Many of you will already know in detail our Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution I from 1989 that has, as a particular feature, the engine powered by the AMG Power Pack. However, not everyone knows how the AMG acronym became associated with the high-performance models of Mercedes-Benz; it´s a powerful and exciting story like all AMG versions.
Among the many endurance races that took place in the European Touring Car Championship during the 70´s, no one doubts that the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps was one of the most important. And it was precisely there that, in 1971, a car made its debut that would lay the foundations of one of the most successful and recognized “tuners” in the world: AMG.
Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, both Mercedes-Benz engineers, decided to leave the company in 1967 to start preparing Mercedes independently. The headquarters was located in the city of Grosspach and the name arose from the initials of both surnames and the name of the chosen place.
During the first years they were in charge of modifying the cars of the clients who wanted to race. But this wasn´t enough for the company’s aspirations and that is why, in 1971, they decided to enter the racing world. They acquired a 250 hp 300 SEL 6.3, a huge four-door sedan that at that time was considered a true luxury limousine. Despite the fact that the size and weight seemed unsuitable for racing, the engineers were optimistic.
The imposing aluminum V8 engine was modified: its displacement climbed to 6800 cc with a power of 420 hp. The original three-speed automatic was replaced by a ZF five-speed manual, while the suspensions retained the original hydroneumatic system. The wheels were replaced by others measuring 15″ x 11″ in the front and 15″ x 13″ in the rear, and all with Dunlop tires. The maximum speed was 285 km/h and its weight in running order was 1635 kilos.
In August 1971 the car made its track debut in Belgium, at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The final result? Driver pairing Hans Heyer / Clemens Schikentanz won their class and took second place in the final standings. Thanks to this success, orders from private clients began to multiply, which enabled the firm to grow steadily and expand work towards other models that would become icons.
In 1978, AMG participated in Group 2 of the European Touring Car Championship with a Mercedes 450 SLC V8 of 4250 cc and 375 hp. With that car they won the Nürburgring Six Hours in 1980. In 1983 they developed the 280 CE 5.0 AMG whose 5-liter V8 engine produced 280 hp and exceeded 230 km/h. But without a doubt, the definitive recognition would come a year later with the legendary 300 CE 5.6 AMG “Hammer” that reached a maximum speed of 300 km/h, a performance that placed it on a par with rivals such as Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari.
Despite the large number of victories achieved and the excellent job of modifying the production cars, it wasn´t until 1988 that Mercedes-Benz officially entered the German DTM championship as a factory team and AMG became its official partner. The chosen model was the 190 E 2.3-16 and from that moment on, AMG became a wholly dependent subsidiary of the brand. Then would arrive the different evolutions of the 190, the victories and the championships, but that´s another story that we will reserve for later. Stay tuned!