Power. Many things could come to mind when you think of that word. Let’s narrow it down a little more and consider what cars embody that profound word. No car fits the description better than the one-of-a-kind Maybach Exelero. With its unique build and sleek design, it stands out from any crowd.
You might be surprised to learn where the story begins. It goes all the way back to 1938, with a German tire company called Fulda. They wanted to build a car with the sole intent of using it to test their new high-performance tire called the Fulda Carat Exelero. Coachbuilders Dorr & Schreck were initially tasked with building the automobile capable of sustaining 200km/h (124mph) over a significant distance and chose to collaborate with Maybach Motorenbau and aerodynamicist Freiherr Reinhard Koenig Fachsenfeld. This project gave birth to the ‘W38 Stromlinienfahrzeug’. This car was heavy and fast, capable of pushing the new tires to the limit.
You might notice that the W38 Stromlinienfahrzeug and the Maybach Exelero look very similar, and that is no coincidence. Fast forward nearly 70 years and Fulda wanted another car built with their tires as the centerpiece. It was important that the new car would pay homage to the history of the project, and also reach the speed of 217 mph.
The task of designing the most expensive Maybach car, to many’s surprise, was given to four students from the Pforzheim Design Academy. It took nine months for one of the students’ designs to be chosen, with Fredrik Burchhardt being the student with the winning idea. Similar to the old W38 being a smooth body built on a Maybach SW38 chassis, the new Exelero took on a coupe body on the chassis of a Maybach 57 limousine.
You might not know this but Maybach built engines for tanks in the 20th century, and this car felt like one. At nearly 7 feet wide, 20 feet long, and 5 feet tall, this beast of a car packs some serious punch. It’s loaded with a V12 engine, which was necessary since it weighed over two and a half tons. To eclipse the 217mph mark, some tweaks were necessary. The displacement was increased to 5.9 liters, a larger radiator, turbos, and intercoolers, were fitted. These adjustments resulted in 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds.
After 25 months, the final product was revealed to the public at the Tempodrom in Berlin, Germany on the 11th of May 2005. The best part was that the car had already done what it was made to do, breach 217mph. Actually, it peaked at 218mph at the Nardo Ring just weeks before being unveiled in Berlin.
Once the Exelero had served its purpose, Maybach put it up for sale, exchanging hands a few times over the years. It was initially bought by diamond industrialist Andre Action Diakite Jackson for $5,000,000, who lent it to Jay-Z for his “Lost One” music video. It was then bought by European Entrepreneur Arnaud Massartic for an unknown amount and then was put on the market again in 2011 for $8,000,000. This was the most viral exchange as the rapper Birdman made it known that he would be the one to purchase it, although it is unconfirmed whether or not he actually paid for it.
Since then, it is thought to be in the hands of Frank Rickert, the founder of Mercedes-Benz’s tuner, Mechatronik. It has been a quiet couple of years for the Maybach Exelero, with its most recent cameo being in an episode of Supercar Blondie’s Youtube Channel.
With its instantly-recognizable figure and relentless power, the Exelero is a proud member of the Maybach automotive family.