Rolling down your car window, have you ever envisaged yourself sneaking a peek out of a panoramic smart-glass roof? Have you imagined that driving could be so human-friendly, with a magic sky control that blocks over 99 per cent of harmful ultraviolet rays and reduces heat inside the vehicle? Have you pictured yourself in a Mercedes-Maybach?!!
Ranking high in terms of convenience and comfort, a Maybach is a true manifestation of riding in the lap of luxury in every sense of the word. All the up-to-date features and more will be tackled later in this article, but now let’s start from where it all began!
“To create the very best from the very best” that’s what Wilhelm Maybach had in mind when he laid the cornerstone for his high-end automobile brand in 1909. Maybach had since symbolised quality paired with luxury.
Within a decade, the brand had already gained acclaim for its engineering and beauty, reaching a peak between 1921 and 1940. That was their golden age.
Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929)
Everything started in Germany in the late 19th century when Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler developed internal combustion engines suitable for water, land, and air use. From here, the idea of the three-pointed star logo came to exist.
Indeed, Wilhelm was one of the founding fathers of modern cars, though luxury was not a top priority then. Back in the 19th century, the main focus was how functional, how reliable, and how efficient a car was. The question of luxury was yet to be addressed in later models.
W1 & W3
The prototype W1 passenger car was introduced in 1919 as a test car and was based on a chassis provided by Daimler Motors Corporation. In 1921, Maybach and his son, Karl, presented the Maybach W3 – a five-metre-long vehicle whose speed reached up to 68 miles per hour. Powered by 70 horsepower (52 kW), the Maybach W3 included some innovative features, such as a four-wheel brake system and a two-speed transmission with a foot-operated starting lever that replaced the gearshift. It remained in production until 1928.
The Maybach W5 was first launched in 1926 as the ultimate luxury vehicle. It was both elegant and fast. Placed for sale until 1930, the W5 offered more room in the back and included a wooden dashboard. The upholstery was made from genuine leather and offered a high level of comfort. Unlike its siblings, the W5 model featured side windows on all four doors, and its windshield had a pair of upper-mounted wipers for cleaning.
The Maybach W5 also offered more power, using a 27/120ps 7-litre engine with a 2-speed auxiliary box that gave the car four forward speeds.
Karl Maybach (1879-1960)
Following in the footsteps of his father, Karl sought to manufacture technically advanced vehicles with innovative designs for their period. Continuing where his father had left off, Karl designed his line of cars in 1929. Those were fitted with a V12 power plant under the hood.
Karl wanted to create an opulent car – one that was built around the tastes and wishes of the wealthy. He introduced his Maybach Typ 12 in 1929. It was a wow! The interior of the Typ 12 was fitted with luxurious wood veneers and leather seats, and its dashboard featured centre-mounted dials and gauges. It also included a wide and comfortable rear seat that could accommodate two occupants.
It was the first car with a V12 engine in the history of the automobile industry. The Maybach Typ 12 was driven by 150 horsepower, which was incredibly fast for that time. This car had a short production that only lasted for one year until 1930.
Besides the closed bodywork of the Typ 12, Karl focused on creating an open-top version, the Typ 12 Cabriolet, that is.
With deep-pocket customers in mind, Karl designed his Zeppelin Doppel-Sechs DS7 in 1930. It was a luxury salon on wheels! Karl took care of everything, using leather upholstery and wood trims.
Installed inside, the hard-top version of this vehicle was up to six seats. It had three side windows and wide doors. It offered drivers a commanding view of the road thanks to its big headlights.
The Cabriolet version of the DS7 featured four seats, with more room for the rear ones. With its superior 12-cylinder engines, the DS7 production continued through 1933.
In 1931, Maybach introduced the Zeppelin Doppel-Sechs DS as an upper-range for the DS7 and the ultimate answer to automotive wishes. This car combined the highest levels of elegance and power.
The interior design of the car was luxurious and included chromed metallic parts for the switches and gauges, leather upholstery, and wood veneers. And, believe it or not, the DS8 Zeppelin came with a central locking system.
Manufactured to the highest level of perfection, the DS8 Zeppelin had a compact gearbox with obliquely cut gear wheels that spared customers the complicated sequence of operations. Drivers had to use the clutch only to start and stop the car or for reversing. It also featured a pre-selector to choose the desired gear, and then the car would change gears once the driver let up on the accelerator. The production of this range of the extremely exclusive Zeppelin continued through 1937.
Boasting a swing axle, a new series was introduced in the 1930s as SW models. This was the final model to be released before World War II. The Maybach SW came in coupe, convertible, and limousine versions that shared the same chassis but different wheelbases.
Dubbed “little,” the Typ SW 35 was launched in 1935. It was neither small nor cheap, though. Its design was more practical than the Zeppelin, but it still offered the same very high standards.
In 1936, Maybach added the SW 38, whose interior was fully wrapped with leather. The front bucket seats were wide, thus helping the rear occupants with their ingress and egress from the vehicle. Production of the SW35 and SW38 continued until 1939.
