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LOT 48

The ex-Maharaja of Patiala 1933 MAYBACH DS-8 ZEPPELIN CABRIOLET Coachwork in the style of Spohn Chassis no. 1435 Engine no. 482-25120

Estimate: DKK20,000,000 - DKK24,000,000
Lot 48
The ex-Maharaja of Patiala
The Frederiksen Auction|26 September 2015, 14:00 CEST|Denmark - Ebeltoft

The ex-Maharaja of Patiala
Coachwork in the style of Spohn

Chassis no. 1435
Engine no. 482-25120

7,922 cc SOHC 60 Degree V-12 Engine
200 bhp at 3,200 rpm
8-speed Manual Transmission With Pre-Selection
4-Wheel Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes

*One of the most luxurious and advanced cars of the pre war era
*Rare and Powerful Twelve Cylinder Zeppelin Maybach
*A convertible of otherworldly proportions, yet elegant and restrained
*Coachwork in the style of Spohn, recreated by Wagner to incredible standards
*Presents as a fresh restoration in absolutely stunning condition


The dirigibles of Count von Zeppelin first appeared in service between Lake Constance and Berlin in 1910. Germany carried on the tradition of the airship between the wars, and the giant Graf Zeppelin of 1928 had an outstanding career. The great German airship was powered by 12-cylinder Maybach engines and made over 600 trouble-free flights over the course of nine years.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin had turned to Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929), the designer of the first Mercedes in 1901 and heralded as "the genius behind Daimler", for assistance in building dirigible motors. As a consequence, Maybach set up a subsidiary next to the Zeppelin Airship Company at Friedrichshafen with his son Karl (1879-1960) in charge of engine production. The first Maybach W3 luxury automobile made its debut at the Berlin Motor Show in 1921. The DS-7, which was introduced in 7-litre form in 1929, was the first Maybach automobile chassis designed to accommodate a large displacement V-12 which had been developed from the engines used to provide the power for Zeppelins. DS stood for Doppel Sechs, or Double Six, similar to the model designation used by Daimler in England, and "7" indicated the size of the engine, namely 7-litres.

The name "Zeppelin" was reserved for the fabled DS-8, first shown at the Paris Automobile Salon in 1930. In accordance with Maybach terminology, this model was then a Maybach Double Six, with the engine capacity increased to an astounding 8-litres. "The 12-cylinder engine," said Karl Maybach, "substantially approaches a turbine-like engine in the evenness of its running". Not only was the DS-8 equipped with this colossal 200 bhp engine which provided a substantial performance advantage over other ultra-luxury chassis of the period, it was also fitted with a new pre-selector transmission, where the gears were shifted from the steering column without the use of a clutch.

At a time when even expensive luxury cars usually came with cumbersome non-synchromesh 3-speed gearboxes, Karl Maybach had spent much energy developing multi-speed 'boxes, beginning with the installation in earlier models of a fourth overdrive gear, called schnellgang in German, or "fast speed". Maybach then developed the concept further into a combination sliding-gearbox coupled with a separate overdrive. The culmination was the so-called doppelschnellgang unit with integral overdrive which provided a total of eight forward speeds forward and vacuum-assisted shifting. Maybach called it the Variorex and fitted it to the already overwhelming DS-8. To complete the grandiose specification, there was a novel system of servo-assisted pneumatic braking, using Bosch-Dewandre patents.

The exploits of Maybach in the skies were used to promote the new model in the catalogue: "...there is no better proof of the reliability of the 12-cylinder V-shaped engine than the unrivalled achievements of the same type motors which were used in the Graf Zeppelin in its world famous flights". Among Maybach's competitors, only Marmon and Hispano-Suiza used larger capacity engines for their models.

Light alloys were used liberally for the construction of the chassis, and the "recommended" Maybach coachbuilder was Hermann Spohn, 12 miles away at Ravensburg. In general, the Zeppelin chassis invited conservative designs, not least because many of them were used by German ambassadors and the absolute elite. These massive cars were most often to be seen and admired at state functions or the watering places of the extremely rich. While manufacture was very limited, the Zeppelin remained in "production" until 1939, when the resources of the Maybach Motorenbau were redirected to the German war effort. From 1921 and until the end of automobile production, Maybach managed to manufacture a mere 1,800 cars of all models.


At some 5.5 metres in length, the Zeppelin ranked as one of the most prestigious German cars in the world – "a car of the greatest elegance and power which you would give your last wish to own," as a Maybach brochure put it.

Chassis 1435 was first fitted with a sumptuous seven-passenger fully transformable state limousine body by Spohn and was presented to His Highness, The Maharajah of Patiala and Raj Pramukh, which in translation means His Highness, The Supreme King of Patiala and Chief of the Kingdom. The car was given as a gift of State from the Reichsmacht on behalf of Adolf Hitler in expectation of neutrality, or favour, for the German cause. Extravagantly appointed, the car carried a full set of accessories, including jump seats, twin metal-encased sidemounts and an integrated trunk. The lighting system was especially complete with Grebél head and driving lights plus two searchlights mounted one above the other in front of the imposing Maybach grille. The top or bottom one – or both – would be lit to indicate whether either the Maharajah or the Maharani alone, or the exalted couple was being transported together.

