1938 Maybach SW38 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Roadster
Coachwork: Hermann Spohn
Chassis Num: 2055
Engine Num: 11164
 
Sold for $1,072,500 at 2016 RM Auctions.
Wilhelm Maybach was a pioneer in the automotive industry and he helped Gottlieb Daimler develop his first car. After inventing the honeycomb radiator, he turned his attention to another new industry - airplanes. He built powerplants for the German Zeppelins before turning using his skills and abilities to the production of automobiles.

His automobiles were technically advanced, built to high standards, and equally expensive. Their SW38 models featured a six-cylinder engine and had a top speed around 100 mph. The bodies were elegant and sporty, their chassis were refined, and the interior featured some of the finest luxury amenities available.

The 3790 cubic centimeter inline six-cylinder motor offered 140 horsepower and was mated to a DSG manual transmission with four speed controlled from a pre-selector in the center of the steering wheel, with a floor-mounted shifter for selection of low, high, and reverse gears. This setup allowed for a total of eight forward speeds and four in reverse.

This particular Maybach SW38 with chassis number 2055 wears coachwork by Spohn Karrosserie, who bodied most SW38 models. The roadster was built on the shorter of the two available SW38 chassis and featured long front fenders with integrated running boards. This example has 'comet tail' chrome spears on the body sides, and a rear-mounted spare.

The first owner of chassis number 2055 was Erich Tghart of Germany. It was ordered as a short-chassis four-door, 4/5 passenger convertible. It is believed that Tghart changed his order after it was initially recorded, or a new body was fitted a short time after the car's delivery.

The car's next known owner was the Director of the Sohler Maschinenfabrik in Wangen, Germany. At the time, the recorded motor number was 11164, which is a replacement of the original unit, and must have been installed prior to 1951. By 1961, the car was in the care of Colin 'Dick' Spaight of Platterville, Wisconsin. The car may have been acquired by Mr. Spaight from a United States Army officer stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, who is thought to have imported it to the U.S. Mr. Spaight sold the car in 1963 to M.L. 'Bud' Cohn. Within a year, the car was sold to Lenora Pope Lytel of Chula Vista, California. She drove it around 15,000 miles and displayed it at the 1965 CCCA Far West Grand Classic and at the Santa Barbara Grand Classic in 1966, as well as in the AACA San Diego Region's annual Antique Ramble in the latter year.

Mrs. Lytel sold the car when she was 72 to 25-year-old Don Williams in 1970. Mr. Williams retained the car for several years before selling it to Phil Malouf of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who re-sold it back to Williams a few years later. It was then given a restoration and finished in its current black with oxblood red interior. After the work was completed, it joined the collection of Richard and Linda Kugh. The Kughns traded it to the Imperial Palace of Las Vegas, Nevada in 1988. It was put on display for over a decade, before the current owner acquired it in 1999.

Maybach built just 520 examples of the SW38 chassis between 1936 and 1939, and approximately 152 remain in modern times. Most the examples wore Pullman limousine or four-door convertible bodystyles. A small number were authentic cabriolets and roadster, making them very rare and adding to their desirability.

This particular example has a SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with two Solex MMO VS 35 carburetors, a four-speed DSG manual transmission, and four-wheel drum brakes.

This SW38 Roadster by Spohn was offered for sale at the 2016 Monterey auction presented by RM Sothebys. The car had an estimated value of $1,250,000- $1,600,000, and was sold for the sum of $1,072,500 which included buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2016
Maybach has always held a reputation for designing luxury cars that are as exclusive as they are expensive. They have always been prized for their powerful engines and sophistical transmissions. Custom-built to each customer's taste, you won't find a selection of popularly equipped Maybach's sitting at dealer lots. Rather, one has to order your vehicle by visiting a Maybach dealer's 'Commissioning Studio' housed inside a Mercedes-Benz dealership. Today the brand is owned by DaimlerChrysler and is based in Stuttgart. Maybach automobiles were among the leading and most prestigious of German vehicles during the 1930's and a direct competition with the Mercedes-Benz.

