Machine Design

In the market for a car? Here's what $350,000 will buy

Want to one-up the Joneses? Get yourself a 2004 Maybach. Making its debut at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Maybach 62 incorporates elements of the handcrafted luxury vehicles built in the early 1900s by Maybach Motorenbau with Mercedes-Benz technology.

To get your hands on this vehicle, be prepared to fork over a $50,000 deposit. The hand-built vehicles come from Maybach Manufaktur in Sindelfingen, Germany, and take approximately four months to construct and deliver, giving you some time to figure out how to ante up the other $300,000.

The sedan comes in two models: the Maybach 57 and 62. The Maybach 57 is 225.3-in. long on a 133.5-in. wheelbase. The Maybach 62 is 242.5-in. long on a 150.7-in. wheelbase, claimed to be the longest production vehicle in the world. Maybach recommends that you get a chauffeur to drive it. As a comparison, a Lincoln Town Car limousine is 221.4-in. long. Both models are powered by a twin-turbocharged V12 that produces 543 hp at 5,250 rpm and 664 lb-ft of torque at 2,300 rpm. The powerplant mates to a five-speed automatic specially developed to handle the low-end torque. With all this power under the hood, the Maybach 57 does 0-to-60 mph in 5.2 sec, the Maybach 62 in 5.4 sec. Technological advances from Mercedes-Benz include electronic braking, a four-wheel independent air suspension, electronic-stability program, and a supplemental restraint system with 10 air bags.

A multifunction-center console between the rear seats houses a DVD player, VHF TV tuner, six-disc CD changer, telephone system, a refrigerated compartment with its own compressor, and a spot to securely hold a champagne bottle and two glasses. A 21-speaker Bose Dolby sound system is said to give concert-hall-quality sound. Two high-resolution, 9.5-in. LCD screens are power-tilt adjustable with auxiliary inputs for camcorders, mp3 players, or game consoles. Standard wireless headphones let three separate entertainment programs play simultaneously. In the front passenger area, a Comand (Cockpit Management and Data) system integrates controls for navigation, audio, and telephone.

Power-adjustable front and rear seats feature pneumatically adjustable lumbar, shoulder, and side-bolster air chambers. A massage function pulsates the central lumbar cushion, said to reduce muscle fatigue. Rear seats in the 57 include power adjustments for seatback and cushion angle, plus head restraint height and angle. The Maybach 62 carries individual rear-seat recliners that provide full body support plus machined-aluminum folding tables covered with wood and leather. Also, the 62 has an optional glass partition between the front and rear cabin, and includes a curtain and intercom system for communicating with a chauffeur.

Other notable features include an infinitely adjustable hydraulic retainer system that helps keep doors from knocking against objects in tight parking places. A standard power-closing feature pulls the door closed from the first detent position. Standard equipment includes a full power door-pull feature that pulls the doors closed from fully open. An optional electrotransparent rear-roof section is lined with an electroluminescent membrane that, when switched on, emits diffused light. Rear passengers can control the panel's lighting intensity.

Maybach vehicles will be sold and serviced exclusively by select Mercedes-Benz dealers. A standard four-year/unlimited-mileage warranty includes a maintenance plan, subscription to an emergency response service (Tele Aid), and pickup/delivery for service work.

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