Trials are about to begin on the super-luxury car of the future, the Mercedes Benz Maybach.
The first of more than 20 prototypes will begin world-wide testing this month, just three years after the design study took the automotive industry by storm when it was unveiled at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show.
Mercedes engineers have, for some considerable time, been testing the advanced suspension and drive systems of the new car, concealed beneath the bodywork of modified test cars.
The Mercedes Benz Maybach, which at more than 19ft long is two-feet longer than the Mercedes S600, will be powered by a twin-turbo V12 engine and will ride on an air suspension system specially developed to offer maximum comfort for this super-luxury car.
Levels of refinement and comfort will be the highest imaginable on the Mercedes Benz Maybach and will include innovative entertainment systems and a complete business package. It will set new standards on key features including climate comfort and low noise levels.
Customers will also be able to design elements of the Mercedes Benz Maybach to meet their own personal requirements with the help of dedicated engineers and designers.
So, each one of these luxury limousines can be exclusive and unique to match exactly the individual customer's demands. A shorter wheelbase version can be built on request.
Professor Jürgen Hubbert, DaimlerChrysler board member responsible for Mercedes Benz and smart cars, said: "The design study of 1997 has led to one of the most ambitious development projects in the entire automobile industry.
"With the help of our experienced engineers and designers we shall be offering customers an automobile which will meet the highest expectations in terms of style, appointments, comfort and technology."
The unique combination of luxury, spaciousness, timeless styling, exclusive materials and perfect workmanship will stamp every Mercedes Benz Maybach with an individual personality.
Production of the Mercedes Benz Maybach will start in 2002 in a new unit, similar to a custom shop, which is now being installed in the Mercedes plant at Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart.
The Mercedes Benz Maybach name is homage to Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929) who was recognised as a genius of car design. He was a close friend of Gottlieb Daimler and helped to develop the first Daimler cars. Maybach's son, Karl, went on to build large, luxury cars bearing the Maybach name, such as the legendary Maybach 12.
Full details of the Maybach, including the price and specification, have not yet been confirmed. However, it is expected that the first right-hand drive versions for the UK will be built in 2003.
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