40 years of AMG: from two-man company to world enterprise
About 750 employees, a broad product range of 18 different AMG vehicles, customers around the world and a high degree of brand awareness - the Mercedes-AMG GmbH has evolved from a motorsport and tuning specialist into a provider of exclusive high-performance cars.
AMG was founded as a racing engine forge in 1967 under the name AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (AMG Engine Production and Development, Ltd.), by former Mercedes engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in Burgstall an der Murr, near Stuttgart. The letters "AMG" stand for Aufrecht, Melcher and Großaspach, Aufrecht's birthplace (but at no time an AMG location). In 1976 most of AMG moved to Affalterbach, with the racing engine development remaining at the old location in Burgstall. At this time Erhard Melcher ceased to be a partner, but continued to be an employee at the Burgstall location.
In 1990, with AMG having become a high-profile purveyor of modified Mercedes cars, Daimler-Benz AG and AMG signed a contract of cooperation, allowing AMG to leverage Daimler-Benz's extensive dealer network and leading to commonly developed vehicles (the first one being the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG, in 1993). On 1 January 1999 DaimlerChrysler, as it was called between 1998 and 2007, acquired 51 percent of AMG shares, and AMG was renamed to Mercedes-AMG GmbH. Racing engine development was divested and continues to exist in Burgstall under the name HWA (Aufrecht's initals). On 1 January 2005 Aufrecht sold his remaining shares to DaimlerChrysler, and since then it has been a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Development of the product range
AMG started off by designing and testing racing engines. They expanded their business into building bespoke road cars, based upon standard Mercedes cars.
AMG Penta 5 Spoke 16x8 type 1 wheel, the first light aluminum alloy wheel marketed by AMG. Designed by H.W. Aufrecht in 1979 and manufactured by ATS.
Mainly for the modern Mercedes-Benz W107, Mercedes-Benz W126 and Mercedes-Benz W201 models, AMG was producing a range of unofficial upgrade and accessories packages, although there were no official tie-ups until the mid 1980s, when AMG started to supply the company with aftermarket alloy wheels and automotive styling products.
Typical AMG cosmetic and performance enhancements from 1979 to 1985, which could all be custom ordered by the buyer, included 15" or 16" ATS for AMG 5 spoked Penta wheels, Recaro seats, painting of all external chrome parts to the car's body color or to black, an AMG steering wheel with a smaller diameter than the one that came standard with the car, lowered and stiffened suspension, aerodynamic AMG front air dam and spoiler kit, modified cams, a custom exhaust to increase the base horsepower, and in rare cases a 5 speed manual transmission.
The release of the AMG Hammer sedan in 1986, based on the Mercedes-Benz W124, took AMG's performance modifications for a fast compact sedan to a new level. AMG made the world's fastest passenger sedan at the time, nicknamed the Hammer, by tuning a Mercedes 5.6-liter V8 to 360 hp, and squeezing that motor into Mercedes' midsized 300-series sedan. It was very aggressive for the era with a modified Mercedes-Benz 5.6 liter engine, 32-valve cylinder heads and twin camshafts, good for 360 bhp DIN. It was said to be faster than the Lamborghini Countach from 60 to 120 mph. Later models were even more powerful and introduced the 17" AMG Aero 1 Hammer wheels.
To take advantage of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) race successes, official AMG-Mercedes models were developed in the 1990s. Since the Mercedes-Benz takeover, AMG sales have risen over 500%.
In addition, AMG provides safety cars for the FIA Formula One World Championship.
A recent development, the AMG performance Studio located in Affalterbach, caters for bespoke modifications on all AMG and standard Mercedes-Benz models.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, AMG entered the big Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 V8 saloon, affectionately named the "Red Sow", in the 1971 Spa 24 Hours, and the European Touring Car Championship. AMG and Mercedes worked together on Mercedes-Benz W201 cars for the 1988 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM, German Touring Car Championship). AMG was made the official partner.
When DaimlerChrysler acquired a majority share of AMG in 1999, the motor racing department was divested into HWA GmbH. Their first car was the ill-fated Mercedes-Benz CLR. Since 2000, HWA builds and runs the cars for Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), as well as the M271 engine tuned for use in Formula 3.
Six successive lightly modified Mercedes-Benz AMG models (including, most recently, an SL 63 AMG) have acted as the official Safety Cars of the F1 racing series.
Through the early 2000s, AMG focused on supercharged engines (with the exception of the V12 used in the Pagani Zonda), but the company officially abandoned this technology in 2006, with the introduction of the M156 V8. On 16 January 2006, Mercedes-AMG Chairman Volker Mornhinweg told AutoWeek that the company would use turbocharging for higher output rather than supercharging.
AMG models are typically the most expensive of each nameplate. However, there are exceptions, notably the V12 S600 which was pricier than the S55 AMG and S63 AMG, the latter two powered by V8 engines.
In 2010 the SLS AMG was released. It was the first car that has been exclusively engineered by AMG. According to AMG customs, the engines are assembled manually in Affalterbach (“One Man, One Engine”). The mounting of the vehicle takes place at the Mercedes-Benz site in Sindelfingen.
Released in summer 2010, the newly developed AMG 5.5 litre v8 twin-turbo engine with a peak performance of up to 420 kw (571 hp) and a torque of up to 900 newton meter, marked a further chapter in the “AMG Performance 2015” strategy . The new S 63 AMG, in which the v8 twin-turbo has been mounted for the first time, consumes only 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Not least a contribution of the unique AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports drive. The S 63 Showcar, that resembles the spectacular 300 SEL 6.8 AMG from 1971, serves as reminiscence to the impressive history of high-performance AMG v8 engines.