This elite company has a fascinating history that began with Wilhelm Maybach, one of Germany's first automotive engineers. The company is named for the man who designed the first car to bear a Mercedes badge in 1901. Wilhelm has been called the 'King of the Designers' by the French. Later, Maybach teamed up with Graf Zeppelin to produce engine for the airships known as Zeppelins. Becoming Germany's premier luxury car line, the first Maybach was crafted in 1919 with his engineer son Karl alongside him. Karl Maybach was an innovative engine designer, much like his father. The Maybach was intended to be the recreation of an automobile that, in its day, was one of Mercedes' most formidable competitors.

During the difficult years that superseded the World War I, the terms of the Versailles Treaty prohibited the manufacture of aircraft engines by German firms, so in turn the company turned its focus to the production of engines for ships and locomotives. Karl Maybach was also infused with the belief that the company had a future as an automobile engine supplier.

Contracts were difficult to line up, and due to financial difficulties with the only firm that had seemed interested, Karl Maybach eventually decided to start making cars on his own.
In 1921 at the Berlin Motor Show, the advanced design W3, the first Maybach, was debuted and garnered plenty of attention. The idea was to build the most technically advanced vehicle possible, and Karl especially wanted to cater to the wealthy and elite crowd. Every Maybach was designed to be exceptionally unique, with a custom body characteristically designed to the buyer's specifications. In 1929 the Maybach 12 DS was introduced, the first production car with a V12 engine.

Following several models and projects, the company limousine, the Type SW 38 was introduced in 1936. This was the final model to be released before the war, and was available in three versions of the straight six engines, a 3.5 liter, 3.8 liter, and a 4.2 liter.
This luxurious vehicle offered elaborate and extravagant seating for seven passengers. The vehicle was equipped with five standard seats and two folding seats. The world was stunned by the Maybach SW 38, which was capable of reaching speeds of more than 120 mph, a speed considered ‘blinding' during the era.

Available in various body-types, as was typically standard with pre-war cars, the SW was available in both Sedan and Cabriolet. A total of 520 models were built between 1935 and 1941. Today, only around 152 Maybachs are known to exist, some bringing upwards of a million dollars at auctions. Custom-bodied V12 Zeppelins also can command huge prices as classic car auctions.

A total of around 520 vehicles of the SW38 were built during the production of years from 1936 to 1939. To this day, very few of the SW38 are still around today. The power of the vehicle came from a 3.8 liter engine, with an inline six cylinder engine. The manual transmission offered one reverse gear, and five forward gears. The front and rear doors were both hinged on the center column.

The front seats were individual, and had a robe rail and storage pocket on the rear of the backrest for the convenience of rear seat passengers. Resting atop of the radiator shell was the classy MM (Mayback-Motorenbua) hood ornament. Small rectangular box units were placed on each side of the windshield that contained turn signal flasers that flipped outward when activated. Due side-mount spare times were also featured on the vehicle.

The engine was a four-stroke spark-ignition engine with 6 cylinders. The displacement was 3815 cc, and had an output of 140 hp at 4000 rpm. The transmission was the Mayback DSG 35 double overdrive transmission. The SW 38 carried a wheelbase of 11.08 ft, and had an overall length of 16.40 ft.

Unfortunately, the company's focus was redirected to manufacturing engines for military, marines and rail purposes, and by 1941, production of Maybach automobiles ceased.
In 2003, the Maybach brand was resurrected in 2003 after considerable effort from Daimler-Benz and showcased a lineup that consisted of a pair of luxury sedan models.

Willhelm Maybach was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1996. From 1921 until the WW2, a total of 2,300 vehicles, including show cars and the early W1 and w2 prototypes were constructed. Today, around 150 Maybach vehicles remain, and most bring upwards of a million dollars at auction.

By Jessica Donaldson
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