From its beginnings 38 years ago as an independent
racing and tuning firm for Mercedes cars, Mercedes-AMG has grown into a supplier
of exclusive high-performance cars, now with some 600 employees, an extensive
model range and customers around the world.
Now an integral part of the Mercedes-Benz family, Mercedes-AMG has become
synonymous with factory-developed high-performance vehicles. Far more than a
tuner or marketing division, Mercedes-AMG is a self-contained entity responsible
for all aspects of its vehicles, from development and testing to marketing. Some
aspects of vehicle production are shared with Mercedes-Benz facilities.
Hans-Werner Aufrecht (A) and his partner Erhard Melcher (M) founded AMG in 1967,
and Aufrecht’s birthplace of Grossaspach (G) supplied the third letter in the
company name. Both had been employees of Mercedes-Benz and officially described
themselves as “engineering, design and testing specialists in the development of
racing engines.” The fledgling firm initially based itself in an old mill in
Burgstall (near Affalterbach).
First Racing Victory in 1971
In its early years, AMG concentrated on building racing cars based on the
Mercedes-Benz 300 SE sedan and competing in European touring car races. The
first racing success came in 1971, when a Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3, modified by AMG
with a 6.9-liter engine, took a surprise class victory in the 24-hour race at
Spa in Belgium, finishing in second place overall. The 1971 success proved to be
the springboard for an enviable record on the track that has continued to this
day and has formed a cornerstone of the AMG philosophy (see AMG racing history
at end of this section).
International Clientele Fuels Growth
AMG’s success spread well beyond international motorsports. In the 1970s, the
company began to offer high-performance tuning and individualization for
Mercedes customers in Europe and other markets. The transfer of technology from
motorsports into production cars already formed part of the company’s
The company built its exclusive reputation by developing impressive technology
and first-class quality on the back of its involvement in racing. AMG soon
became the premiere Mercedes-Benz “tuner” in the world. Through the 1970s and
1980s, AMG developed a number of special high-performance models based on
production Mercedes sedans and coupes. These vehicles incorporated high-power
modified Mercedes engines and race-proven modifications to the chassis and
brakes, AMG light-alloy wheels and wider tires, resulting in fully developed,
well-rounded high performance packages.
Strong demand for performance Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the late 1970s led to a
steady increase in the number of orders received by AMG. The company outgrew its
facility in Burgstall and moved to Affalterbach in 1978. In 1985, AMG opened its
second factory and hired its 100th employee. AMG was now attracting customers
from all over the world, including building one-of-a-kind vehicles for
international clients. This experience strengthened AMG’s reputation in the
world of high-performance vehicles as builders of top-performance Mercedes-Benz
As an industry pioneer and trendsetter, AMG became committed to achieving and
retaining a position as a world leader in terms of technology, design, and
sales. Though AMG cars did not become available in the U.S. market until 1995
when the C36 AMG debuted in the U.S. market, word of AMG vehicles had already
made its way into the U.S. enthusiast press. Most famous perhaps was “The
Hammer” – a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 300E powered by a 360-hp 5.6-liter V8.
The signing of the cooperation agreement with DaimlerChrysler AG (then
Daimler-Benz AG) in 1990 marked a turning point for AMG. Under the terms of the
agreement, AMG products could be sold at Mercedes-Benz dealers in overseas
markets, significantly improving customer acceptance. Further expansion led to
the opening of a third facility in 1990, and an increase in the workforce to 400
AMG Comes to America
When the C-Class succeeded the 190 series in 1993, AMG unveiled the first
vehicle jointly developed and born out of the agreement – the Mercedes-Benz C36
AMG, backed by a full Mercedes-Benz warranty and service organization. Initial
demand for this 282-horsepower, six-cylinder screamer was limited by production
to just under 1,000 cars over a three-year period.
In the U.S., the C36 AMG was followed in 1998 by the C43 AMG, the first
V8-powered C-Class model. The 306-hp 4.3-liter V8 could rocket the C43 from 0-60
mph in just six seconds. Customers clamored for more AMG models, so
Mercedes-Benz and AMG responded with the E55 AMG, a 349-hp powerhouse that
blended super-car performance with four-door Mercedes comfort. Fueled by this
customer interest, AMG developed an array of top performance Mercedes-Benz
models from the growing palette of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. AMG’s brand success
culminated during 1998 when DaimlerChrysler acquired a majority ownership in the
U.S. customer interest in AMG models increased steadily, with sales of 7,500 AMG
models in 2001. During 2002, the strategy of offering an AMG model as the top
performance Mercedes-Benz in every model line was achieved with the introduction
of the SL55 AMG – the first SL roadster AMG offered in the U.S. The source of
the SL55 AMG’s power, a new supercharged 5.5-liter Kompressor V8 was also
installed in revised versions of the S55 AMG and CL55 AMG launched in late 2002.
For 2004, AMG debuted the new SLK55, C55, and G55 as well as the AMG V12 models,
the SL65 and CL65, the most powerful AMG models to date.
The United States is now the largest market in the world for AMG vehicles, with
an over 40 percent share. The latest generation of AMG models available in the
- C55 AMG sedan with 362-hp 5.5-liter V8
- E55 AMG sedan with 469-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V8
- S55 AMG sedan with 493-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V8
- S65 AMG sedan with 604-hp twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12
- SL55 AMG roadster with 493-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V8
- SL65 AMG roadster with 604-hp twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12
- SLK55 AMG roadster with 355-hp 5.5-liter V8
- CLK55 AMG cabriolet with 362-hp 5.5-liter V8
- CL55 AMG coupe with 493-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V8
- CL65 AMG coupe with 604-hp twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12
- G55 AMG SUV with 469-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V8
- CLS55 AMG coupe with 469-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V8
With such a diverse model offering and the most powerful models in its
history, AMG is poised to deliver Mercedes-Benz high performance and driving
enjoyment to enthusiasts.
