Total Production: 520 1936 - 1939 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During the difficult years that superseded the World War I, the terms of the Versailles Treaty prohibited the manufacture of aircraft engines by German firms, so in turn the company turned its focus to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