By on November 25, 2011

It seemed like such a wonderful idea: build a car that combined the styling of the Hyundai XG300, albeit without some of the more tasteful details of that model, and the interior of the thoroughly-reviled W220 S-Class, albeit with carved-wood buttons. Drop a twin-turbo V-12 and some retractable curtains in it. Paint it in two-tone schemes that wouldn’t have passed muster of a ’78 d’Elegance, and charge three hundred grand for it. Oh yeah, name it after a car nobody remembers, just to make absolutely certain there’s no brand equity. Thus was the Maybach born.

And this is how it dies: with a whimper, at the feet of the S-Klasse whose shadow it could never completely escape.

Quoth Bloomberg,

Daimler AG will shut down its super- luxury Maybach brand when a revamped version of the flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes to market in 2013.
“It would not make sense to develop a successor model,” Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in remarks confirmed by Daimler spokesman Marc Binder. “The coming S-Class is in such a way a superior vehicle that it can replace the Maybach.”
Daimler hasn’t made a profit on the Maybach since it decided to reintroduce the 1930s-era marque in 2002, Zetsche said.

Perhaps this will help explain why. This is a Maybach 57S:

This is a Mercedes S350 Bluetec:

One of those cars costs $91,300. The other one costs $372,500. See if you can get your wife/girlfriend/whatever to understand which one costs more and why that is the case. Oh yeah, let’s throw one more contender into the pot:

That was kind of a cheap shot, I admit.

The Maybach wasn’t entirely without merit. The engines were astonishing (although you could get them in the S-Class) and the interior quality was largely in keeping with the price. In the long run, however, selling a tarted-up pastiche S-Class for Rolls-Royce money didn’t make any sense. Goodnight, Maybach.

Full disclaimer, modern blog style: My future sister-in-law, Catherine Plant, was once paid to dress up in a very shimmery outfit and burst out of the Maybach 62’s sunroof at a Mercedes-Benz reveal party back in 2002 or thereabouts. At the time, she was working as a model and magician’s assistant, and somehow that led to this weird thing where they pulled the cover off the 62 very dramatically and had her burst out of the top while not bursting out of her own top. I attended the party, ate two light snacks, and was heard to remark, “They should have left the cover on it.” This remark was later on construed to mean that Ms. Plant should have been left to die in the car. We are currently not speaking.

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35 Comments on “Maybach, We Hardly Knew Ye (Or Cared, Really)...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    It didn’t help that the Maybach looked like a Hyundai XG (which was likely more reliable.) Give me a choice between a Hemi Chrysler 300, a well kept Hyundai XG (perhaps one from Florida or Georgia belonging to an old man’s estate), and a brand new Maybach – The Maybach would still come in 3rd.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      The other car that comes to mind is the 7 series based RR Ghost, same drive-train, same architecture, triple the money, for the Rolls mystique??

      • 0 avatar
        sitting@home

        But the Rolls bears no physical resemblance to the 7, it looks like a Rolls.

        Cars in this price range are never worth the money, they are exclusive status symbols to show how much wealth/importance you have. If a car is indistinguishable from another costing 1/3 as much then it is a fail. And if it has no more cachet than one costing 1/10 as much then it is an epic fail … The Maybach is an epic fail.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I know I’m not even remotely the market for this kind of car, but I never really understood why Daimler felt a need for a super S-Klasse. I guess maybe it was the same line of thinking as the VW Phaeton.
    Were there really that many NBA players and rap stars to make this whole idea work?

    The whole situation reminds me of my excuse that I used as a teenager: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      I guess the idea popped up when arch-rival BMW acquired RR. And VW snapped Bently.
      But it’s been half-hearted from the start so they never bothered to update it even.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      «a need for a super S-Klasse. I guess maybe it was the same line of thinking as the VW Phaeton»

      A $105,000 Phaeton W12 was never a contender for a $300,000+ Maybach.
      The Phaeton aimed to beat $125,000 A8 W12s, 760Li V12s, and S600s.

      The Phaeton factory just announced 2011 will be its busiest year ever, with over 10,000 Phaetons built.

      I don’t think you can compare Maybach to Phaeton at all.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The concept was hatched during the dot-com days, and is still (for now) valid: The 1 percenters (or even 0.1 percenters) are getting richer, while literally everyone else is getting fleeced by official dictat. Thus, the number of people that can afford a $100,000 car, but not $300,000 one, is stagnant; while those who can afford a $300,000 car can increasingly afford ten (or ten thousand, depending on their place in the bailout line) of them.

      The thing is, even bailout babies with Leno like garages need to feel that their 50th car is something special, not just a hopped up last gen S class styled by Hyundai. Therefore, fail Maybach.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    There is a weirdo on a message board I used to post on that insisted the history & heritage of the defunct Maybach brand warranted the price premium. I wonder how he’s taking this

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Good is rare. What’s rare isn’t necessarily good (for the price point at least). Many people don’t understand that.

