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A radical revolution is raging in the world of ultra-luxury automobiles, and the car that winds up as king of the hill may well be the new set of wheels that takes its inspiration from the custom vehicles of the past.

The new Maybach marque from DaimlerChrysler is the rebirth of one of Europe's most exclusive brands. Buyers to whom money was no object used to have surprisingly few choices -- Ferrari and Lamborghini for performance or Bentley and Rolls-Royce for stateliness. Maybach creates the bespoke buyer's dream, positioned a giant leap above the company's already elite Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

While every Maybach will be lavishly equipped to start with, buyers will be able to "individualize" their vehicles with options such as a high-tech office suite and platinum-plated switches. Prefer to match the paint to your wife's lipstick? No problem. Each car is built to order, which means delivery times of three months or more. But then the preferred Maybach customer likely has a fleet of vehicles in the garage -- not an inconvenience.

Word is that enthusiastic buyers are ordering both Maybach models even before they've been released, despite stratospheric prices. For the chauffeured set, the Maybach 62 gives new meaning to the term "land yacht." Its name alludes to the sedan's metric length (6.2 meters). That translates into just over 20 feet, one of the longest personal passenger vehicles ever built. The rear cabin is roomier than some New York apartments, with space for two seats that look as if they came out of business class. You'll recline in unfettered comfort, perhaps with a DVD playing on the twin LCD monitors. The panoramic sunroof goes opaque or bathes the cabin in a soft, warm glow at the touch of a button.

The Maybach 57 is the "driver's car," with a V-12 producing 550 horsepower and mountains of torque. Even at 5,852 pounds, it will launch from 0 to 60 in a tire-spinning 5.2 seconds. The Maybach 62 will hit the mark in 5.4 seconds. Both cars claim top speeds approaching 200 mph.

At press time, Maybach hadn't finalized prices, but expect to pay around $310,000 for the "base" Maybach 57 and $50,000 more for the Maybach 62.

Visit www.maybachusa.com or call 866-FOR-MAYBACH.

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