The luxurious Maybach saw its heyday during the 1920’s and 30’s. The limousine style car could be seen down the boulevards of Berlin and Montecarlo as an alternative to the posh Rolls Royce. The beginning of the 1940’s witnessed the end of the first Maybach era, but the interest in the legendary automobile stayed in the hearts and minds of car enthusiasts with a hint of nostalgia. Wilhelm Maybach had introduced a car that heralded the modern era, setting new standards in terms of size, technology and performance but not popular enough to justify the production of the line, even in the exclusive luxury car market.
Fast forward to the end of the 1990’s when German automakers ventured into the ultra luxury car segment with Volkswagen acquiring Bentley and BMW taking possession of Rolls Royce. Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Daimler decided to start production of its über luxurious Maybach line in 2002. The car hit the market with a splash. The concept models were flown to Hong Kong, Monaco and New York to test the market, and the production of limited edition cars ensued.
Maybach offered clients bespoke services that set them apart from other automakers, making each model different according to client’s specifications at prices that ranged from $350,000 to upwards of $1.4 million. But the glorified Mercedes was in reality an inferior car wrapped in a glitzy package, not enough to convince the affluent set and justify the astronomical prices. Not even the emerging luxury car mania in China could get the struggling car off the starting line. In 2007, only 157 Maybachs were sold around the world, reported CNN.
Recently, Daimler announced that the Maybach would be discontinued after 2012. In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said, “it would not make sense to develop a successor model”. Instead, the company plans to expand the top-of-the-line Mercedes S-Class to six variations from the current three for 2013. Rest in Peace Maybach. ■