The Maybach Exelero — a tyre test experiment gone mad
If we asked you to think of the ultimate Maybach, what would you think of? The latest S650? The iconic 57S? Well no matter what, chances are it would be a long ultra-luxury barge with no intention of speed and the thrill of chilling replacing the Thrill of Driving. Well, in 2003 a tyre manufacturer by the name of Fulda Tyres wanted to make a tyre fit for a fast and heavy car. They approached Maybach to make a car to both test and promote their tyres and voila, the Exelero was born.
You must be wondering why they approached Maybach. They could’ve gone to a manufacturer more accustomed to making fast cars like Ferrari, or grand tourers like Bentley. So why did they choose Maybach? Well it turns out that this isn’t the first coming together of the two companies. Back in 1938, Fulda Tyres had a peculiar requirement — to get a car that could sustain a speed of 200kmph for a long duration, in order to test their new performance tyres. This gave birth to the W38 Stromlinienfahrzeug. It was a purpose built, incredibly aerodynamic coupe and it’s looks have certainly rubbed off onto the Exelero. The requirements from Fulda Tyres, in 2003 were very specific too — Maybach was to make a car that could go 350kmph, and they were told to make it as heavy as they pleased.
For the Exelro, Maybach used the SW38 chassis and underpinnings of their 57S limousine, making it an incredibly long coupe and the fact that it is seven feet wide means the Exelero won’t be ‘zippy’ around town. The Exelero had the same V12 engine as the 57S but with everything slightly tuned up. The cubic capacity was bumped up to 5.9-litres, from 5.5-litres and power was upped to 691bhp from a not-measly 543bhp. The standout figure though is the humongous 1020Nm of torque, nearly enough to slow down the rotation of the Earth every time you launch the car! Okay, not really. This was done thanks to larger turbochargers, and intercoolers and radiators to keep things running smoothly.
So that’s the power stuff sorted, but remember I mentioned something about it having to be heavy? Well, the Exelero weighed in at 2660kg, dry! For perspective, a Hummer H3 has a kerb weight of 2194kg. So the Exelero was about 500 kilos heavier, without any necessary fluids or fuel! The Exelero’s kerb weight was closer to 2900kg. Yet, the Exelero could accelerate from 0 to 100kmph in just 4.3 seconds!
Talking about performance, once the car was built it was taken to the Nardo test track, which is essentially a very large circle, for testing purposes. The car achieved a speed of 350kmph, fulfilling its purpose. Now what do you do with a one-off ostentatious, fast, luxury coupe? You sell it, of course. The car exchanged multiple hands and made multiple appearances, the most notable of which was it’s cameo in rapper Jay-Z’s music video. However, more recently it is in the hands of a private collector based in Europe.
With no other examples ever built, the Exelero will not be seen on the road by many, not many people know it even exists. It isn’t the most beautiful car, nor is it the fastest in today’s age of 1000bhp hypercars. However, the Exelero has a backstory that very few cars can match, which makes it worth the reported $8 million asking price, for the owner at least.