50 Years of AMG!

This year Mercedes performance brand AMG is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary!

50 years ago former Mercedes engineers Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher founded AMG as a racing engine development company. Their first notable venture with a complete car was turning Mercedes own factory hot rod; the 300SEL 6.3, a W109 saloon car with the 6.3 M100 V8 from the W100 600 Grosser limousine, into a competitive racing machine!

5 300SELs were prepared. 3 racing cars and 2 test cars. They were affectionately known ‘Rot Sau’ or ‘Red Pig’. the engines were stroked and bored to 6.8 litre and produced 420hp, a big figure in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The lovely leather arm chairs were of course ripped out and replaced with a cage and the car was lowered and sat on the 5 spoke magnesium Penta alloys which became a staple of the brand in later years.

Rot Sau
(Image courtesy of autos.ca)

The cars most notable success was finishing 2nd at the 24 hours of Spa in 1971. It put a lot of lighter sports cars to shame including Alfa Romeos and NSUs and other muscle cars including Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros. However, the big displacement engine along with the cars considerable weight meant that it burned through a lot of fuel and tyres throughout the race.

From then until the early 1990s AMG offered a range of performance and cosmetic upgrades for Mercedes own cars. Big displacement naturally aspirated engines with tasteful body modification. My personal favourite car of this era was the W124 ‘Hammer’ which came with the 5.0 or bored 5.4 modified M117 V8 from the W126 S-Class AMG. The car could also come with a 6.0 V12. The Hammer was amongst the first four door saloons to break the 300kph (186mph) barrier. That’s still bl**dy fast today!

1988 Mercedes-Benz 300 E AMG 6.0 Hammer (W124)
(image courtesy of topcarrating.com)

The performance packages of the time however were not supported by Mercedes or their warranty department.  AMG were still a free company and could also turn their hands to cars that were not Mercedes!

GalantDebonaire
Meet the AMG variants of the Mitsubishi Galant and Debonair; two cars that could not be further from the typical AMG made machine if they tried

The Debonair was Mitsubishi’s flag ship luxury saloon car of the 1980s. As a standard car it was quite an impressive machine with it’s pseudo-american boxy styling and typical 1980s futuristic interior. To make more room for the passengers the Debonair was also front wheel drive and powered by a little four cylinder. AMG did not change that, infact, mechanically the AMG variant is identical to the factory car. AMG simply restyled it.

The Galant also retains it’s naturally aspirated 2.0 four cylinder and is driven by the front wheels, the same as the factory Galant. However, internal compression is raised and the car has a modified head including camshafts and valve springs supported by a modified intake and exhaust system. The result of this modification is an engine that pulls harder right across the rev range. Chassis work comprises of a limited slip diff, gas charged dampers and bigger brakes. Styling and interior are very much as expected from AMG of the late 80s/early 90s.

The Debonair was Mitsubishi’s flag ship luxury saloon car of the 1980s. As a standard car it was quite an impressive machine with it’s pseudo-american boxy styling and typical 1980s futuristic interior. To make more room for the passengers the Debonair was also front wheel drive and powered by a little four cylinder. AMG did not change that, infact, mechanically the AMG variant is identical to the factory car. AMG simply restyled it.

Although not as insane as the Mercedes AMG products I think the Mitsubishi machines are worth noting and I would like to think are highly collectable. Actually, I quite like the Debonair!

It wouldn’t be until 1995 that the first with Mercedes factory support would be built. 5200 of the W202 C36 was built to counter BMW’s E36 M3. The W202 is a platform that I have a strong affection for. I own a C240 Sport and the C36 AMG is in essence that on steroids. The hand built 3.6 litre M112 V6 would produce between 276hp and 287hp which would propel it from 0-60 in under 6 seconds and was limited to 155mph.

W202 C36
(image courtesy of Evo.co.uk)

As great as the C36 was AMG wanted more from the W202 platform and in late 1997/early 1998 produced the C43 AMG as Mercedes took a majority share in AMG.

The C43 is notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly it was the first ‘C’ class to be fitted with an MB V8. Secondly it was the first car to be put together entirely in house by AMG. With the C36 and previous cars AMG would take delivery of a standard car and then pull it apart and modify it whereas from the C43 and forward Mercedes would provide a shell and AMG would put the whole car together. I would attribute this change in procedure to Mercedes now owning a majority of AMG. It saves a lot of time just giving AMG the shell to build a car onto rather than building a standard car at the MB factory to give it to AMG to pull apart.

This is how AMG have continued. They have exclusively produced high performance variations of Mercedes Benz cars ranging from the C,E and S class saloons to CL and CLK coupes, M and G class SUVs and even the R63 people carrier.

However in 2014 AMG unveiled a new project that would be their next major progression: The AMG GT.

GTS
(image courtesy of autocar.co.uk)

The AMG GT is the first “mass produced” Mercedes to actually be developed in partnership with AMG. Even in the base machines the running gear is all produced in house by AMG in their typical style of 8 cylinders, front engined, rear wheel drive.

The car is designed to compete with the 911 Porsche so can still be used as a daily driver if need be although a more insane, track focused version of the GT, the GTR is available. They have also produced a convertible which would look right at home in the south of France.

The future holds many great things for AMG I am sure. We all of course know of the 2018 project one; the mid F1 derived super car that for one can’t wait to see!

project 1
(image courtesy of evo.co.uk)

You may have noticed that I haven’t really spoken about F1. AMG have produced a large number of engines over the years for both Mercedes factory teams and for private buyers who wish to run Mercedes engines. That is a different branch of AMG however and I think that it deserves to be covered in a separate post.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed! If you would like to help me make even better quality content on a more regular basis please join my Patreon here: http://www.patreon.com/motorsportformentalhealth

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