Karl was born in 1879 and followed in his father's footsteps since he was a child, growing up around what were the first modern cars, thus learning as much as he could about the construction of an engine with internal combustion. Following a tumultuous relationship with Gottlieb Daimler and eventually with his firm, DMG (Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft), Wilhelm Maybach wanted to start his own business.
After Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin's Daimler-powered LZ4 airship had engine problems and was destroyed in a storm, Wilhelm took the opportunity to jump start his son's career. He wrote a letter to the Count, informing him of a new improved engine design which was created by Karl Maybach.
Since von Zeppelin had already heard of Maybach's mechanical skills he thought nothing less of his son, so in 1909 he opened the Luftfahrzeug Motorenbau GmbH airship engine factory together with the two Maybachs.
In 1912, the company moved to Friedrichshafen from the original location in Bissingen, also changing its name to Motorenbau Friedrichshafen. In the same year, the Maybachs bought a 40% share in the company, and Wilhelm made his son the technical director, thereby paving the road for the second stage in the Maybach legacy.
Just before the end of the First World War, on the 6th of May 1918, the company's name was again changed, only this time it included the two engineers' names, Maybach Motorenbau GmbH.
Even though the Maybach name is nowadays known for high tech luxury cars, Karl didn't originally planned to become an automobile maker. Because after the end of the World War I all German companies were prohibited from manufacturing aircraft engines by the Versailles Treaty, the young engineer had to change focus to other areas of work in order to stay in business.
Since the basic plans for an engine were pretty similar, the company switched to the production of train locomotive and naval ships engines. Wanting to expand the business even further and conquer new transportation markets, Karl Maybach also started to search for automobile manufacturers to buy Maybach engines.
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