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I CAME close to owning a Maybach 57, the Millennium’s Über-S-Class of automobiles.
In retrospect, maybe not that close. But the tale touches on museum-worthy arts and crafts, mobile superiority and social dynamics of more than a decade ago.
The Maybach was the top-line machine of Mercedes-Benz, just as the Lexus is the top Toyota product, the Infiniti, the top Nissan, and the Acura, the top Honda.
No, for Mercedes, make that the top in spades. Redoubled. And trumps.
Mercedes-Benz exhibited a Maybach concept at 1997 Tokyo Motorshow. Maybachs went on sale in the U.S. in 2003. By 2013, the brand disappeared.
The Maybach 57 resided on an extended Mercedes S-Class chassis, giving an overall length of 225.5 in. (just beyond 5.7 meters). A twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-12 provided propulsion comparable to a Porsche 911 Carrera’s of the period. The Maybach 57’s Road Test, R&T, September 2003, reported 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, the quarter in 13.4 sec. at 106.4 mph.
A sumptuous cabin set the Maybach apart from mere automobiles. Seating surfaces were Grand Nappa leather; surrounding panels of Nubuck leather, selected for its soft hand. The R&T test car was trimmed in amboyna, a reddish-brown Indonesian veneer with a fine circular grain. A tri-louvre band of amboyna encircling the cabin was exemplary of the finest woodworking.
I succumbed to the Maybach 57’s artistry.
Which brings me to my (alas, unsuccessful) conniving to own one.
Around the R&T office, it was a time of walk-a-thon schemes, little Madeline’s third grade walking for a new handball court, Scott’s junior high class walking for Third-World yurt refurbishing.
I attempted to use this worthy social phenomenon to my advantage. Here’s how it worked out:
As part of the Road Test article, I visited a Maybach Commissioning Centre. That is, you didn’t “buy” a Maybach. You entered a private area and consulted with a nice man who offered color chips, leather and wood samples. On one wall was a giant flat-screen TV on which your car was shown.
Then you committed $50,000 down, and you got a color printout of your car that got pasted in a hardcover book, Dream, Imagine, Create, on a page labeled “There is only one Maybach: Yours.”
Upon returning to the office, I told my colleagues that I got caught up in all this and signed on the dotted line. This, despite the fact that “I didn’t have 50 Large laying around at the moment.”
Thus, the Simanaitis-Maybach Walk-A-Thon.
Once accumulating the cash, I planned to walk from home to the Maybach purveyor, a distance of 18.8 miles. “And You Can Help!” I noted, with two levels of involvement:
• Down payment. Pledge $50,000/18.8 miles = $2659.57 per mile.
• Full pop: Pledge $331, 870/18.8 miles = $17,652.66 per mile.
“You can turn your back,” I said. “Or you can help. Your call.”
My colleagues’ responses were varied, including one who simply said, “Huh?”
Others made extensive use of the office copying machine, including one stack of photocopied Benjamins (at 30 percent, to forestall criminal charges) and another who came up with Twenty Large (at 200 percent). The only hard cash was 2¢, itself a telling comment.
The Dream, Imagine, Create book ended up in the R&T library.
I retained a rather nice spiral notebook with embossed Maybach cover. And memories of the Maybach 57’s wonderful woodwork, fine leathercraft, sumptuous details and amazing performance.
Parking it out front temporarily raised our property value (the car was worth considerably more than the house). But giving away wife Dottie’s Fiat raised it even more, permanently. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014