Producer of the finest limited edition, factory-tuned luxury cars, Mercedes-Benz's performance division AMG started humbly in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher. Starting off as a race engine tuning house inside of an old mill, AMG's first of many claims to fame came in 1971 at the 24-hour race at Spa. Modifying a bulky Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL to compete in the prestigious Belgium sports car against other more nimble cars. Planting a powerful 6.9-liter V8 engine, AMG's brute horsepower would net an impressive second place finish in the race. Upon the 300 SEL AMG race car success, their company would become a go-to source for custom accessories such as aerodynamic-enhancing body kits and performance alloy wheels to Mercedes-Benz customers.
Focused in supplying Mercedes-Benz passenger cars with aftermarket parts for a decade and a half, 1986 saw AMG build a fully-tuned production sedan that would galvanize their performance reputation to this day. Using a late model Mercedes-Benz 300 sedan, AMG shoehorned a 5.6-liter, 360 horsepower V8 under revised bodywork creating one of the world's first super sedans. Combined with a specially-tuned suspension and 17 inch wheels, the car became affectionately known in the performance-deprived 1980s as the AMG Hammer, achieving 0-60 times within the mid 5 second range. During this time, the acclaimed AMG Hammer shocked even the best Ferrari and Porsche sports cars in speed tests.
Fully-fledged into tuning Mercedes-Benz cars by the late 1980s, these early AMG creations were not to enjoy the official blessing of the German automaker at that time. However, AMG did enter into their first official association with Japan's Mitsubishi. Intent on infusing European pizazz intoÂ the Japanese domestic market, the AMG-branded Mitsubishi vehicles were hardly a hit. Applied to only two sedans, AMG's first work on the Mitsubishi luxury car, the Debonair, was nothing more than an overworked appearance package. While the second attempt resulted in the more endearing Mitsubishi Galant AMG, the alliance ended as an embarrassment which the German tuner likes forgotten.
In 1990, following the AMG-Mitsubishi pairing, Mercedes-Benz's would make a daring move. After 32 years of operating as an autonomous company, the German auto maker's parent company bought majority interest of AMG, recognizing the potential of bringing their finest performance tuner under the corporate umbrella. With AMG-fitted cars now sold in Mercedes-Benz dealerships, 1993 brought to market their first jointly developed vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG. Not necessarily packing the same speed punch as the Hammer, the C 36 AMG 268 horsepower V6 would muster horsepower per-liter measurement of 74.4, 10 horsepower better than the Hammer. The Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG would also be the first AMG officially sold in the United States when it went on sale in 1995.
From the mid 1990s to today, Mercedes-AMG expanded their rich interpretation of German tuning throughout the Mercedes-Benz lineup, even reaching into the sport utility vehicle market. Including many upgrades to the exterior, interior, and handling, the heart of AMG Mercedes-Benz vehicles lay under the hood. From the spunky 355 horsepower 5.4-liter V8, the ultimate powered 603 horsepower 6-liter bi-turbo V12, to the AMG's pride and joy 6.2-liter V8, each engine bears the signature of the engine builder who handcrafted the powerplant. This attention to detail earns a respected Mercedes-AMG's reputation with financially fortunate customers worldwide.
Entering 43 years in business for 2010, Mercedes-AMG's remains passionate about building vehicles on individual's preferences, which include many stylish one-off creations through AMG Performance Studio. However, their ready-to-drive examples are the ones that attract the well-off performance luxury seekers. For spring 2010, Mercedes-AMG enthusiasts will be bracing for the fully-tuned SLS AMG. Engineered to perform 0 to 60 miles per hour times in 3.5 seconds, this exclusive German hot rod exemplifies the factory fusion which Mercedes-Benz and AMG plans to be exhibiting well into the future.