    • 0 avatar
      svenmeier

      “There is a weirdo on a message board I used to post on that insisted the history & heritage of the defunct Maybach brand warranted the price premium.”

      That person is correct about how the prestige factor of a brand can warrant their expensive price tags. People are willing to pay for the brand name for a reason.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I bought a 57. Drove it for a week, and decided it was too small.

    So I gave it to the gardener, and bought a 62.

    True story.

  • avatar

    I wonder if this means Audi won’t be bringing back the Horch brand.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I guess they should have bought a dead brand that had living customers, like VW with Bentley. VW does just fine selling Phaetons people wouldn’t buy as VWs for $65K as Bentleys for three times the price. Pretty much says it all about how impressed people really are when they see someone driving a VW.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Agree. At the time of purchase, Bentley isn’t more alive than Maybach, but at least the brand name still registers with the living generation.

      MB could have chosen Chanel as the brand for the uber S class and would have sold more.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    What makes the price of the Maybach even more ridiculous is that the two-tone pig was built on the W140 platform…

  • avatar

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Over 5 years later and she’s still not talking to you? that impressive gruge keeping. Perhaps Maybach might have sold a few more if they included a model whose top came off.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    And super wealthy Chinese are upset now. They lose their bragging rights about paying too much for a car.

    ie.car reporter to Chinese owner.”why did you buy the Maybach instead of a Rolls Royce?” Chinese Owner “Because it cost more.”

    In Shanghai I’ve seen a few of these, they seem like very nice cars but in a city where ultra-luxury is nearly commonplace, it just wasn’t that great.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    The Maybach is the Mercedes version of the Lincoln Versailles while the Bentleys are VW’s Cadillac Sevilles. One is a tarted up, barely disguised commodity plate while the other is a decent platform engineering job that hides the underpinnings well. Customers are not THAT stupid, especially if you’re trying to use the brand as a mask.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    It should have been sold as a Mercedes S570/S620 Pullman.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Since I don’t care about Maybachs I wasn’t going to read the piece until I saw Baruth’s byline. I’m glad I did.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Is that a Bentley or a Chrysler in the last photo?

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …..you can never be too rich or too thin, but having a modern Maybach in your stable does suggest a certain lack of discretion, gearhead-wise. I wonder how many purchasers were swayed by the whims of their loyal chauffeurs, bored with their usual Phantoms, Arnage Blue Trains, or aging Double Six Daimlers. Assuming there is such a thing as a database for professional driver/manservants, they must be subject to some serious telemarketing from limo-makers.
    Everybody sees one once in a while, they just don’t notice them, bland and anonymous as they are. My first experience with one occurred a few years ago. Driving at dusk in medium traffic, and fully engaged in conversation with my passenger, I became vaguely aware of following some kind of obscure newly released Infiniti or the like. Slowly it dawned on me that this thing was way out of scale for any normal make, and only when we came to a stop did the stylized “M” make the connection with me. “Hey, that’s the new Maybach”, I exclaimed to my non-carguy friend…….he was wildly underwhelmed by it’s presence…….after a few more blocks of ogling this thing,…..so was I. (and promptly edited it out of my shopping list….Full Size Cars $300,000 and over)

  • avatar
    mjz

    Goodbye paean to wretched excess. You shall not be missed.

  • avatar

    Once the depreciation hits seriously apocalyptic levels, I might just have to get my hands on one. Maybe the one my now incarcerated former minister had… Nothing is better than a swollen S-Class if you want to steal money from people in the Lord’s name! But all in all they are a very nice way to ride around town, just not a very pretty, or classy, or worth 300k way to ride around town.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …….even though they will be much rarer, figure on Maybachs depreciating at about the same rate as garden variety RR Shadows. I follow “classic” auctions, and you can get a pretty nice mid 80’s Roller for 15 grand or so. They never drop much further than that unless there are obvious issues. The other odd thing is that very few ever make it to the metal recycling stage……there’s always someone willing to spend a pile of money and time keeping them going, hoping against hope that someday they’ll be worth big money…..which never happens. The simple fact is that, despite their almost universal “wow” appeal, very few people under 60 would ever consider buying one.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Don’t know about ’round town, but it’s THE car for doing LA-Vegas for a weekend of… a-hum, all things Baruth, or something… Even a Town Car is no match.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      There are a dozen on ebay. The lowest asking price for one is $139K. The highest actual bid for one is $35,100. That auction is ending in about half an hour, so it probably won’t be climbing anywhere near the $208,800 that the dealer wants. If anyone ever lets one go for what someone else is willing to pay, the buyer won’t be able to afford the upkeep anyway.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Another market in which Diamler has failed.
    economy (Smart).
    volume (Chrysler division).
    super-luxury (Maybach).
    I wonder what else they will try?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Nothing sounds more like luxury than someone clearing their throat.

    6 weeks late to the comment party: OMG that is tooooooo funny!!! When I hear my German co-worker speak native to her mom on the phone, I wonder how that country ever re-populates. And smooth talking France next door.

    All said, a black A8 with tinted windows to me is pure class.


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