He is probably the most granting of the three famous German motor vehicle engineers of that time. This might also be due to the fact that he, born in 1846, lost his parents with 10 years of age, and had to live in a charitable organization, the Gustav Werner Bruderhaus in Reutlingen. Luckily for him, the organization was attached to an engine factory where he worked as a technical draughtsmen. Gottlieb Daimler happened to take over the control of the factory for two years to reorganize it. They felt a mutual admiration for each other and despite an age difference of 12 years, they stayed professionally connected from now on up to the end of Daimler's life.
Already in the job after the next in the gas engine factory Deutz, Karl Maybach proved his importance. Among other things, he is crucially involved in the realization of the Otto engine. He also accompanied Daimler when he left the company after 10 years, because Daimler saw no chance for the realization of a vehicle engine there. From 1882 on, Maybach worked in the Daimler workshop.
He more and more develops himself beyond a purely reproducing role. He probably had a crucial impact on the development and test runs of the new, high-speed four-stroke engine. He managed to convince Daimler of the necessity for a vehicle conceived particularly for the combustion engine. In the new created Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft (engine society) he became technical director in 1895. It was difficult to keep up his loyalty to his aging and heart-ill boss Daimler in his last years.
Maybach almost advanced to be the "king" of the technical designers after the death of Gottlieb Daimler. In the new century Emil Jellinek took control of the Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft, first as successful dealer, later on with a sales monopoly. He was responsible for the fact that the vehicles were all designated after the first name of its daughter "Mercedes".
Mercedes in Spanish means 'grace'
Jellinek tried to allure his customers with racing sucesses. In order to do so there had to be someone to satisfy the customer's demand for ever more innovations and increased engine performance. These innovations had to be on time and reliably for the new race or new season. This person was William Maybach. One could see this co-operation as an example for a short link between customer demands and design. A small selection of the inventions achieved by Maybach:
Spray nozzle carburetor
Tubular cooler with fan
Gear change transmission
Although the Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft experienced a bloom time and exceeded its competitor Benz by far, Maybach experienced hostility against him. When the executive committee united against him, even Jellinek was not able to help him. It took him a long time to recover from this shock. From 1907 until his death in 1929 he shifted his activity to the Bodensee, where he started building engines for the successful airships of count Zeppelin. He founded with Graf Zeppelin and his son Dr. Karl Maybach a company for manufacturing engines for airships in 1910, the had its headquarters in Friedrichshafen with the name Maybach Motoren-Werke from 1918.
The Maybach cars of the years 1921 - 1939 were almost more praised than the of Daimler and Benz, rather compared with those of Rolls-Royce. But this was also true for the prices. The vehicle construction had the origin in the prohibition of aircraft production after the defeat in the First World War by the victorious powers. First, however, there were built no cars, only engines, eg for Spyker in the Netherlands. The six-cylinder were sideguided and interlocked with four-speed transmissions.
From 1921 the first Maybach car appeared with the type designation W3, already at the time, different from the others. Instead of a four-speed gearbox it had a two-speed planetary transmission. It could be switched (with a pedal), but the first gear was used only in special cases. The engine and starter had enough torque to approach simultaneously with the start.
It looks as though the W3 was the first car in Germany with four-wheel brake. The had a 5.8-liter six-cylinder engine with 53 kW (72 hp) at 2200 rpm under the hood. In its crankcase was already installed aluminum. The cylinder head, however, was one-piece with the block which was not quite so difficult to oversee by the yaw control. The dual carburetor was very costly by simultaneous fuel and air control.
As it was quite common at the time, Maybach manufactured only the floor assembly with the engine and chassis. Which weighs at the W3 already more than 1,600 kg. Special body companies then built further, of course, according to the desires of moneyed clientele. That could mean more to pay up to a further third of the purchase price.
The successor W5 was increased from 5.8 to 7 liters and had 88 kW (120 hp). The engine had so much torque that it was easy to use it as a truck engine. The at 94 mm bore huge stroke of 168 mm was absolutely unusual. Two lying down camshafts have driven via rocker arms horizontally arranged valves. An overdrive was added later for the still automated driving in one gear. After all 135 km/h were possible now.
The first V12 with 110 kW (150 hp) was introduced in 1929, its vehicles were called then 'Zeppelin'. This should point to the roughly same engines for the airship construction. It had the same displacement as its six-cylinder predecessor, but much better distributed. So the stroke amounted 'only' 100 mm. The two cylinder heads were now removable.
There have always been parallel to the W and DS7 and DS8 series six-cylinder with more than just one or two gears. With the introduction of the twelve-cylinder that also received aordinary three-speed manual transmission (DS8 even with five-speed) with coupling, however, additionally again with overdrive. It is amazing that the six-cylinder with manual transmissiondespite a significantly lower price, externally were partly not very different from the V12.
The Maybach company has only existed until shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. But from 1935 on there was again a quantum leap forward in the construction. The displacement of the six-cylinder was halved at square design. There were suddenly overhead camshafts and for the time an enormous liter capacity. The pistons were now made of lightweight metal instead of cast iron, the carburetor system was changed once again.
As you can probably see on the rear axle in Figure 2, there were now swing axles rear, first with leaf and then with coil springs. Hydraulic vibration dampers, complete the picture. Optional vacuum-brake power assist units were even available. The two times provided for the series, particularly streamlined body can not prevail, however.
Wilhelm Maybach received still the rightful honors before he died in 1929. Today, he even has the reputation as one of then most responsible for the success of the Daimler company. The Mercedes top model was associated with him a certain time. The production facility of the many Maybach cars is now also owned by Daimler. 11/13