From its humble origins to a longstanding partnership producing special edition racing boats, the world of Mercedes-AMG is full of surprises..
53 years ago, three letters came together to become synonymous with driving performance. Those letters are AMG, and the company it represents today is world-renowned for supreme automotive performance, exclusivity and highly dynamic driving pleasure.
Although its strong reputation inspires admiration and desire among many, AMG has a storied history full of surprises, lesser-known innovations and superlative, exclusive sports cars. Let’s dive in…
1. AMG stands for Aufrecht, Melcher, Großaspach, the last names of its founding fathers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, along with Aufrecht’s birthplace of Großaspach. The names behind these three letters were the starting point for the rapid development of AMG from a two-man home- based operation to an unparalleled global performance brand.
The story started in the 1960s: the two engineers, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, were working on the 300 SE four door sedan’s racing engine in the Development Department at Daimler- Benz, until the company discontinued all motorsports activities. Yet, Aufecht and Melcher didn’t stop working. In Aufrecht’s house in Grossaspach, they spent their spare time further honing the performance of their engine. In 1965, Manfred Schiek, a colleague at Daimler, went to the start in the German Touring Car Championship with the 300 SE engine that Aufrecht and Melcher had developed, and won ten times. Schiek’s triumph formed the foundation of Aufrecht and Melcher’s reputation as experts for sustaining and optimizing the performance of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, leading to numerous Motorsports successes and the eventual formal partnership with Mercedes- Benz.
2. The first vehicle associated with AMG and perhaps its most noteworthy, started its life as a subdued four-door sedan! The car that eventually became renowned as the iconic “Red Pig” racing car, which helped build AMG’s credentials as a motorsports powerhouse, started its life as a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 four-door sedan. After Aufrecht and Melcher extensively modified the car, including increasing the engine’s displacement to 6.8 liters, the finished vehicle produced 428 horsepower and 448 lb-ft of torque, a huge improvement from the stock output of 247 hp and 369 lb-ft. The duo also lightened the car extensively; although it was still likely the heaviest car on the grid at its racing debut in the 1971 24 hours of Spa, in which it secured a class win and second place overall result, immediately connecting the letters AMG with motorsports success.
3. The first jointly developed high-performance vehicle from AMG and Mercedes-Benz was the C 36 AMG. The C 36 AMG was also the first AMG product to be officially sold in the United States at Mercedes-Benz dealerships, starting in 1995. By 1998, the partnership between AMG and Mercedes-Benz solidified further when Daimler acquired a majority stake of AMG, setting the stage for a variety of high-performance Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicles.
4. For those that desire the ultimate in AMG performance, few models can match the exclusivity and track-optimized performance of the rare AMG Black Series models. One can think of the Black Series as AMG’s most extroverted, most track-focused and most exclusive, limited production models. Black Series models further enhance AMG’s already exceptional performance models by modifying their powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics to optimize track performance and dynamic capabilities. Thus far, only five special models have worn the distinctive AMG Black Series badge. These include the CLK 63 Black Series, the C 63 Black Series, the SL 65 Black Series, the SLS Black Series, and the SLK 55 Black Series (which was not sold in the USA). However, the exclusive Black Series family will grow soon with the addition of the forthcoming GT Black Series, set to make its debut later this year.
5. The striking SLS AMG was the first-ever car designed and developed from the ground up fully by Mercedes-AMG, followed by the AMG GT 2-door sports car in 2015, and most recently the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe in 2019. The iconic SLS AMG featured vertically opening “gullwing” doors, inspired by the iconic original Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “gullwing” (produced from 1954 – 1957). These unique doors accommodated its lightweight alloy-tube frame, which extended higher than a standard frame, thus leading to these innovative vertically opening doors. In the SLS AMG, these iconic gullwing doors were paired with an unusual safety feature — two explosive capsules, capable of blowing the doors off for quick egress, in the unlikely event that the vehicle were to be flipped on its roof.
6. Since 2007, Mercedes-AMG has shared its passion for performance with the Cigarette Racing Team, resulting in a unique partnership that has produced 12 special edition, high-performance, ultra-exclusive boats. Most recently, this partnership produced the all-new 59-foot Tirranna AMG Edition alongside a one-of-a-kind Mercedes-AMG G 63 Cigarette Edition at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show. The striking design of the 59′ Tirranna AMG Edition as well as the Mercedes-AMG G 63 Cigarette Edition is the result of close collaboration between the Cigarette Racing Team, the Mercedes-AMG design team and Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG.
7. All handcrafted AMG models are built according to the “One man, one engine” philosophy, an ironclad commitment to quality, in which one master craftsman assembles each AMG handcrafted engine from start to finish. This quality construction is honored by each builder via a special plaque, signed by the individual that assembled it and placed on the handcrafted engine upon completion.
8. Today, Mercedes-AMG is headquartered in Affalterbach, Germany, a small town northeast of Stuttgart in the state of Baden-Wüttemberg. Affalterbach is home to the management, administration, sales, development and design teams of AMG, as well as the building of AMG hand- crafted engines. Mercedes-AMG now employs approximately 1,800 people—quite the contrast from its humble beginnings as a two-man operation at Hans Werner Aufrecht’s house in Großaspach!
9. Mercedes-AMG has a history of technology and performance related innovations, many of which are evident in our latest vehicles. For example, the next time you drive a Mercedes-AMG, take special note of the AMG Dynamic Select toggle on the center console, as well as the optionally available AMG Drive Unit steering wheel controls, if equipped. These controls unlock a plethora of performance potential and individualization possibilities, all available from the comfort of your sports seat via a toggle on the console, or switches on the AMG steering wheel.
From “Comfort” to “Sport”, “Sport +”, “RACE” and “Individual”, the driver is able to influence the performance characteristics of their AMG with up to five distinct driving modes. Recently, some of our latest AMG models also offer the new AMG Drive Unit controls, which add a new set of configurable controls on the lower part of the steering wheel. A round control knob on the lower right side of the steering wheel can easily change the driving modes without removing your hands from the steering wheel, enabling the driver to focus on their performance. The lower-left steering wheel buttons also offer a variety of quick-access customizations, including functions such as the level of traction control as well as the AMG Performance Exhaust setting, easily accessible via these new advanced steering wheel mounted controls.
10. The Mercedes-AMG ONE hypercar is set to become the most powerful AMG vehicle ever produced— capable of producing more than 1,000 hp and reaching top speeds beyond 217 mph. For the first time, this two-seater hypercar will bring the very latest and most efficient, fully-fledged Formula 1 hybrid technology directly from the racetrack to the road, delivering the ultimate in Driving Performance for years to come.