Top-level luxury saloons are rarely purchased as an investment, but they hold their place in the market because they are status symbols. Among status symbols, Mercedes has long been at the top, with the Maybach brand creating even more exclusivity than Rolls-Royce or Aston Martin. A 2004 Maybach 57 sedan sold for $93,500, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s 2016 Scottsdale auction. The car has fewer than 20,000 miles on the clock. Was this a stratosphere car gliding downward into Affordable Classic range — or was it an under-the-radar bargain? The few examples of the Maybach 57 that are available for purchase have held their value better than some of England’s finest, but $93,500 is a long way from the $390,000 most of these cost when new. So why would anyone shelve out this kind of money for a depreciating luxury car that might soon be forgotten in the world of trends and fads?

Financially depreciated, exclusivity still intact

One constant with the Maybach is its tremendous value for the money. Why buy a new, top-of-the-line luxury brand when you can get a discontinued one with almost no mileage for half the price — or less? Buying this car is a lot like shopping for chocolates on February 15, as the product is really too new to have deteriorated (Aston Martin Lagonda, cough), and looks up-to-date. Most people don’t know they stopped making Maybachs in 2013, and this means that they still retain their exclusivity. The fact that the new extended-wheelbase 2016 Mercedes-Benz S600 wears a subtle “Maybach” badge helps. Another attribute is that at nearly 12 years old, this example has probably had all of its teething problems rectified. While there will still be more down the road — and perhaps a few from this one sitting in the desert sun — at 20,000 miles, let’s hope any major issues have been put to bed.

Pierre’s list of buyers

So who specifically would want a Maybach 57? I figured the best way to answer this question would be to make a list:
  • Someone who is running a car-for-hire service and is catering to upscale clients.
  • A wedding car service, because it’s white.
  • A nostalgic type who used to have a W100 (the original 600), misses the exclusivity, but doesn’t have the fortitude to deal with the 600’s needs today.
  • A collector who currently owns a 600 but wants the modern counterpart.
  • A collector who wanted a 600, until he/she discovered how unforgiving they are — and decided to take the easy (Maybach!) way out.
  • A shrewd individual who understands that depreciation is the entry strategy to some of the finest modern goods money can buy.
  • A wealthy hoarder who goes to pawn shops looking for jewelry.
  • An older person who has lots of money, has owned Mercedes-Benz cars their whole life, loves their smart phone and wants to be comfortable when they drive to doctor’s appointments.

Pierre’s list of non-buyers

  • And now the opposite must be examined: Who wouldn’t buy this car?
  • A hip person with vintage tastes between age 20 and 50. On my end of the scale, they want W108s, W115s, W123s and possibly a real 600. The new stuff is too dull for them.
  • Someone who can easily afford the latest and greatest (S600 Maybach), and not feel the $350,000 sting.
  • A funeral-car contractor.
  • An enthusiastic type who enjoys driving and wants total control of a vehicle. Also, someone who works on his own car and enjoys doing so.
  • A Chrysler executive, unless it was out of revenge or self hatred.
  • Anyone who cares about the future of our planet.
  • A highly observant individual who has had bad experiences at their local Mercedes dealership, and knows what these cost to service.
  • Keith Martin.

My promises to the new owner

I’m not usually one to make promises, but under these circumstances, I think I can get away with a few. First of all, I promise anyone who buys a Maybach that it will take months to learn how to operate all of the controls. These cars are rife with innovative and confusing technology. Also, I will promise you that every bill from the dealer will be in the four- or five-digit range, and they will come pretty often. Don’t worry. I will also make a few happy promises. I promise that people will secretly envy you for having the most exclusive Mercedes product of the new century. I promise that your peers will notice you — even if it is just for a few seconds. I also promise you that you will be extremely comfortable every time you go anywhere, and that you will be safer than any other motorist on the road in your Maybach. I can also say with certainty that you will be able to outrun anyone who gives you any trouble on our highways — unless they are driving a sports car that costs more than your $93,500 Maybach. What this boils down to is that sometimes we have to do things for ourselves. I’m pretty sure that if this person had $93k to spend on a car, they have made some good choices. At the end of the day, it isn’t about the long-term valuation of the vehicle we choose, but more about the pleasure we get from owning it. That said, I hope the new owner is enjoying this car. Well bought for the pleasure of having the finer things in life — at a big discount. ♦

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