After 103 years since the formation of Maybach, Mercedes Benz has pulled the plug on what is a loss-making brand. The impact of the 2008 financial crisis and underperforming in sales meant that its future simply couldn’t be secured.
Although Maybach is known for being a maker of high-end luxury cars – aimed at competing against the likes of Rolls Royce and Bentley – it actually started off as a manufacturer of aeroplane engines. Wilhelm Maybach founded Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH in 1909 with his son Karl Maybach, then changing the name to Maybach Motorenbau GmbH in 1912.
The first car built by Maybach came in 1919, a concept car based on a Daimler chassis. Prior to starting up his own company, Wilhelm Maybach was a chief engineer at the then Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, meaning Maybach's link to Mercedes Benz was there from the very beginning. The first production car appeared in 1921 at the Berlin Motor Show.
By the 1930s, Maybach was an established brand of luxury vehicles, with models like the V12-engined Zeppelin gaining much interest. The 200hp 8.0-litre engine found in the DS8 was actually one of the most powerful road car engines of its day. But upon the arrival of World War II, Maybach resumed its role of being an engine supplier to the army, meaning the end of Maybach vehicle production. Maybach remained an engine manufacturer after the war, and in the 1960s it was renamed MTU Friedrichshafen – now under the control of Daimler-Benz.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the Maybach badge would appear on a vehicle. A concept car appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1997, with the production 57 and 62 models finally arriving in 2002. The Maybach 57 and 62 definitely had the power, price, equipment, and presence nailed for an ultimate luxury vehicle. They came with a turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 engine from Mercedes Benz, which produced 543hp. More powerful versions of the 57 and 62 were also made, called the 57S and 62S – they made use of a turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 producing 612hp.
The Maybach 57 and 62, like the Rolls Royce Phantom, are quite popular in pop culture. If you're a Rick Ross fan, chances are the catchphrase 'Maybach music!' is familiar, having named his record label after the cars. And who can forget the one in Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Otis video – you know, the one where they remove the roof and doors, and put the trunk lid in front and the hood at the back. Some of you might even remember the Maybach Exelero concept car, which rapper Bryan “Birdman” Williams bought for a reported $8 million – that car was originally developed as a high-speed tester for Fulda Tires, and developed 700hp.
Prices for a new Maybach were at €366,934 or $341,750 for a 57, while the 62 was priced at €431,055 or $392,750. The most expensive of the modern Maybachs was the convertible Landaulet, costing $1.35 million in the United States – nearly three times more than the 62S on which it was based.
Production has been stopped for all Maybachs, and there isn’t any talk of making replacements for the 57 and 62. There is still a chance for people to get their hands on new ones though, as Maybach still has a few unpurchased cars in stock. With production ending, values of Maybachs should start rising in the near future too, as collectors try to get their hands on whatever examples are left. Looking at the used car market shows that they can be had for a lot less than their original sticker price, although they are still quite expensive. A 57 with less than 100,000km can cost anywhere between €115,000 and €170,000 in the euro zone.
By Alex Kisiri