The Maybach family around 1895.
The Maybach family around 1895. From left to right: Wilhelm and Bertha Maybach with daughter Emma; their sons Karl and Adolf.

Our History

Inspired by the achievements of Wilhelm and Karl Maybach, the Foundation’s work honors and builds forward the many inspirations of their combined achievements. Wilhelm Maybach, one of five children, who tragically lost his parents at age ten, was raised at the Bruderhaus, a progressive orphanage, run by Gustav Werner, in Germany. There his math and drawing skills caught the eye of his teachers and in 1861 he began an apprenticeship as technical draftsman at the Maschinenfabrik of the Bruderhaus.

In 1865 Gottlieb Daimler became technical director of the Maschinenfabrik and mentored Wilhelm who later became his business partner.

With Daimler’s support, Maybach developed a revolutionary internal combustion engine that began an engineering revolution and the foundation for the modern automotive era.

Through the creation of an alternative to the previously ubiquitous steam-powered locomotive, the internal combustion engine fundamentally changed the world of transportation.

In response to the Zeppelin accident in Echterdingen in 1908 Wilhelm Maybach offers Count Zeppelin to help with the design of dependable aeronautical engines. Count Zeppelin did not hesitate to accept Maybach’s offer. Consequently the Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau-GmbH (literally “Airship Engine Building Company”) got established in Bissingen where Maybach’s son Karl became technical director. In 1912 the company relocated to Friedrichshafen and was referred to as Motorenbau GmbH (engine construction company). In 1918, it was renamed to Maybach-Motorenbau-GmbH.

The father-son duo designed and produced cutting-edge engines for train, boat, cars and airplane companies. Their main objective has always been the highest possible quality.

Renamed MTU in 1969, Irmgard Schmid-Maybach, daughter of Karl, continued the family’s commitment and was an elected member of the supervisory board where she represented her family from 1984 to 2005. In 2007, she was elected as an honorary lifetime member by the MTU Supervisory Board.

The Maybach family remains committed to enhancing, celebrating and sharing their heritage and tradition of innovation, through its museum and archive project, mobile educational outreach and design excellence for the next generation of technical innovators.

Wilhelm Maybach's travel journal from the 1876 World's Fair.
Wilhelm Maybach's travel journal from the 1876 World's Fair exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. IMAGE CREDIT: Maybach Foundation
Portrait of Wilhelm Maybach.
Portrait of Wilhelm Maybach.
Portrait of Karl Maybach.
Portrait of Karl Maybach.
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