The Urge to Invest in a Maybach


I started thinking about buying an old sedan, something original, and not what you see rolling the streets every day. I wanted something with style and class. Yet a little mysterious. Nothing that my neighbors might have in the driveway anytime soon. A rig I could be proud of, but not the sports-car, flashy, look-at-me, stereotypical “nice car.” Something like a Maybach.

If I buy a well-made, luxury, four-door sedan that’s 15, maybe 20 years old, I could really get some bang for my buck. Maybe a sled with a touch of power under the hood, that’d be pretty sweet.

Two minutes later, I was researching what my monthly insurance premiums would be for a 2005 Maybach 57S. I officially have the urge to invest in a Maybach.

That escalated quickly.

Considering the purchase of a 15-year-old Maybach makes you feel a little bit like Ron Burgundy.

The Perfect Luxury Sedan?

Yes, in fact, a Maybach might be exactly what I’ve been looking for all along in my search for an epic four-door sedan that I could actually use. A daily driver that is low-profile and absolutely juiced to the gills with power and incredible features. This would be a rig that would fly completely below the radar of the unsophisticated and uninformed, which is a large percentage of folks, to be honest. A car that has been largely forgotten, but still packs a huge punch. That’s what I want.

I don’t want any comments, questions, or smart-ass smirks when I pull-up in a luxury sedan. I’m looking for invisibility—total anonymity. Hell, most people might assume it’s just a new Kia model they haven’t seen yet, hardly worth a second glance. That’s what I’m after. The 15-year-old Maybach could be the ultimate hidden-in-plain-sight luxury daily driver.

Confirmed by Car and Driver Magazine

Let me finally rest my case with this review printed back in 2003 by Car and Driver Magazine, after the Maybach’s brand revival of the early 2000s.

Anyone who spends $311,700 on a car wants everybody to know that somebody has arrived when he or she pulls up. Here the Maybach fails. Perhaps a decade from now, when the reputation of this new brand is established, people will reflexively bow at the sight of a Maybach. But it currently has no reputation at all. Our one dramatic and unequivocal civilian reaction came from a plumber in a blue Ford F-150.

Car and Driver Magazine Maybach 57 Review, August 2003

This quote from 2003 turns out to be exactly what I’m looking for in a sedan. I absolutely DO NOT want “everybody to know that somebody has arrived.” I want the opposite of that. Furthermore, over a decade later, the brand didn’t establish a reputation among the general public. Perfect! And just one “civilian reaction” while on a test drive. This is the car for me.

And the icing on the cake, a 2005 Maybach 57S can be found selling anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 these days, with low miles and in great condition. That’s a couple hundred thousand dollars of depreciation you are picking up on this work of art on wheels. A V12 engine encapsulated by extreme 2005-year extravagance.

Maybach Prices

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Ultimate luxury without anyone knowing you’re driving ultimate luxury. The 2005 Maybach 57S. Reminds me of the Phil Hartman “Chameleon XLE” SNL skit from the early 90s.

Maybach Resale Value

A brand new Maybach 57S was selling for $370,000 in 2005. Sure, it weighs over 6,000 pounds but includes over 600 horsepower. Current listings for the 2005 Maybach 57S are in the range of $60,000 to $90,000. The list of luxury features runs a mile long; the car’s manual is an astounding 700 pages. There are solar panels on the roof to power the climate controls while the vehicle is off, to give you an example of how far this car goes over the top on features.

While it’s pretty cool to have a car that just slowly lowers the door lock pins instead of slamming them straight down like every other car, you can imagine how many things could possibly break. More features equal more parts, and more parts equal more things that could break. I’m starting to figure out why these cars are marked down over $200,000 in price. The upkeep cost could be astronomical.

Maybach 2020 Price

For comparison, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach starts at $173,000. What was once a stand-alone brand is now part of the Mercedes-Benz family. The ‘Maybach’ line of Mercedes S560 and S650 sedans are stretched versions out of the Benz lineup.

Considering you would now only pay half the price for the Mercedes Maybach compared to the price a 2005 Maybach demanded, it’s easy to say $370,000 was a little over the top. The sales never took off for the stand-alone, early 2000s Maybach, and the price was probably a primary factor.

The Maybach History

The history of the Maybach Zeppelin. “Big, heavy, and completely lacking in modesty.” Incredible phrasing by the narrator. “When you start the engine, you think more of an airship than a car.”

The German car brand was started in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son as a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH, an aircraft manufacturing company. Originally, the company focused on building engines for Zeppelin airships and rail cars. The Maybach engine was also used in aircraft during World War I.

Maybach built their first concept car in 1919 and introduced it as a production model at the Berlin Motor Show in 1921.

1938 Mercedes Maybach SW38 Roadster

One of my favorite classic Maybachs is the 1938 SW38 Roadster. Only 520 were produced between 1936 and 1939. This was just before the company shifted to building engines for the military as World War II ramped up. After the war, auto production ceased.

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1938 Maybach SW38. Just look at this thing, what a beauty. If you can find an SW38 they will sell for around one million USD.

Rethinking the Maybach Purchase

Ok, so I’m re-thinking my Maybach purchase. After all, that’s why I type this stuff out. To form various conclusions on a few thoughts floating around in my head. And I’m glad that I do the practice; otherwise, I might already have a giant 6,000 pound 57S sitting in my garage.

At 11 miles per gallon, the 2005 Maybach is just not practical for a daily runner. Most people paying almost 400 grand for the car in 2005 didn’t worry about gas mileage, but us normal people looking at a luxury car for 60k actually do concern ourselves with MPGs.

Even though a 15-year-old Maybach falls into the ‘extreme value’ category as far as used cars go, this is only figuring price compared to the original MSRP. Figure in the operational, upkeep, and maintenance cost of the Maybach and the equation doesn’t make much sense.

My final conclusion is to forgo the ’05 Maybach for now and put the funds to good use; I’ve decided to buy a tiny bit of Bitcoin instead. Why? I don’t know; I guess I’m a fan of asymmetrical bets and participating in technology that might transform the future financial infrastructure for 8 billion people rather than buy 5 tons of steel and leather and nearly 9 miles of electrical wires.

Like I’ve said before, this is not investment advice. Go right ahead and make your move on a 2005 Maybach; I’m not going to stop you. But remember that nothing contained in this website should be construed as investment advice. I am not a qualified investment advisor, and I do not pretend to have any expertise in any subject. However, I do have a know-it-all, CFA, brother-in-law with an MBA, who claims to have all the answers, if you need him.

Wilhelm Maybach, automobile visionary and designer