“Most people don’t self-drive these,” Bigend said, pulling out onto Sunset, headed east.
“Most people don’t drive them at all,” Hollis corrected, from the passenger seat beside him. She craned her neck for a glimpse back into what she supposed could be called the passenger cabin. There seemed to be a sort of frosted skylight, as opposed to a mere moonroof. And a lot of very glossy wood, the rest in carbon-colored lambskin.
A Brabus Maybach,” he said, as she turned her head in time to see him give the wheel a little pat.
To figure out the Brabus Maybach, a flesh-and-blood real car, you have to extricate the two parts that, when merged together make a vehicle about as common and conspicuous as a giant flying squid.
First, you start with a Maybach. Maybach is an elite German auto manufacturer that specialized in ultra-luxury vehicles, but unlike competitors like Rolls Royce or Bentley, flared up and burnt out not once but twice. Wilhelm Maybach was one of the legendary German engineers of the early part of the 20th century. Having designed the very first Mercedes, he and his son went on to found their own engineering company in 1909, which would build engines for German zeppelins and railcars through World War I. Following the war, Maybach started making cars along the lines of the elite Mercedes Benz’s of the time, sprawling majestic vehicles. The company also made engines for military vehicles, including Panzer tanks in World War II.
After the second war, the company went into hibernation in the 1940s, eventually purchased by Daimler. In 1997, the brand was rebooted to compete with the coaches of the super-rich.
Enter Brabus. Known for breaking street legal land-speed records, Brabus is an after-market tinkerer that retools primarily Mercedes Benz sedans, taking already absurdly performing vehicles and making them drive much, much faster, and making their passengers much, much more comfortable. Brabus vehicles have broken multiple speed records, topping off at over 200 mph, but store-bought versions have governors that cap them at 175.
Thus, the Brabus Maybach, based on the 2007 57S or 62S models, the aftermarket work includes the signature, 640-hp V12, getting the three-ton sedan to a top speed of 206 mph, and 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds. Then there’s the interior. Finest leather and lambskin, with polished wood. The Brabus multimedia package includes 15-inch flatscreens embedded behind the front seats, which serve 6-DVD changers or an embedded computer with in-car Internet, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. And, just in case, there’s a hidden laptop stowed in the trunk. All this for just over a half a million dollars.
Who buys such a monstrosity? Apparently mostly fictional, wealthy eccentrics. After selling just over 200 each year and costing the company over a billion dollars, Daimler announced in late 2011 that they were discontinuing Maybach. After a decade-long revival as maker of the world’s most extravagant automobiles, the brand would join the ranks of many other Gibson artifacts, too audacious to survive reality for very long.
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