I found this article about the 45th Anniversary of AMG over at the Hemmings Blog… some interesting stuff here. I get the ‘Hemmings
Daily’ e-newsletter sent to my inbox every morning, there is always good stuff in it. Visit the link just below for more and sign up if you’re interested in good vintage and classic car info everyday.
Mercedes Benz AMG Celebrates 45th Anniversary
Written by Terry Shea for Hemmings Daily (July 17th, 2012 at 8:58 am)
Just as BMW’s M division celebrated its 40th anniversary in May, Mercedez-Benz lit a few more candles for its vaunted performance group as AMG marked the 45th anniversary of its founding.
While now a part of Mercedes-Benz as a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, AMG was originally an independent entity, founded in 1967 by two Mercedes engineers, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher. They started their business in an old mill, in Burgstall An Der Murr, about 20 miles northeast of Stuttgart, to make racing engines. The “A” stood for Aufrecht, the “M” for Melcher and the “G” for Grossaspach, the nearby birthplace of Aufrecht. Although officially a separate entity from the factory until 1990, the firm enjoyed a close relationship with the automaker from the start.
When Mercedes came out with the 250hp 300SEL 6.3 super sedan, AMG built versions making 280, 300 and even 320hp for customers. When it came time to race, AMG built a 6.8-liter version that produced a healthy 428hp. Painted red and entered in the 1971 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the “Red Pig” won its class and finished an impressive second overall, cementing AMG’s reputation of building high-performance cars. Even today, the Red Pig remains one of the company’s most iconic machines.
In the 1970s, AMG started offering components and modifications for street cars, including exclusive alloy wheel designs, suspension upgrades and, of course, higher performance engines. Busting at the seams of the old mill with 40 employees, AMG moved to nearby Affalterbach in 1976 and began offering body components. Blacked-out chrome trim and five-spoke wheels in body color became signature items for AMG cars and, along with the body kits, practically defined the “Euro” look as it became known in the United States.
In the 1980s, as over-the-top luxury became as important as over-the-top performance, AMG kept pace on both fronts, but in the mechanical department, Melcher and his fellow engineers developed four-valve cylinder heads for the Mercedes-Benz aluminum V-8s, giving them 340hp from the 5.0-liter V-8 at a time when only the most exotic cars made more power, let alone luxury coupes and sedans.
During this time, perhaps their most famous creation was the 5.6-liter, 32-valve V-8-powered E-class sedan from the late 1980s, affectionately known as The Hammer. Its 360hp engine made it capable of 300 KmPH, or 186 MPH, by far the fastest sedan of its day. The final iteration of The Hammer, with a 6.0-liter V-8, was good for 385hp.
In 1988, Mercedes-Benz contracted AMG to run their DTM touring car program and AMG rewarded that contract with several titles claimed with the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution model. AMG’s affiliation with Mercedes-Benz helped turn the Stuttgart manufacturer into a touring car juggernaut from the late 1980s through today. In 1998, AMG developed a complete, purpose-built race car (which spawned a handful of homologated models), called the CLK-GTR. Featuring a 612hp, mid-engined, V-12 monster engine, it secured the FIA GT title for the two companies. When the DTM was revived in 2000, AMG returned, again piling up titles for the company.
After more than two decades with an arm’s length understanding, finally, in 1990, Mercedes-Benz and AMG signed an agreement of cooperation, the first joint product of which was the 1993 C36, a 276hp C-class sedan powered by an inline six-cylinder engine, though the agreement also opened up the entire AMG parts catalog to Mercedes-Benz dealers. The C36 was sold in the United States from 1995 through 1997. AMG followed that car up with the 347hp E50 in 1996 and essentially opened the floodgates for virtually every Mercedes-Benz model to have a performance version engineered by the Affalterbach crew.
Since the late 1990s, SUVs and minivans (the R63) have been added to the AMG fray that already included sedans, coupes, roadsters and wagons. AMG engines in the past two decades have included four-cylinder, inline sixes, V-6s, V-8s and V-12s, all with multivalve heads, some normally aspirated, others supercharged and turbocharged, but all with a bottom line of more power. The craziest, over-the-top models, such as the SL65, feature a 612hp, 738-lbs.ft, twin-turbocharged V-12, for which you will pay more than $200,000 to get your hands on, but you will drive away knowing you are in one of the hardest-accelerating roadsters ever made.
AMG makes a big deal – and rightly so – of each engine being hand-assembled by a single, highly trained technician, who then leaves a signature plate atop the completed powerplant before it leaves the factory. They call it “One Man, One Engine” and it delivers the personal touch that the mass production of mainline Mercedes-Benz cars simply can’t offer.
Mercedes-Benz upped the ante in 1999 when they purchased 51 percent of AMG from Aufrecht and then completed the purchase by buying the remaining shares in 2007, renaming the entity Mercedes-AMG, but we all mostly know it by those three letters tacked onto the back of their cars signifying a very fast version of what is already likely a competent and fairly quick car.
In 2009, Mercedes-AMG introduced its first complete car, the SLS AMG, a gull-winged coupe that harks back to the original 300 SL Gullwing from the 1950s, with modern performance, safety, luxury and technology. As modern collectibles go, the SLS AMG is about as blue chip as it gets. (Get your own here at Sears Imports… lightly used low mile, highly optioned 2011 SLS AMG Gullwing Coupe in stock now…!)
For a more detailed and interactive history of AMG, visit Mercedes-AMG.com