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August 2002 - Nr. 8


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Racing History

DaimlerChrysler Brings Back Golden Age of Limousine Luxury

   TWIG - Seldom has a car received as resplendent a welcome as DaimlerChrysler’s Maybach limousine did in New York City Tuesday (July 2). After a smooth transatlantic crossing in a custom-made bed aboard the luxury liner QE2, the elegantly retro-styled vehicle rolled on deck into the hazy dawn of a midsummer day to pose for a few shots against the Manhattan skyline, then was swept up by helicopter for a VIP escort to Wall Street. There, a host of well-heeled executives and international journalists murmured their approval -and perhaps envy - of the $350,000 craft.

As this glamorous arrival indicates, the Maybach is intended to harken back to the golden age of limousine travel. In the first half of the 20th century, German father-and-son team Wilhelm and Karl Maybach built the most sophisticated and sought-after limousines of their day in cooperation with Gottlieb Daimler. Between 1921 and 1941 they turned out 1,800 limousines distinguished with their family name. DaimlerChrysler is now reviving the illustrious brand in hopes of capturing a slice of the lucrative limousine market from manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and Bentley, until now the preferred purveyors to the rich and royal around the world. DaimlerChrysler sees its client base as individuals with 30 million dollars or more in their trust funds.

Whether Wall Street is the best place to find such clients these days is a question that did not seem to trouble Mercedes-Benz executive Juergen Hubbert as he stood in Lower Manhattan, beside Irmgard Schmid-Maybach, heir to the limousine legend, and proclaimed that "more than a century of experience in the development and production of luxury automobiles has predestined DaimlerChrysler to give new life to the Maybach name." The new Maybach 62, which stretches nearly 20 feet in length, and a second, shorter model, the Maybach 57, can entertain even the most jaded passengers with standard features such as a DVD player, bar refrigerator, three mobile phones and multiple television screens. Or it can lull them to sleep on reclining leather seats to the purr of a 12-cylinder, 550-horsepower twin turbo engine - the most powerful to be found under the hood of any limo, DaimlerChrysler boasts.

From fall 2002 on, some 330 employees at DaimlerChrysler’s Sindelfingen factory will turn out an average of five cars each day. The company estimates sales at roughly 1,000 vehicles per year, and reports that it already has more than 300 orders on its books. Interest among royal houses around the world is said to be particularly keen. Presumably, princes won’t need to make an appointment at any of the 12 showrooms set to open in major cities around the world.

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