof, rear wall, firewall, doors and floor
  • Kevlar® blankets, similar to those used in body armor, to absorb bullets that pass through the steel
  • Bulletproof glass in all windows
  • Special overlapping protection zones around door and window seams to prevent bullet entry
  • Protected fuel tank
  • Run-flat tires

There is also a special alarm system, including alarm activation buttons at every seat, along with an intercom system to allow communication with people outside the vehicle without opening a window.


The obvious car to compare the Maybach to is the 2004 Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Maybach and the Rolls are priced about the same, weigh about the same, have similar features and level of quality, the same buyers, etc.

Photo courtesy
Chevrolet Corvette

It is far more interesting, however, to compare the Maybach 57 to a Chevrolet Corvette. These cars are radically different. The Corvette is an unabashed two-seater sports car with a high-performance engine, sports-car frame and suspension and a lightweight fiberglass body. The Maybach is a huge luxury auto-yacht. The Maybach 57 weighs almost 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) more than the Corvette (nearly twice as much). The Maybach 57 is almost 4 feet (1.2 meters) longer than the Corvette.

And yet, look at the important performance figures*. In 0 to 60-mph (0-97 kph) acceleration, the Maybach 57 and the Corvette are equal -- 4.9 seconds. In 0 to 80-mph (0-129 kph) acceleration, the Maybach is actually one-tenth of a second quicker -- 7.8 seconds for the Maybach versus 7.9 seconds for the Corvette. (Note that a Porsche Boxster takes just a bit over 6 seconds to reach 60 mph -- the Corvette is a very quick car.)

In terms of braking, the Maybach 57 is actually better than the Corvette. Braking from 60 mph (97 kph), the Maybach takes 121 feet (37 meters). The Corvette takes 134 feet (41 meters). From 80 mph, the Maybach takes 212 feet (65 meters) versus 214 feet (65 meters) for the Corvette.

In the slalom, you would expect the Corvette to obliterate the Maybach, given that the Corvette is 3,000 pounds lighter and 4 feet shorter. But the speed through the 700-foot slalom is incredibly close -- 62.4 mph (100.4 kph) for the Corvette and 60.4 mph (97.2 kph) for the Maybach.

How is this possible? How can a huge car like a Maybach match a sports car like the Corvette in terms of performance?

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
Maybach V-12 engine

It starts with the engine. While the Corvette's engine is slightly larger -- 5,665 cubic centimeters (cc) versus 5,513 cc for the Maybach -- the Maybach's is a high-tech V-12. The Maybach engine has features such as:

  • Three valves per cylinder and overhead cams (compared to two valves per cylinder in the Corvette)
  • Variable valve timing
  • Variable-length intake manifolds
  • Dual turbochargers with intercooler that can produce 18.9 psi of boost

This all adds up to an engine that produces 543 horsepower compared to 350 horsepower for the Corvette. The extra horsepower means that the power-to-weight ratios of the two cars are nearly identical.

On the braking side, the Maybach is very well endowed. The Maybach has huge disc brake rotors at 14.8 inches up front and 14 inches in the back. The Maybach actually has six brake calipers instead of the normal four -- two calipers on each front wheel. The entire braking system is redundant and computer controlled so that the CPU can decide which calipers to activate and how much pressure to apply to each. Computer control also allows special software features to be added. For example, if your foot comes off the accelerator rapidly, the braking system notices. The braking system assumes that, a few milliseconds later, you will be hitting the brakes for a panic stop. So, during those few milliseconds, the computer can move the brake pads into position against the rotors to allow quicker brake activation.

To handle the slalom, the Maybach has another computer-controlled system -- the car has air shocks that can auto-level the vehicle during acceleration, cornering and braking. The shocks also have adjustable internal dampers to control the stiffness of the suspension.

The performance equation for the Maybach is simple: The engineers have brought every possible piece of technology into this car to make it behave like a sports car.

*We're comparing the Maybach with the 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette, using spec sheets for the two cars from Road & Track magazine.

Buying a Maybach

Buying a $300,000 car is obviously a different proposition than buying a Ford Focus. Only a thousand Maybachs are made every year, and the potential audience is extremely small. It is doubtful that you will ever see a mass market television or magazine ad for a Maybach.

Instead, Maybach takes a much more personal approach. It starts with a direct mail campaign, as described in $1 million car on the table (September 21, 2002), by Neil McDonald:

    The potential buyers will receive, hand-delivered, a quality $50 coffee-table book detailing the car's history and brief details of the new model.

