AMG came a long way from building racecar engines in the sixties to making our Editor-in-Chief write about their newest child with the caps lock on. Their cars are just that good.
What started out as two German guys in a garage creating faster Mercedeses is now a department with more than a thousand employees within Daimler AG, working on its own models that are the crown jewels of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Here are some of the most important cars in the history of AMG.
In the mid-sixties, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher were working at the Daimler-Benz Development department on the 300 SE racing engine. Unfortunately, Mercedes pulled out from motorsport soon after they started, so they had to continue at Aufrecht's garage in Grossaspach (that is where the "G" comes from). A colleague at Daimler, Manfred Schiek entered the German Touring Car Championship using their engine, which resulted in ten wins. In 1966, Aufrecht left Mercedes and asked Melcher to start their own engineering business. Five years later, they won their class at the 24 Hours of Spa with the AMG Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 scoring a second place overall.
German tuning in the eighties resulted in some serious misunderstandings, but the AMG S-Class stands out of the crowd with its badass attitude. While AMG tuned the 5.6-litre V8, replaced the exhaust system, and modified the suspension and brakes for better handling, the main focus was still on the "image" at the time. Therefore numerous body kits, allow wheels, trim levels and special paint themes were available, so that anybody could find something between the mafia and the Miami Vice look. While making tons of money on parts, AMG also became an engine manufacturer when Melcher developed a completely independent cylinder head with four valves per cylinder.
While helping the richest showing off their wealth, AMG has also become the official racing team representing Mercedes-Benz at the German Touring Car Championship against the best of BMW and Ford. In 1984, the rebuilt Nurburgring celebrated with an opening race. Identical cars lined up with F1 pilots at the wheels, but in the end, no one could beat a relatively unknown Brazilian called Ayrton Senna. Between 1988 and 1993, the AMG went on winning fifty DTM races with the 190, while also having a go against the BMW M3 road cars with the Cosworth-engined Mercedeses.
Chris Harris once again is a lucky bastard for taking the Hammer for a ride. The infamous übersedan was born in 1986, when AMG dropped its new 5.0-litre V8 in the front of a W124 E-class. The engine produced 360 horsepower, and while it was mounted to a rather slow automatic gearbox, the Hammer was still the king of the Autobahn with no other passenger sedan coming even close at the time. Also, If you think the new M3 DTM Special was black, think again!
It's funny, I know. But as I already mentioned, AMG made a lot of money with all that customization, and while the Mitsubishi Debonair V 3000 Royal AMG was anything but powerful, the AMG Galant was a much more promising lovechild. Released in Japan in October 1989, the Galant's 2.0-liter engine got new pistons, camshafts, titanium valve springs, dual-stage intake manifold and revised engine management. With the high-flow exhaust system, the front tyres were attacked by 170 hp. Unfortunately instead of an LSD, customers could only go for a timber trim package with a Nardi steering wheel. ABS was optional too.
1990 was an important year for the AMG family as the company signed a cooperation agreement with Daimler-Benz AG. This meant that all the AMG parts could be sold and maintained at the worldwide network of company owned Mercedes-Benz dealerships. This boosted the sales so much that by the end of the year, AMG had 400 employees, and a brand new factory. The first car leaving the premises was the C 36 AMG with a 3.6-litre inline six-cylinder (with four valves per cylinder) producing 280 horsepower.
It was an SL with a V12 producing 525 bhp. Mercedes-Benz offered it through AMG in 1995, then stopped for a while, only to sell it again from 1998. For the second run, the 7.3-litre engine was updated, and it was such a hit that Horacio Pagani put it straight into his quickly developing Zonda supercar. The SL73 AMG remained such an expensive oddball that only 85 were sold. Your Crazy Euro Car Boy had this to say about it.
In order for the CLK GTR GT1 to go racing in Le Mans in 1997, Mercedes had to build 25 road cars for the FIA homologization. By this time, DaimlerChrysler acquired 51 percent of AMG shares, and AMG was renamed to Mercedes-AMG GmbH. The insane special editions (20 coupes and 6 roadsters) were built from late 1998 'till the summer of 1999, a year when the GT1 category was cancelled anyway due to the lack of competitors. All of the cars were left-hand drive, except for the one built for the Sultan of Brunei. We all know now that he didn't deserve the special treatment...
BMW had the ultimate hooning machine with the M3, Audi was making grippy rockets like the RS4, so it was clear that Mercedes-Benz also needed to shake up its C-Class a bit. They managed to do that with the 6.2-litre V8 hand built by AMG. That was good for 451 hp in C-Class tune, with the unfortunate lack of a manual transmission. On the other hand, it was availably with an estate body. The children in the back of these have learned the expression 'muscle car' pretty quickly. The future may hold some four-wheel burnouts instead of the usual ones.
Jeremy Clarkson thinks it has stupid doors, James May thinks it is stupid all together, while we think it sounds like a thunderstorm, which can only mean that it is a great machine. Developed by AMG to be the successor of the SLR McLaren-Mercedes, this gullwinged supercar is certainly a unique player on the field. A bit more on the GT side, it is still very fast thanks to the same V8 like in the C63, but tuned to a much more friendly 526 hp in normal form. Even better, you can paint your girl the same colour...
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