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Lot 162

1938 Maybach Zeppelin DS8 Roadster

  • Chassis no. 1468
  • Engine no. 25155

Sold for kr. 10,192,000

This lot will be sold with the following documents: Bill of Sale

August Maybach was the technical director of Gottlieb Daimler’s company until 1907, after which, he and his son Karl designed a six-cylinder car that they hoped to market to Opel. In the summer of 1908, however, Maybach wrote to his friend Count Zeppelin, proposing to make engines for airships. Zeppelin set the Maybachs up as engine manufacturers, a prosperous enterprise until the Treaty of Versailles forbade German aero production. As a result, Maybach automobiles ensued. The W3, launched in 1921, was one of Germany’s most expensive automobiles, more costly than a Mercedes 28/95, which limited its production to some 700 in six years.

Karl Maybach became obsessed with multi-speed gearboxes, beginning with a schnellgang (fast speed) overdrive. Over time, this developed further to a combination sliding-gear box coupled with a separate overdrive. The effort culminated in the doppelschnellgang unit, with integral overdrive giving eight speeds forward and vacuum-assisted shifting. The ultimate development was the DS8 Zeppelin, with a 7,978 cc V-12 engine and the doppelschnellgang gearbox, also called the “Variorex”. Built from 1932 until World War II, the DS8 numbered only 25 a year through 1937, and another 25 thereafter, through 1940.

One of a very few survivors of the DS8 Zeppelin Maybach, this car has the rare Variorex vacuum-change gearbox, reportedly one of about 100 manufactured. When acquired, it was almost devoid of body, as a period photograph shows. It was reconstructed with a reproduction roadster body in the sporting idiom, generally following the lines of original Erdman & Rossi bodies. Nevertheless, the elegant presence of this Maybach makes it very attractive to driving enthusiasts.

August Maybach var teknisk direktør for Gottlieb Daimler’s firma indtil 1907, hvorefter han og hans søn Karl designede en seks-cylindret bil, som de håbede at kunne sælge til Opel. I sommeren i 1908 skrev Maybach dog til sin ven grev Zeppelin og foreslog, at han kunne fremstille motorer til luftskibe. Zeppelin valgte Maybach motorfabrikant, en blomstrende forretning indtil Versailles-traktaten forbød tysk luftfartsproduktion. Som resultat af dette gik Maybach over til bilproduktion. W3, som blev lanceret i 1921, var en af Tysklands dyreste automobiler og kostede mere end en Mercedes 28/95, hvilket begrænsede produktionen til 700 på seks år.

Karl Maybach blev opslugt af flerhastigheds-gearkasser, startende med schnellgang (hurtig hastighed) overdrive. Gennem tiden udviklede dette sig til en kombinations glide-gearkasse med separat overdrive. Indsatsen kulminerede med enheden doppelschnellgang, med integreret overdrive, som gav otte hastigheder fremad og et vakuumassisteret skifte. Det ultimative design var DS8 Zeppelin med en 7,978 cc V-12 motor og doppelschnellgang-gearkassen, også kaldet "Variorex". Bygget fra 1932 og indtil anden verdenskrig, blev der fremstillet 25 model DS8 frem til 1937 og yderligere 25 derefter, frem til 1940.

Denne bil er en af meget få tilbageværende eksemplarer af DS8 Zeppelin Maybach, og har det sjældne Variorex vakuumskift-gearkasse, som er en af omkring 100 fremstillede. Da den blev erhvervet, var karosseriet næsten helt væk, som fotografiet viser. Den blev rekonstrueret med et reproduktionsroadsterkarosseri i det sportslige formsprog, generelt følgende designet fra originale Erdman & Rossi-karosserier. Ikke desto mindre gør denne Maybach elegante fremtoning den yderst attraktiv for bilentusiaster.


Please note the original coachwork of this vehicle was a Spohn Cabriolet.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Kurt Forry

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more