On January 1, 1999, H.W. Aufrecht sold a majority shareholding in AMG, and the
company was incorporated into DaimlerChrysler AG (DCAG). This move allowed the
newly founded Mercedes-AMG to benefit to an even greater extent from DCAG’s
resources and global presence. The highly specialized subsidiary has overall
responsibility for the engine, transmission, chassis, brakes, aerodynamics,
interior, design and sales and marketing of AMG-badged cars.
Growth of the Mercedes-AMG product line has been supported by the opening of new
production, development and showroom buildings at its Affalterbach plant. The
engine factory, showroom and two development buildings, built and operational in
2003, have more than doubled the space of the facility from 199,000 to 426,000
square feet. Employment at Mercedes-AMG currently numbers about 600.
One Man, One Engine
The centerpiece of the recent expansion is the new engine factory, which
produces 100 engines a day for the entire range of Mercedes-AMG vehicles. Work
takes place on three floors across a total area of 107,000 square feet, and
about 45 highly qualified master technicians work in the new facility.
Mercedes-AMG follows a philosophy of “one man, one engine.” This means that a
single technician – identified by the signature plate affixed to the engine – is
responsible for the complete assembly of an AMG high-performance engine from
start to finish. After a technician assembles an engine, it is individually
tested and then moved to a storage facility on the upper level. Flexible
manufacturing processes allow the factory to quickly adjust for changes in
demand for the various AMG models. A computerized data management system
continuously optimizes engine inventory.
In addition to engine manufacturing, the new production facility is home to
plant equipment management, quality control, production planning, and ordering
and parts logistics departments.
The 8,000-square-foot AMG showroom in Affalterbach, a striking piece of
steel/glass architecture in its own right, offers ample room both for hosting
worldwide customers and for displaying eight AMG models.
Large-format vehicle images displayed on the front of the building serve a dual
purpose, acting as a dramatic signpost and business card for the new AMG
showroom and also functioning as sun and heat shields for people inside.
AMG Racing Success
- 1980: An AMG Mercedes 450 SLC takes first place in the European Touring
Car Championship Grand Prix race at the Nürburgring.
- 1986: An AMG Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 records two victories in the German
Touring Car Championship (DTM).
- 1988: The AMG Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 takes four wins in the German Touring
Car Championship (DTM); Mercedes-Benz and AMG begin an official partnership in
- 1989: AMG is the most successful team in the DTM, with Klaus Ludwig and
Johnny Cecotto notching up seven race wins at the wheel of the AMG Mercedes
190 E 2.5-16 Evolution I.
- 1990: Premiere of the more powerful 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II.
- 1991: AMG Mercedes finishes at the top of the team standings and Klaus
Ludwig is the most successful driver. Mercedes-Benz takes the manufacturers’
title. The DTM is at the height of its popularity, with the races attracting
an audience of over 153 million.
- 1992: AMG Mercedes again takes the team honors and Mercedes-Benz the
manufacturers’ crown. Klaus Ludwig is the DTM champion driving an AMG Mercedes
190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Ellen Lohr becomes the fist woman to win a round of
the DTM – at the wheel of an AMG Mercedes – while former Formula 1 World
Champion Keke Rosberg also drives for the team.
- 1993: Roland Asch finishes runner-up in the DTM in an AMG Mercedes. This
proves to be the farewell season for the AMG Mercedes 190 E, the winner of 50
- 1994: The new AMG Mercedes C-Class lines up on the starting grid, powered
by a six-cylinder engine. Klaus Ludwig again takes the DTM crown.
- 1995: AMG wins the DTM championship for the third time, as well as the
international ITC series in its debut year. The drivers’ champion on each
occasion is Bernd Schneider.
- 1996: Bernd Schneider drives an AMG Mercedes to second place in the ITC.
- 1997: The new Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, built by AMG in only 128 days, takes
Bernd Schneider to the inaugural FIA GT Championship title.
- 1998: AMG Mercedes dominates the FIA-GT series, with Klaus Ludwig and
Ricardo Zonta winning all 11 races and the drivers’ championship in the CLK-GTR.
AMG-Mercedes cruises to the constructors’ title.
- 2000: In the first year of the new DTM (German Touring Car Masters)
series, AMG clinches the championship title with Bernd Schneider at the wheel
of a Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM.
- 2001: A repeat of the previous year with Bernd Schneider driving his
Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM to the drivers’ championship crown and AMG taking the
- 2002: The excitement of the DTM continues with the new CLK-DTM. Former
Formula 1 star Jean Alesi makes the switch to Team AMG Mercedes after 201
Grand Prix races.
- 2003: Bernd Schneider yet again clinches the driver’s championship as Team
AMG Mercedes once again brings glory home in the DTM series.
- 2004: Gary Paffett is runner-up in the DTM driver championship, and Team
AMG Mercedes wins half of the series events.
- 2005: Team AMG Mercedes is again a contender for the championship, with
Gary Paffett, Jean Alesi and Mika Hakkinen fighting for the top positions.
The AMG Safety Car
Mercedes-AMG was represented in the Formula 1 World Championship by the SL55 AMG
(official safety car) and C32 AMG station wagon (Medical Car) in 2003. The
current Formula One safety car is the new SLK55 AMG Roadster. The company was
also involved in international polo as a team sponsor.
In 1999, the motorsports department was absorbed into company founder
Hans-Werner Aufrecht’s new firm H.W.A., located close to Mercedes-AMG. Some 170
staff now works together with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport to build racing cars and
to manage the two companies’ long-standing involvement in the German Touring Car
Masters (DTM) race series.