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British Industrial History

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Wilhelm Maybach

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Wilhelm Maybach (9 February 1846 – 29 December 1929) was an early German engine designer and industrialist.

From the late 19th century Willhelm Maybach, together with Gottlieb Daimler, developed light, high-speed internal combustion engines suitable for land, water and air use. These were fitted to the world's first motorcycle, motorboat, and after Daimler's death, to a new automobile introduced in late 1902, the Mercedes model, built to the specifications of Emil Jellinek.

Maybach rose to become technical director of the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) but he did not get on well with its chairmen. As a result Maybach left DMG in 1907 to found Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH together with his son Karl in 1909, manufacturing Zeppelin engines.

After the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919 the company started producing large luxury vehicles, branded as Maybach. This continued until the company joined the German war effort in 1940, ceasing automotive production in favour of engines for the Panzer and Tiger tanks.

1930 Obituary[1]


With Dr. Ing. Wilhelm Maybach, who died at Stuttgart, on December 30, has passed away one of the very few surviving pioneers of the gas and automobile engine industry, a man who was successively a partner of Nikolaus August Otto and of Gottlieb Daimler, and who, in his later years, became manager of the Maybach Motorenbau A.-G. at Ludwigshafen, on the Lake of Constance. He died in his 84th year.

Without wishing to reopen the controversial question of the invention of the gas engine, we may take it as generally accepted that, though the early experiments were begun in England somewhere towards 'the end of the eighteenth century, the first commercial compressionless gas engines were put on the market by Lenoir in 1861, and that Otto and E. Langen introduced the compression engine in 1867. Wilhelm Maybach' joined the Gasmotorenfabrik at Deutz (a suburb of Cologne) in 1872, being introduced by Daimler, and was very soon appointed head of the construction department. When the Deutz works, which held the lead- in internal-combustion. engine manufacture for a long period, became involved in patent litigation, and successful rivals entered'the field, Daimler started his own works at Cannstadt, where he died in 1900; Otto had died in 1891.

Maybach, for whom the honour of the invention of the tube ignition is claimed, was at first Daimler’s partner, but started works of his own in 1890, in which he developed the jet carburettor. The two engineers reunited very soon, and their Mercedes car, which' was exhibited at Paris in 1900, established the high general reputation of the firm.

After Daimler’s death in 1900, Maybach was appointed general manager of the firm and retained that appointment till 1907, when he retired. His son, Dr. Karl Maybach, had long before that acquired an important position in the firm and had, in connection with work carried out by Count Zeppelin, become -interested in the construction of internal-combustion engines for aircraft. After some time, Wilhelm Maybach joined the new Maybach Motorenbau A.-G. of his son, acting as business manager, and taking charge of the general organisation. The connection of the Zeppelin works with the Maybach firm has now lasted twenty years, and all the latest Zeppelin airships have been fitted with Maybach motors.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • [2] Daimler company history