DaimlerChrysler has released the Maybach 57 Spezial.
Apparently there were some Maybach 62 customers who loved their cars, and the
appointments, but wanted one they would drive themselves. The 57 Spezial os the
answer. A Maybach with all the electronic bells and whistles, a bit more grunt,
and taughter suspension for the sporting motorist who wants to throw around
several tons of high performance and even higher priced machinery.
If anything, this vehicle is even more over-the-top than the
62. Where the 62 had a 5.5 litre V12 engine putting out around 550 horsepower,
in the 57 Spezial, Daimler-Chrysler has called upon another of their own
‘in-house’ brands AMG, to produce
a 6 litre V12 twin turbocharged engine developing 612 horsepower and 1000 Nm of
torque. This is the engine in the Mercedes CL 65 AMG, which I have driven, and
is sensational. In the Maybach 57 Spezial, this engine produces zero to 100 kmh
times of 5 seconds, almost the next best thing to an FA 18 Tomcat take-off. And
In line with the fact that the customer is king and can have
whatever he or she wants, there is exceptional scope for individualization
offered by the brand. Maybach is also passionately committed to meeting other
unusual customer requests with outstanding craftsmanship and painstaking
attention to every detail. This is reflected in features such as trim elements
finished in gold and precious stones, gold keys, family coats of arms and
various forms of intricate inlay work.
Now since the Maybach 62 was around 100 million baht here, give or take
around two million baht, the 57 S will be even more expensive. I will hazard a
guess at around 120 million, but DaimlerChrysler can correct me if I’m wide of
Last week we had the news that Michelin is to pull out of F1
at the end of 2006. Not surprising, but historically the tyre marketplace has
seen some wonderful competition.
The reason for this is the fact that the tyre market is
enormous. Every car has five of them, unless you have a BMW 1 Series, a 330i or
a six wheeled Panther. The world total is estimated to be 994 million tyres, so
you can see why the war is waged. Of this, total original equipment (OE)
accounts for some 28 percent, and the market is expected to grow steadily over
the next five years. The OE growth is mainly driven by Asia.
The first recorded tyre war was between Michelin and Pirelli
in the Peking to Paris race of 1907. Interestingly, both brands are still are
still at it, trying to get the lion’s share of the business in Europe. But
back in 1907, Pirelli sponsored Prince Borghese’s Itala in the race, and one
tyre survived the whole trip and then out of Paris to Pirelli’s Milan factory
without a puncture. Michelin supported Goddard in a Dutch Spyker. Goddard was a
man who had never driven a car before the race and was seriously under-funded.
He had to sell off some of the tyres to pay for the shipping to China!
Incidentally, Dunlop was there too, supporting the De-Dion teams.
A little earlier history. Up till 1845, tyres were unheard
of. The wooden wheels of the day having metal bands around them to keep the
wheel together, and to give the wheel some durability. The bone-shaking ride had
to be softened, but despite leaf springs, and then later, a band of solid rubber
around the rim, more had to be done. This was the advent of the pneumatic tyre,
invented and patented by R.W. Thomson in 1845 (not by Dunlop, as many people
think). His first design used a number of thin inflated tubes inside a leather
cover. This design actually had advantages over later designs, as it would take
more than one puncture to deflate the whole tyre. However, despite these
technological breakthroughs the solid rubber tyre continued to be the dominant
years later it was left to John Boyd Dunlop to invent the rubber pneumatic tyre
and it was not until his new design that the pneumatic tyre caught on. Dunlop
first advertised his tyres in December 1888 in The Irish Cyclist, and in May of
the following year the new pneumatic tyre had its first breakthrough. A Belfast
cycle race was won on pneumatic rubber tyres, and by then the public were
starting to take note. Never say that advertising does not work!
Unfortunately the original tyre had its drawbacks. The inner
tube was difficult to get at because the tyre itself was stuck to the wheel rim.
So one year later, in 1890, C.K. Welsh patented the design of a wheel rim with a
lip and an outer inextensible cover. This was now the basis for today’s tyre.
Over the years the tyre has developed into today’s high
technology offerings. Two of the most important technological developments were
Michelin’s creation of the radial tyre in 1948, giving a vastly superior grip,
and Dunlop coming up with the tubeless concept in 1972. Ironic that Dunlop was
the first to capitalize on rubber inner tubes, and the first to get rid of them
84 years later! But technology cannot be denied in the modern tyre wars. You
only have to watch Formula 1 racing and see the technology that is put into the
of tyres today, with Bridge-stone and Michelin being represented in F1 (until
the end of 2006).
Just as John Boyd Dunlop invented the inner tube because he
was tired of his
bicycle tyres getting punctures, the tyre industry in the mid 90’s began to
look at ways to stop the problems caused by punctures. The principal one being
changing wheels, especially at night, in the rain. How many of us have had this
problem, sometimes compounded by being unable to get the wheel nuts loose after
they had previously been
tightened by somebody attempting to emulate Arnold Schwarzenegger!
The answer as envisaged by the tyre technologists was to come
up with tyres you could still drive home. Despite the puncture. This was the
start of Run-Flat Technology.
One example is Goodyear’s EMT (Extended Mobility Tire) tyre
technology that permitted the motorist to drive up to 80 kilometres at speeds up
to 80 kph on a totally deflated tyre. EMT tyres need no special wheels and no
complicated mounting procedures by standard tyre fitting machines.
Other tyre companies were not going to be left behind in this
race either and some amazing technology transfers took place. For example, the
Bridgestone Corporation in Tokyo and Continental AG in Germany signed a
technical agreement to co-operate on run-flat tyre systems for passenger cars
and light trucks.
Back came Michelin with another system, called PAX. This is a
new bespoke wheel/tyre set-up with its very own size system and technic al
support. So much technology is involved that Michelin has tied up with its old
adversaries Goodyear, Pirelli and Dunlop to bring the PAX concept forward.
With BMW’s decision to fit run-flat tyres, without option,
to the new 1 Series and the 330, rapid growth in the use of these tyres is
expected. Honda and Nissan are expected to introduce new models using run-flat
rubber next year.
I was very critical of the run-flats on the 330 I tested a couple of months
ago, but I am sure that with universal use of this technology, the suspension
systems will be developed to cope with the harshness produced by these tyres.