AKA August Wilhelm Maybach
Birthplace: Heilbronn, Germany
Location of death: Stuttgart, Germany
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Uff Kirchhof Cemetery, Cannstatt, Germany
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Engineer, Business
Executive summary: Designed the Mercedes
German engineer Wilhelm Maybach was for many years the right-hand man to early automaker Gottlieb Daimler, and together they designed early high-speed internal combustion engines. Maybach was a co-founder of Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft in 1890, but left the firm the following year, when new investors refused him a seat on the Board. He then joined with his friend Daimler -- who had himself quit his company -- in designing a vehicle which won the first organized auto race in 1894. After their victory, Daimler and Maybach were re-installed at Daimler Motor Company. As the firm's technical director Maybach designed a groundbreaking carburetor, introduced in 1895, which was later the subject of several patent-infringement lawsuits, including one case that ended in a ruling against Maybach in England.
In 1900, he was asked by entrepreneur and Daimler board member Emil Jellinek to design a new, more advanced and more powerful car for Daimler's French subsidiary. This led to Maybach's most famous and enduring accomplishment, the Mercedes (named for Jellinek's daughter, Baroness Mercedes Jellinek). The first Mercedes, unveiled in 1901, boasted a six-liter displacement, an output of 35 horsepower, and Maybach's new honeycomb-style radiator. The Mercedes' sleek, pressed-steel frame became the new standard in design, and foreshadowed the end of the "horseless carriage" look that had dominated motor vehicles until that time.
Following Daimler's death in 1900, however, Maybach was again made unwelcome among Daimler management, and in 1907 he left the company. He later joined Luftfahrzeug Motorenbau GmbH, which became his own Maybach Motorenbau GmbH in 1918, and came to prominence manufacturing engines for Ferdinand von Zeppelin's airships. Maybach's company also manufactured limousines and luxury vehicles bearing the Maybach and Zeppelin nameplates, and despite the end of its automaking business in 1939, the business has continued to thrive, evolving into Tognum AG, presently a maker of diesel engines used in heavy machinery, military vehicles, ships, and trains.
His son Karl designed many of the vehicles that made the Maybach brand prestigious, and his other son Adolf was committed to a sanatorium, and was among those put to death in Adolf Hitler's "euthanasia program".
In 1997, Mercedes-Benz -- a corporate descendant of Daimler Motor Company -- revived the Maybach marquis as a new subsidiary, which until 2013 manufactured extreme luxury vehicles intended to compete with Rolls-Royce products.
Father: Christian Maybach (carpenter, d. 1859)
Mother: Luise Wolf Maybach (d. 1856)
Wife: Bertha Maas Maybach (b. 1851, m. 1878, d. 1931)
Son: Karl Maybach (Maybach executive, b. 1879, d. 1960)
Son: Adolf Maybach (b. 1884, d. 1940 euthanasia)
Daughter: Emma Maybach (b. 1892)
High School: Reutlingen Gymnasium, Reutlingen, Germany
Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH Founder & President (1909-12)
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft Co-Founder & Technical Director (1890-91, 1894-1907)
Automotive Hall of Fame
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