Wheels of gold for the super rich
17 February 2005 , STUTTGART - Owning a luxury Maybach, Rolls Royce or Bentley worth in excess of EUR 200,000 is not enough for some of the super rich. Manufacturers are bowing to even the most extravagant of wishes. The Maybach, which sells for between EUR 350,000 and 400,000 was built with customers able to choose from two million extras. "But even then we have customers with extra wishes," says press spokesman Stefan Diehl. Customers can visit the special show room in a Centre of Excellence in Sindelfin
17 February 2005
STUTTGART - Owning a luxury Maybach, Rolls Royce or Bentley worth in excess of EUR 200,000 is not enough for some of the super rich. Manufacturers are bowing to even the most extravagant of wishes.
The Maybach, which sells for between EUR 350,000 and 400,000 was built with customers able to choose from two million extras. "But even then we have customers with extra wishes," says press spokesman Stefan Diehl.
Customers can visit the special show room in a Centre of Excellence in Sindelfingen to choose from a huge variety of woods, leather upholstery and exterior colours. In a short space of time the customer sees his ideal car as a virtual 1:1 visual model on a massive computer screen.
On a Maybach 57 all the chrome parts are being sprayed with a paper-thin layer of 24-carat gold. The wheel rims are sprayed with a special gold paint and even the boot's interior shimmers in gold.
For customers in the Middle East an electronic compass is fitted to the central console, always pointing in the direction of Mecca. For those who place emphasis on family emblems and symbols these too can be worked into the wood and leather.
Customers at the Volkswagen subsidiary Bentley receive similar attention and are invited to the factory in Crewe, England. Details of the car are then discussed with a customer relations officer and a designer.
Some 130 specialists are on standby for individual choices concerning the bodywork, leather and wood interior. Press spokesman Reiko Kaeske mentions one Asian customer who had a microwave oven installed in his Bentley to enjoy his favourite noodles.
Bentleys for the Asian market are often fitted with a Karaoke system or large flatscreens for movies on the road.
"One customer and passionate visitor to the horse races wanted a large sunroof with a height-adjustable back seat so that he could watch the finish from his vehicle," Kaeske says. Minibars in the central console are almost standard items.
Even sports cars like Porsche which were designed for puristic customers have an extra Porsche Exclusive department. About 50 cars a year are worked on for several months "like a 959 that was painted in gold for an Arab customer", said Marcel Haensch from Porsche.
But when it comes to individualism, the wish list no longer stops at the choice of colours and other extras. Some manufacturers are even prepared to change the body shape. The tyre manufacturer Fulda has asked for the building of a Maybach which looks like a pre-war test vehicle. It will be presented in May this year with a new tyre series.
Money is never openly spoken about. Most of the customers have more than enough of it. However, most of the press spokesmen confirm that the extras are in many cases worth double the basic price of the vehicle.
Nevertheless even for the normal luxury BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Porsche there are plenty of opportunities to create an individual vehicle.
Every buyer of a new BMW three, five or seven series gets a fat catalogue from the sports car subsidiary "M", offering a wide choice of extras, according to press spokesman Friedbert Holz.
Some of the buyers want a special DVD monitor or computer and fax fitted in the console. Others simply want their own colour or leather interior. These extras easily add at least 10 per cent to the new vehicle price.
"Of the 20,000 customers that we served in 2004, 19,500 found something for themselves in the catalogue. Some 500 suggested their own materials, woods or colours," Holz said.
Most wishes can be met "but only if they do not affect the safety and quality of the vehicle", he pointed out.
Subject: German news