The gift of this immense automobile was accepted graciously, but with the coming of war and given its origin, it was hidden for the duration. And as far as the Führer was concerned, it was all for nought: the Maharajah pledged his support to the Allies during the hostilities. The car was first registered on 20 April 1951 following the establishment of Indian title and registration laws and carried a red licence plate No. 7, which indicated a State car. The original certificate of registration for Patiala and East Punjab States Union shows that the car was tax exempt from 1951 to 1967. The Maybach, as used by the Maharajah on State occasions, was arguably the most important car of its time in India. As an article titled The Grand Old Ladies in Times Weekly dated 21 November 1971 states: "In the annals of the history of Indian vintage cars, perhaps the most historic is a 1933 model Maybach Zeppelin made especially for the German dictator Hitler and presented to the Maharaja of Patiala."

When the car was sold at auction in September 1997 in Geneva by its second owner as part of the Allerton Castle Motor Collection, it was finished in maroon and black with red upholstery to the interior. Around the years 2001 to 2002, the car belonged to a Dr. Fassbender who is well-known in German Maybach circles. Fassbender had no need for the enormous space provided by the State cabriolet body, as he preferred driving the car alone or occasionally together with his wife. For this reason, he decided to have a two-seater Cabriolet constructed for the chassis in accordance with a period Spohn design which had never been built.

The restoration work and body rebuild took approximately three and a half years and was performed from 2002 to 2005. The superbly constructed body was created by Reifen-Wagner in Landshut, Germany under the supervision of Rolf Wagner and Horst Duschek, who has since retired. A large and extensive photographic file documenting the construction of this marvellous body comes with the car. The old state cabriolet body was kept and preserved. In 2012, this body was sold to Dr. Hofmann, owner of the Museum for Historical Maybach Vehicles in Neumarkt, Germany.

Today, this Maybach is a two-passenger cabriolet of almost otherworldly proportions. On the one hand, this is a conveyance with a bank-vault like solidity in its expression with its massive split windscreen and semi-skirted wings, while on the other, the virtually endless length of the bonnet coupled with the equally interminable sweep of the front wings lend it a grace and almost light-hearted elegance which belies its prodigious proportions. The refinement of the dark blue body is accentuated by a graceful chromed sweep-spear running from the tip of the bonnet at the radiator grille along the flank of the car until it curves smoothly downward to "grab" the upward curve of the rear wing. Contributing to the feeling of length are the side grilles on the bonnet with accents that also curve in a line which mimics and strengthens the curve of the sweep-spear.

The long rear deck carries a slim luggage rack on top of the exposed spare wheel with a fitted outside piece of travel luggage, fixed with leather straps – a truly continental expression of a car meant for long-distance travel. The wooden dash is peopled with a full set of white-faced watch-like instruments, while the sumptuous dark blue leather upholstery and carpets lend an air of élan and elegant good taste. To crown all this, here is an extremely rare motor car that still presents from bumper to bumper as a fresh restoration in absolutely stunning condition. Even in a gathering of many great and imposing cars, such as the other magnificent machines in the Frederiksen collection, Maybach DS-8 Chassis 1435 is the instant centre of attention, because of its sheer size, deep and enduring beauty and overwhelming presence. The opportunity to purchase this crown jewel of pre-war German automobile manufacture is singular, important and simply not to be missed.


Med en længde på mere en 5,5 meter er denne Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin blandt de største og mest imposante biler der nogen sinde er bygget i Tyskland. Chassiset var oprindeligt udstyret med et overdådigt syvpersoners cabriolet-limousine karosseri af Hermann Spohn, som kun lå 20 km fra Maybach fabrikken. Bilen blev skænket til Hans Højhed, Maharajahen af Patiala som en gave fra den tyske Reichsmacht på vegne af Adolf Hitler i forventning om neutralitet eller i det mindste velvilje fra Maharajaens side overfor den tyske sag. Udover forlygter, tågelygter og positionslys var bilen udstyret med to kraftige lygter monteret foran kølergitteret: den øverste eller den nederste – eller begge to – blev tændt for at markere, om det enten var Maharajahen eller Maharanien alene, eller begge to som blev transporteret.

Bilen blev solgt på auktion i Schweiz i 1997 som en del af Allerton Castle Motor Collection. Omkring år 2001 til 2002 tilhørte den Dr. Fassbender, som er velkendt i tyske Maybach kredse. Han havde ikke brug for det enorme syvpersoners cabriolet karosseri, eftersom han foretrak at køre alene eller sammen med hustruen. Derfor fik han konstrueret det nuværende topersoners cabriolet karosseri efter et originalt Spohn design fra perioden, som aldrig blev bygget.

Det tog tre og et halvt år at skabe det nye karosseri, som blev udført af Reifen-Wagner i Landshut, Tyskland. Det originale statscabriolet karosseri er bevaret og blev solgt i 2012 til Dr. Hofmann, som ejer Museum Für Historische Maybach Fahrzeuge i Neumarkt.

Denne Maybach topersoners cabriolet har sensationelle proportioner. Muligheden for at købe denne kronjuvel i tysk bilproduktion før anden verdenskrig er ganske enkelt enestående.

EU Taxes paid
With Danish Registreringsattest
Registered by engine number

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  • 24 September 2015, 09:00 - 18:00 CEST
  • 25 September 2015, 09:00 - 18:00 CEST
  • 26 September 2015, 09:00 - 14:00 CEST

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