CC Outtake: 2003 Maybach 57 – First World Problem

While we’ve featured a few big Benzes that have fallen on hard times here on CC, this one perhaps takes the Kuchen.  Walking past an underground garage in the middle of Tokyo this morning to pick up Tatra87 from his domicile, I spotted what I at first thought were just two large black Mercedes sedans, then I realized that while the left one is an older W140 S-class, the one on the right is a Maybach, Mercedes’ separately branded attempt to build an ultra-luxury sedan even larger and significantly more luxurious than an S-Class to compete with Rolls Royce etc.  I’m making two big assumptions here, the first being that this is the oldest version, a 2003, and the second that this is the smaller (shorter) and cheaper version with a base price in the U.S. of $311,700 (in 2003 per Car&Driver magazine).  And now it’s covered in filth and finger dust graffiti.

Fittingly, the concept for the new Maybach (as there had been a Maybach brand producing vehicles prior to WWII) was unveiled at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show.  Finally entering production in 2002, these first generation cars would generally be considered to not have been a success, at least in the United States.  The most common criticism was mostly that it looked too much like the regular Mercedes S-Class to most people not in the know.

There were two versions initially, the 57 and the 62, with the numbers denoting the length in decimeters (equating to 5.7m and 6.2m). Thus the main externally visible differences were wheelbase and length differing half a meter between the two models.  The shorter of the two was deemed to be aimed toward the wealthy owner/driver, and the longer of the two toward the even wealthier that supplied a chauffeur to handle the manual labor, i.e. driving.

Power for the 57 (the base model) was provided by a twin-turbo 5.5l V-12 engine generating 543hp and 664lb-ft of torque.  Although the car weighed around 6,000 pounds this was enough to propel it from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds, not that such a statistic was particularly relevant to its mission; that being to provide the ultimate in luxury to the discerning buyer.


While initially projected to sell around 2,000 units per year, after a decade the car and brand was shelved with total sales having only achieved around 3,000 examples.  Curiously though after a couple of years, the Maybach brand was resurrected yet again in 2015 as a sub-brand for some of the absolute top Mercedes cars and has been seen on at least one stand-alone concept vehicle…  The particular example featured here may in fact run just fine, there’s enough brake dust on the wheels to show it was in heavy use before being parked, but the thick layer of dust and lots of finger graffiti indicates it has been here for quite some time and may very well have a serious issue, not the least of which is that there is likely less than a vibrant used car market for something like this.

Ed. Note: Some graffiti deemed too offensive for publication was digitally removed from the images.