10 December 2003
I never did quite understand why DaimlerChrysler felt the need to exhume the name and the nameplate of Wilhelm and Karl Maybach to sell a new ultra-luxe sedan with a price tag that looks more like a real-estate deal; wasn't Mercedes-Benz supposed to be "Das Beste oder Nichts"?
Whatever they might have been thinking, the child of this German brain trust, the putative vehicle of choice for NBA stars, rappers, and other people with more money than taste, is moving in numbers which can be charitably described as "limited": Autoextremist.com reports that Maybach sold all of eight cars last month, bringing the yearly total to a startling 59. At three hundred K per copy (for the short-wheelbase 57; add fifty K for the 62, half a meter longer), that's still a fair chunk of change, but it's not the sort of volume with which one can challenge Rolls-Royce.
Except maybe this year. BMW, owner of the Rolls-Royce name and tradition, has issued something called the Phantom, which in its own way is as over the top as the Maybach. Eight of them crawled out of showrooms in November, making 79 for the year.
Still, you probably shouldn't venture into your local dealership expecting rebates.