Auto Pioneer Wilhelm Maybach

Wilhelm Maybach

Wilhelm Maybach

On February 9, 1846, German engine designer and industrialist Wilhelm Maybach was born. Wilhelm Maybach, together with Gottlieb Daimler, developed light, high-speed internal combustion engines suitable for land, water, and air use. [1] These were fitted to the world‘s first motorcycle, motorboat, and to a new automobile introduced in late 1902, the Mercedes model.

Wilhelm Maybach was educated at a philanthropic institution at Reutlingen. His skills were detected early there and by the school’s founder and director Gustav Werner and he was sent to the institution’s engineering workshop. Already when he was 15, Maybach headed for a career in industrial design and took classes in physics and mathematics. When he was around 19 years old, Maybach became a qualified designer and was appointed assistant of Gottlieb Daimler.

Maybach followed Daimler to Karlsruhe in 1869, working on new designs for engines, pumps, lumber machinery, and metalworking. A few years later they moved to Cologne where the two engineers started working on stationary gas engines with Nikolaus Otto and Maybach became a Chief Designer of their company. In 1880, Daimler left the company after disagreements and was followed by Maybach to Cannstatt near Stuttgart.

By the end of 1885, Maybach and Daimler developed the first of their engines, which is regarded as a precursor to all modern petrol engines. In 1885, they created the first carburetor, which mixed evaporated gasoline with air to allow its efficient use as fuel. It was used that year on a larger but still compact version of the engine.

Maybach and Daimler improved their fruitful partnership and continued in Stuttgart where they employed over a dozen people. While Daimler took care of most commercial issues, Maybach managed the design department. During the end of the 1880s, they build their first automobile together designing it from scratch. It was launched in Paris in 1889.

In 1900, Maybach designed a novel car called the Mercedes 35 hp and he made a good deal with the professional Austrian race driver Emil Jellinek who bought 36 automobiles in exchange for a new race car design. The race car was also quite successful and Daimler-Maybach cars were getting more popular in the European high society.

Maybach began building engines for Count Ferdinand Zeppelin and his airship during the beginning of the 20th century, which were also quite successful. n August 1929, the Zeppelin LZ-127 used five Maybach-V12 petrol engines of 550 hp (410 kW) each.

When World War I was over, Maybach turned to making high-speed diesel engines for naval and railroad use, and petrol engines for automobiles, but not complete automobiles. However, he began to produce Maybach limousines in 1921. The first model was the Maybach W3 with a 6-cylinder engine, 4-wheel brakes, a new transmission system, and a maximum speed of 105 km/h. It was produced until 1928, selling 300 units, mostly with sedan bodies; the two-seat sport version was less successful. The Maybach W5 followed, with the top speed increased to 135 km/h; 250 units sold in 1927 and 1929.

However, by the mid 1920s, DMG was suffering from the post war economic crisis and under pressure from the banks, it began the process that would result in a merger with Karl Benz’s Benz & Cie., Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik Mannheim in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz AG.

Wilhelm Maybach died at the age of 83 in Stuttgart on 29 December 1929.

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