Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, Mercedes-AMG celebrates 50 years of motoring success.
At an old mill in a quiet German town, two former Mercedes-Benz engineers set up their first workshop, determined to independently develop a stupendous engine for the three-point-star’s flagship model that would thrust the large luxury car into an unexpected lime-light – that of motorsport success.
The year was 1967, and just four years later, Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher achieved their objective. Their AMG 300 SEL 6.8, an underdog up against much lighter, purpose-built race cars, claimed the crown in its class and second place overall in the gruelling 24-hour competition at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Named after the initials of its founders’ last names and Aufrecht’s birth town, Grossaspach, AMG has enjoyed exceptional success over the past half a century. Through-out its early history, it developed cylinder heads that were adopted by Mercedes-Benz in its main line cars; constructed touring cars for Mercedes-Benz that were deployed in the German DTM championships; and even col-laborated with Mercedes-Benz in 1993 to build and market the C 36 AMG sports sedan.
Daimler AG, the parent group of Mercedes- Benz, soon recognised the benefit of a closer working relationship with AMG, first taking majority ownership in 1999, before buying the rest of the shares in 2005. The financial backing bore fruit: Last year, Mercedes-AMG delivered a record 100,000 vehicles, an astounding 40 per cent growth over 2015.
And hence, from that two-man outfit, the company that specialised in enhancing the performance of stock Mercedes-Benz cars now employs around 1,500 employees and has additionally its own range of AMG GT models developed in-house.
STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
Despite the massive growth, the firm – whose brand promise of “Driving Performance” is based on cutting-edge technology and a passion for emotively appealing products – remains a blue-blooded engineering firm through and through. It still insists on the old school “one-man, one-engine” philosophy, which means every single engine that passes through its manufacturing plant is hand-crafted by one master builder, whose signature is proudly engraved on the motor’s cover.
Naturally arising from such pedigree, Mercedes-AMG continues to reign in the motorsport scene. Since 2012, its nameplate has graced the victorious Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. Last year, it won the Constructors’ Championship for the third consecutive season – proof that its engineering prowess is second to none.
Its GT3 racing car, competed in by both factory and customer teams, has been a runaway success too. In the 2016 season alone, it has won 18 overall victories and 32 other podium finishes in such renowned championships as the ADAC 24-hour qualification race and the Nurburgring 24-hour race.
The know-how generated from racing experience trickles down to the 50-over offerings from Mercedes-AMG that cover all segments, from the compact four-cylinder A 45 hatchback to the luxurious 12-cylinder S 65 sedan. And every imaginable coupe, cabriolet, estate and sport utility vehicle in between.
The eight-cylinder 63 series models constitute the core product line, while the new sixcylinder 43 series models introduced just two years ago are wildly popular with customers looking for a more accessible, no-compromise entry point into Mercedes-AMG ownership.
On top of these Mercedes-Benz-based cars, the Aff alterbach-based company has the capability to develop its own models from scratch.
As early on as 2009, it created the MercedesBenz SLS AMG – now a modern classic – followed in 2014 by its second sports car, the Mercedes-AMG GT.
The front mid-engine coupe with aluminium lightweight construction was quickly joined by an open-top roadster version, and both body styles are now offered in various stages of tune from the base 476hp GT model to the top-oftherange 585hp GT R variant. All employ AMG’s latest 4-litre biturbo V8 powerplant, and can accelerate to 100 kmh from standstill in four seconds or less – staggering figures by any measure.
The entire GT family range now comprises six models: The Mercedes-AMG GT, GT Roadster, GT S, GT C, GT C Roadster and GT R, and feature race-proven technologies such as the AMG sports suspension, which borrows the idea of fashioning wishbones, steering knuckles and hub carriers on the axles out of forged aluminium to reduce unsprung masses for unparalleled driving dynamics and performance.
On the cards: a technological tour de force in the form of a street-legal hypercar. Codenamed “Project One”, the yet-to-be-unveiled model promises Formula 1 cred on the road, the first ever commercially available vehicle to feature an F1 hybrid power train that is certified drivable on public streets.
Apart from the hardware, the three-lettered brand is making waves in customer service as well. It has over 400 AMG Performance Centres in 40 countries to immerse customers and fans in the marque’s experience. On the digital front, it has since 2006 been engaging clients at a unique online AMG Private Lounge, where 48,000-odd members trade insider knowledge. Staff from Aff alterbach are also on hand to answer queries, offer invitations to exclusive events or partake in the friendly exchange of feedback.
Indeed, while Mercedes-AMG has grown into a volume carmaker in its own right, it retains the approachable face of a much-smaller marque – just like how Aufrecht and Melcher would have wanted it back in the 1960s.