The first Maybach SW42 rolled out from the factory in 1939. Like its SW siblings, this model was built with high-quality materials, but the difference is that it featured electrically operated windows. Production of the SW42 continued until 1945.
Maybach continued to produce exclusive vehicles even when World War II started. With such a big ambition in their heart, the carmaker was able to build around 1,800 Maybachs before WWII.
After World War II, the Maybach brand was sold to Daimler Benz and got shelved. It was in 1960 when Daimler Benz purchased the company, and Maybach was no longer active in the automobile industry for the next 37 years.
In 1997, the company took on a concept presented at the Tokyo Motor Show and started producing a pair of sedans bearing the Maybach name. This lasted for the next five years, which constituted a revival period.
Putting the troubled past behind, Daimler set off to re-present the Maybach, adding precision and chic to the design and technical characteristics to produce the world’s top luxury cars – a concept they inherited from the first founders. Maybach has hence become a part of the Mercedes family of luxury vehicles.
Conjuring up visions of the uber-expensive luxury sedans, the Mercedes-Maybach will always stand out as high-ranking in comfort and top-of-the-line technology features.
57 & 62
The 57 and 62 were the first Maybach models since the brand’s revival by Daimler Chrysler. Production of the two sedans started in 2002. Both models were variants of the same ultra-luxurious automobile. The model designations reflect the wheelbase in inches. The 57 was designed to be owner-driven, while the longer 62 was meant to have a chauffeur at the wheel. The Maybach 57 and 62 (both 4-door saloons) are pretty rare birds on the used car market nowadays.
57 & 62 Zeppelin
In 2009, Maybach unveiled their “Zeppelin” nameplate with an additional luxury package. The car interior consisted of a special California beige leather with piano black lacquer finishes. The exterior had exclusive 20-inch chrome wheels and dark-red taillights. The word ‘ZEPPELIN’ was also incorporated into the triangular ‘M’ hood ornament.
Maybach, however, could not survive the 2008 global economic crisis, and it was cut from the assembly line before it made a return in 2015.
In 2015, the Maybach nameplate returned as a trim level for the already luxurious Mercedes-Benz S-Class. With the Maybach badge applied on the C-pillars, the S-Class was yet another luxury line with even double the price of its siblings.
Three years later, a refreshed S-Class Maybach was presented at the Geneva Motor Show with an optional two-tone exterior paint. Mercedes offered nine different colour combinations. The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class came with three engine options: S 560, S 560 4matic, and S 650.
Mercedes Benz S-Class Maybach (X222)
In 2018, a facelift was introduced, offering an even higher level of luxury. This car was designed for the comfort of the rear passengers. With only two reclining seats in the back, this S-Class Maybach had also touchscreens installed on the back of the front seats. It also featured electric shades for the side windows and a 3D Burmeister unit with 26 speakers that ensured a concert-hall quality level.
For further comfort on long journeys, the rear seat occupants could enjoy an intense massage experience with specific music and aromatherapy surrounding them. It was truly an icon of luxury. Production of the Mercedes Benz S-Class Maybach (X222) continued through 2021.
With additional length in the rear, the 2021 Maybach was 19 centimetres longer than the long-wheelbase S-Class. The Maybach word was placed on top of the front grille, while the three-pointed star badge still stood on the hood. To further emphasise the luxurious model, the marque’s specific triple-M badge was placed on the C-pillars.
This car was opulent, inside and out, with the interior offering more legroom for further comfort. The rear passengers could also benefit from a mobile office, refrigerator, and massage seats. Also installed in the vehicle was an active road noise compensation system to reduce the inside noise.
The 2021 Maybach also had digital displays of the instrument cluster and the infotainment unit installed for the driver.
More than a century after Wilhelm and Karl Maybach started their automotive line, the brand produced its first plug-in hybrid vehicle – the Mercedes-Maybach S580e, which was fitted with all the luxurious items.
Stepping into an S850e, passengers would find a leather-wrapped cabin with comfortable individual seats at the back, separated by a console that extended to the dashboard.
Heated and cooled seats were also installed for the driver and side passenger, with a high-tech dashboard in the front. This model was also differentiated with a charging-port flap on the right-rear quarter panel.
Mercedes-Benz introduced its GLS600 Maybach in 2023 as an SUV that catered to the crème de la crème of customers. However, unlike the regular SUVs, this exclusive model was fitted with only four seats, deviating from the seven-seat configuration.
Boasting a new front fascia, the GLS 600 Maybach raised the luxury bar to a new level. A leather-wrapped cabin featured four comfortable seats. Two reclining seats in the back were separated by a tall centre console that extended to the dashboard. The rear seat occupants could also enjoy three touchscreens: two mounted on the back of the front seats and one between them.
Famous for its length and state-of-the-art luxury interiors, Maybach, with over two million configurations and options, has dominated the high-end market. Today, Mercedes-Maybach is a symbol of luxury that spans across the world and a true definition of uniqueness, luxury, and excellence.