I stepped into the Maybach showroom in the swank Mayfair district of London. I tried to ignore the Smart car in the corner as I made eye contact with Simon Inglefield.
"Good morning, your excellency," Inglefield said, demonstrating proper knowledge of embassy protocol.
Today I am the ambassador from an imaginary principality. I wanted to see what it's like to purchase a customized Maybach sedan, so Inglefield and I had agreed on some role-playing.
The "bespoke" car is a key part of Maybach's marketing campaign. To keep inventories at a minimum, Maybach will build a car only if a customer already has ordered it.
Maybach dealers do not expect their customers to consort with an ordinary salesman. Instead, a Maybach salesman is called a "personal liaison manager" - a combination of salesman, concierge and personal advisor.
Inglefield is Maybach's personal representative for the entire United Kingdom. To prepare for that role, he has spent several weeks training in Stuttgart. Among his topics: the proper way to deal with London's diplomatic corps.
Inglefield led me downstairs to a private reception area. I began to relax. Maybach customers love their privacy.
With four leather chairs, a coffee table and a couple of urns, the Maybach showroom had the anonymous look of a corporate waiting room.
There wasn't even a car to look at. The dealership had loaned its sole Maybach to customers for a test drive, Inglefield said. He offered me a cigar and began his presentation.
Using a laptop computer linked to a wall screen, he showed me a three-dimensional view of the Maybach's cabin and exterior. Then he unpacked a case filled with samples of wood, leather, fabric and paint.