    It is the first phase of an intensive direct-marketing campaign, according to Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman Toni Andreevski.

    "We've gone for a personalised focus rather than mainstream advertising," he said.

    Later next month, the country's top 160 individuals, identified through the BRW Rich 200 list will get the same coffee-table book but it will be presented in a hand-crafted high-gloss timber box worth about $300 and personalised with the potential customer's name in brass on the lid.

Once a customer contacts the company for more information, he/she is assigned a personal liaison to help with the transaction. There are two options for actually ordering a vehicle:

  1. You can travel to the Maybach Studio in Sindelfingen, Germany.
  2. You can visit select Mercedes-Benz dealers that have a Maybach sales center on-site.

Mercedes-Benz describes the approach in this 2002 press release:

    With its stylish architecture and exclusive furnishings, featuring cutting-edge communications technology, the Maybach Studio reflects the fascinating world of the luxury brand - a world that can also be experienced by customers unable to visit the studio in person: Thanks to video conferencing technology, they can directly address staff in Sindelfingen from any Maybach Sales Center in the world should they have questions regarding the purchase and equipping of their high-end luxury sedan.

A typical sales center in the United States features the ability to try out different trim and color options for both the interior and exterior of the car using computer software and plasma displays in the showroom.


A Maybach seems expensive, but if you look at the price per pound for various vehicles, it seems less outrageous. Here's a quick comparison:

  • Space Shuttle: Costs $2.1 billion, weighs 170,000 pounds = $12,000 per pound

    Photo courtesy NASA

  • Gold: Approximate 2003 spot price of about $400 per ounce = $6,400 per pound
  • Lear jet 45: Costs approximately $10 million, weighs 15,000 pounds = $650 per pound
  • High-end carbon fiber bicycle: Costs $3,000, weighs 20 pounds = $150 per pound
  • Segway: costs $5,000, weighs 80 pounds = $62.50 per pound

    Photo courtesy Segway, LLC

  • Maybach: Costs $300,000, weighs 6,100 pounds = $49.10 per pound

    Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
    The new Maybach with its predecessor model, the DS 8 Zeppelin, dating from 1930

  • Harley Davidson VSRC motorcycle: costs $18,000, weighs 600 pounds = $30 per pound

    Photo courtesy Harley-Davidson Motor Company
    2003 VRSCA V-Rod?

  • USS Ronald Reagan (nuclear-powered aircraft carrier): costs $4.3 billion, weighs 90,000 tons = $24 per pound (plus, it comes with a 20-year supply of fuel already in the reactor)

    Photo courtesy Northrop Grumman Newport News
    USS Ronald Reagan under construction

  • Hummer 2: costs $52,000, weighs 6,400 pounds = $8.13 per pound
  • Ford Focus: costs $14,000, weighs 2,600 pounds = $3.57 per pound

What would it cost to lease a Maybach? The key to understanding the monthly payment for a lease is to realize this: A lease factors in the resale price of the car (the residual value) at the end of the lease. With a car like a Maybach, the residual value will hold up fairly well.

For comparison, let's take a "normal car" like a new Ford Focus. Its sticker price is $14,000. You drive it for four years and it loses 70% of its value, so the residual value at the end of the lease is $4,200. Assume that during the lease, you pay 8% on the money you borrowed during the time of the lease. That means that you are dividing the $9,200 in lost value across 48 months and then adding in the interest payment. The monthly payment for a lease on a Ford Focus is therefore is $267.25.

If you lease a Maybach that costs $300,000 new, let's say that its residual value is going to drop to $200,000 over 4 years. At 5% interest, the lease payment will be $3,134.38 per month assuming that you put no money down. If you assume that the residual value falls to $150,000, then the lease payment is $4,079.39. If you assume a residual value of $150,000 and an interest rate of 8%, then the monthly payment is $4,661.94 -- both the residual value and the interest rate make a big difference in lease payments. See for a leasing calculator that will allow you to play around with these numbers yourself.

How much house could you buy with $4,600 per month? Assuming a 7% mortgage interest rate, you could buy a house that costs about $700,000. That's because the term of the mortgage loan is stretched over 30 years.

If you would prefer to buy your Maybach outright and pay for it over 48 months, at 8% interest, your monthly payment will be $7,323.88.

For lots more information on the Maybach and other high-end automobiles, check out the links on the next page.

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