Maybach, We Hardly Knew Ye (Or Cared, Really)

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

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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2 of 35 comments
  • Tced2 Tced2 on Nov 27, 2011

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

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Jan 14, 2012

    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.

  • ToolGuy Your Jeep is too studly.
  • ToolGuy I had a point to make, but can't remember if it related to Part XXVIIII or Part XXIX.
  • Daveo My dad had an 85 t-bird and I was totally into the digital dash. It was also the first car he had with cruise control and he would complain that it sped up and slowed down going up and down hills.
  • William The Peugeot 308. I got to drive the last gen model on vacation to the SE Netherlands and I wanted to take it home. The new gen looks awesome. I want one bad.
  • TCowner Among my 25 year thus far Lincoln daily driver list of nearly all Town Cars, I took a dip into the PLC world with an 88 Mark VII LSC from 2006-2008. Beautiful handling car, comfortable seats, and oh that 5.0. I'd love to have one as a summer road trip car (I'll take a dark green '92 please) but had to get back to the big Town Car after some scares with the intricate ABS system and some other hard to find parts.