With a highly focused lineup that consists of just three incredibly sumptuous touring cars, Maybach creates automobiles that are as exclusive as they are expensive. The vehicles are custom-built to each customer's taste. A long list of options, colors and interior furnishings can be applied to any vehicle, but you won't find a selection of popularly equipped Maybachs waiting on dealer lots. Instead, you must order your vehicle by visiting a Maybach dealer's "Commissioning Studio," housed within a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
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.