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Maybach is the newest (and one of the oldest) of the ultra-luxury automobile brands. You know: cars that cost more than houses, and have better legroom. Maybachs are designed and built at the upper limits of luxury cars, competing only with such exclusive makes as Rolls-Royce. Like Rolls, Maybach's history involves the golden age of built-to-order automobiles.

Karl Maybach began the Maybach automobile company. His father Wilhelm had created the first automobile engine with Gottlieb Daimler, and helped construct the first Mercedes. He unveiled the Maybach W3 at the 1921 Berlin Motor Show. It was a marvel of technology, with a high-power engine and a transmission that hinted at the automatic that wasn't yet invented. At the end of the '20s, the Maybach 12 and the Zeppelin were unveiled with revolutionary 200 horsepower V-12 engines. At a price tag of 50,000 Reichsmarks, a single Maybach cost as much as four or five large houses. In 1945, after producing only 2,300 cars, Maybach shut down operations for obvious reasons.

In 2003, DaimlerChrysler revived the Maybach name to unveil a new luxury brand. They now produce the Maybach 57 and 62 (so named because they measure 5.7 and 6.2 meters in length). For all intents and purposes, the 62 is simply a stretched 57 with several additional features. The extra half-meter is spent entirely on rear-seat legroom, allowing for fully recining rear seats. In addition, it has an electrotransparent panoramic glass roof over the rear, adjustable from crystal-clear to opaque via a simple sliding control. With help from a small keyfob, the Maybach unlocks when its owner approaches--not such an impressive feat in the luxury car world. However, it also starts itself the instant that a driver touches the gear selector. Luxurious? Ridiculously so. The Maybach 62 has a MSRP of $357,000, while the 57 is slightly less expensive.

Maybach 62
Engine: 5.5L, 36 valve, twin-turbocharged V-12 producing 664 ft-lb at 2300 rpm, 543 hp at 5250 rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed automatic, modified from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Braking: Electronically controlled four-wheel disc brakes, including dual front calipers and Alphabet Soup Braking.
Suspension: Electronically controlled air suspension.

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