12/12/2011 | 2 MINUTE READ

Maybach: Ten Years After

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While cars have become accessible to almost everyone, there are still those built for those few who seemingly breathe a more-rarified (possibly scented) air. Like the Maybach. Which is something you've probably not seen. And probably won't. It's going away.


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Chances are, unless it has been at an auto show, you’ve never seen a real, live Maybach. I certainly haven’t. Even though the brand of über-high-end cars has been around for nearly a decade, having been launched in 2002. Or that should be “relaunched,” as the brand had a previous life, having been founded by Wilhelm Maybach in 1909. According to Daimler, which is the purveyor of Maybach, Wilhelm Maybach is “the ingenious inventor of the first four-wheeled car,” 125 years ago. Who knew?
Earlier this year, to acknowledge that anniversary, they developed the one-off Edition 125! version of the Maybach 57 S (you’d know that it is this model because “Maybach 57 S” is laser scribed into the B-pillar’s sheet metal and “A badge in the engine area featuring ‘Edition 125!’ lettering discreetly reminds the vehicle connoisseur once again just what a unique specimen this model is.” Which is somewhat puzzling in that the car is 18.8-feet long and 6.5-feet wide: “discreet” is not a word that one might associate with the vehicle.)
Earlier, the company put on offer the limited-edition (just 100) Maybach Zeppelin model—Wilhelm Maybach having worked with the blimp-making concern—that included an optional “flacon perfume atomizer” for the rear seat: pop your very own perfume flacon into a Plexiglas sphere, and a “compressor then directs a gentle flow of air into the Plexiglas sphere, fanning the flacon’s perfume molecules into the vehicle interior.”

This isn’t like someone pumping out perfume in a shopping mall: “The aroma experts took the particular biological characteristics of the human nose into consideration when designing the control mechanism.”
The Edition 125! is probably the last model any of us will see from Maybach. Rather than an exclamation point, that should be a period.
Dieter Zetsche recently told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that they’re not going to be developing any new Maybach models. Come 2013, people—not all that many, it turns out—will have to find something else to do with their $370,000-plus.
Clearly, unless you’re some percentage of the 1% that undoubtedly has a decimal point and a few zeros before you get to a whole number, unless you’re in the market for a Bentley or a Rolls or a Maybach, all of this seems somewhat silly.
But clearly, back before 2002, some people in Stuttgart figured that there would be a market for cars, perhaps an annual global market measured in four digits or so, but a market nonetheless. Certainly they didn’t anticipate the global economic meltdown of 2008, or the current conditions in the eurozone.

Things like the Edition 125! are wonders of the auto industry. Vehicle manufacturers are working hard at creating cars for emerging markets that sticker for less than $5,000 as well as cars that can go ten times that price. Suppliers are working on everything from inexpensive one-piece clusters to, well, flacon perfume atomizers.
Some things work out.
Some things don’t.
As we get ready for 2012, you can be sure that the developments will not only continue apace, but that the pace is going to get a whole lot faster as the vehicle market continues its recovery and people at all levels of the buying spectrum get into the market and OEMs and suppliers work ever harder at providing the features and functions that people are looking for—even those that don’t even know what they want.

That’s what Wilhelm Maybach did. And at least in his day, apparently, it worked for him.