Limo drifts into fashion

In their new music video Otis, rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z are nearly upstaged by a radically chopped Maybach limousine that burns rubber, does four-wheel drifts through corners and spits fire.

Typically the idea of taking cutting torches grinding discs and reciprocating saws to a car that costs close to $400,000 would be sacrilege. But for the Maybach, which has never lived up to the hype surrounding its launch for the 2004 model year, the high-profile exposure could only help.

Indeed, the back-alley car customisers in the video add a dash of excitement to the Maybach’s staid looks. By the time their work is done the car looks a bit like and open-air version of the million-dollar Bugatti Veyron super sports car.

When the Maybach rolled out during the last economic bubble it had competition from the Rolls Royce Phantom, a similarly over-the-top luxury car crafted for top-tier buyers. The cars entered the market at roughly the same time, setting the stage for an ultra-luxury showdown between Maybach maker Mercedes Benz and Rolls-Royce parent BMW AG.

But the Rolls was more imposing and impressive from the beginning, turning heads and seeming to ooze money wherever it went. Meanwhile the Maybach looked too much like a larger though less-distinctive Mercedes S-Class sedan.

It isn’t clear how deeply Mercedes was involved in the video’s production, but company spokesmen suggested the video’s producers worked with officials in the company’s German headquarters. West and Jay-Z could not be reached for comment.

The video includes a statement that the car will be auctioned and the proceeds “will be donated towards the East African drought disaster.” It will be interesting to see whether the car’s modifications and new-found hip-hop notoriety will add to its value.

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