Mercedes-Benz AMG celebrates 40th
AMG, the well-known performance division of Mercedes-Benz is celebrating its 40th anniversary. AMG was originally an independent tuner company that was gradually acquired by Mercedes-Benz during the 1990s. Since I actually own a classic Mercedes-Benz mildly modded by the original independent AMG, I figured their history would be an interesting read.
The company was founded on June 1, 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht (A) and his partner Erhard Melcher (M); the third letter in the company name (G) came from Aufrecht’s birthplace, GroÃŸaspach. The two men officially described themselves as “Engineering, construction and testing specialists in the development of racing engines”. The firm was based in an old mill in Burgstall (near Affalterbach).
They did not have to wait long for their breakthrough: a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG finished a surprising second overall at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1971 in Belgium, winning its class at the same time. The 428-hp racing saloon was driven alternately by Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz. This historic victory was followed by countless successes at all manner of motorsport arenas.
AMG took the DTM team title no less than five times. Bernd Schneider, Gary Paffett and Klaus Ludwig collected a total of eight DTM titles, with Schneider also taking the ITC (International Touring Car Championship) title.
It was Schneider again, at the wheel of the Affalterbach team’s CLK-GTR, who took the drivers’ title in the inaugural FIA GT Championship in 1997, a success repeated by Klaus Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta the following year when they also won the constructors’ title for Team AMG Mercedes â€“ the CLK-GTR won all eleven races of the season.
In the current 2007 DTM season, Bernd Schneider – who already has a record-breaking five titles to his name â€“ is committed to doing everything he can to defend his 2006 championship title in the all-new AMG Mercedes C-Class.
The transfer of technology from motorsport to series-production development was already an integral part of the company’s philosophy. AMG’s ability to deliver outstanding technological achievements and first-class quality as a result of its involvement in motorsport meant that the company quickly made a name for itself and became highly respected. As a result of the aims which it had set itself, AMG soon became one of the pioneers in the refinement and tuning of premium vehicles.
The strong demand for refined and tuned Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the 1970s led to a steady increase in the number of orders received by AMG.
The company outgrew its base in Burgstall and moved to Affalterbach in 1976. As the first Mercedes-Benz tuning company, AMG developed into a model for an entire branch of the automotive industry. The company’s impact was evident at the 1981 Frankfurt Motor Show, where a total of 176 exhibitors were involved in tuning and accessories for the Mercedes-Benz brand.
An important event in the history of AMG was the launch of the Mercedes-Benz 190 in 1982. The compact saloon soon became a favourite with German car tuners and helped AMG to tap into a whole new clientele.
AMG continued to expand and in 1985 the company opened its second plant and took on its 100th employee. Customers worldwide world began to come to Affalterbach, among them prominent figures from motorsport, film, music, sport and business, not to mention royalty. Time and again, the highly specialised requirements of these highly discerning customers resulted in exceptional projects, which AMG was always able to bring to fruition.
As an industry pioneer and trendsetter, AMG was able to draw on its ever-expanding wealth of experience to great effect. Ignoring short-lived fads, the company was already committed to its vision of securing â€“ and maintaining â€“ the position of world leader in its sector in terms of technology, design, sales and earnings.
One of the key milestones in the history of AMG came in 1990, with the signing of the co-operation agreement with Daimler-Benz AG. Demand and customer acceptance were given a tremendous boost now that AMG products could be sold and maintained through Mercedes-Benz’ worldwide network of company-owned sales and service outlets and dealerships.
Further expansion led to the opening of a third plant in 1990 and an increase in the workforce to 400 employees. In 1993, the company unveiled the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG, the first jointly developed vehicle to result from the co-operation agreement. In another development the same year, the Patent Office recognised AMG as a trademark as the name was now so well known.
Hans Werner Aufrecht transferred a majority stake in the steadily growing company to DaimlerChrysler AG on January 1, 1999. On January 1, 2005 DaimlerChrysler acquired 100 per cent of the shares. This allowed the newly founded Mercedes-AMG GmbH to benefit to an even greater extent from the Group’s resources and global standing.
Also in 1999, the motorsport department was transferred to company founder Hans Werner Aufrecht’s firm H.W.A. GmbH (now H.W.A. AG). Located in close proximity to Mercedes-AMG GmbH, some 200 staff now work there together with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport to manage the two companies’ long-standing involvement in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM).
Mercedes-AMG has been an important part of the safety concept in Formula 1 for over ten years. The official F1â„¢ safety car is based on the CLK 63 AMG whilst also providing the technological blueprint for the new CLK 63 AMG Black Series.
The C 55 AMG Estate, meanwhile, provides the basis for the official F1â„¢ medical car. The decades of experience acquired in touring car and GT racing played a key role in the development of these two extra-special AMG vehicles.
The opening of the AMG PERFORMANCE STUDIO in 2006 marked the start of a new initiative to appeal to customers on a most individual level. In addition to the AMG high-performance cars available through the global Mercedes-Benz sales organisation, the PERFORMANCE STUDIO develops and produces special series of AMG vehicles in exclusive numbers.
Offered as the Signature Series, Black Series and Editions, these uniquely special models stand out by virtue of their outstanding handling, race-track capability, distinctive technical and visual features or their exclusive equipment details, depending on the particular model in question.
Apart from the new CLK 63 AMG Black Series, the latest product from the AMG PERFORMANCE STUDIO is the SLK 55 AMG Black Series, a purist’s lightweight version equipped with an AMG 5.5-litre V8 engine delivering 400 hp, plus numerous components from the world of motorsport. As well as focussing on particularly compelling AMG vehicles, the AMG PERFORMANCE STUDIO also attends to customers’ individual requests â€“ a traditional forte of Mercedes-AMG.
These special requirements can take the form of specific technical modifications, such as AMG sports suspension systems,AMG high-performance brake systems, AMG wheel/tyre combinations, limitedslip differentials and customised interior appointments, as well as bespoke one-off models.