Mercedes-AMG celebrates 50 years of success this year. AMG is Mercede’s in-house tuning division with the three letters often associated worldwide with supreme automotive performance, exclusivity and highly dynamic pleasure. In its 50 years of existence the Mercedes-AMG has recorded numerous successes in motor sport. They have also developed unique road-going vehicles, thereby repeatedly underlining its position as a highly sports car and performance brand.
Mercedes-AMG wasn’t always the big 1 500 employees and 100 000 cars a year company it is today. It was not always an in-house brand either. When founded in 1967, AMG was a two-man team operating out of a tiny workshop in a retired mill near Stuttgart in Germany. Engineers Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher had gained experience in building 300 SE racing engines for Daimler-Benz in the early 1960s, but when the company shut the doors on all motorsport activities the pair were forced to set up shop on their own. The firm, which was at the time completely separate from Mercedes, was named using the first letters of the pair’s surnames along with the the G from the town they were from: “Aufrecht and Melcher, Großaspach.”
AMG had a quiet start as Aufrecht and Melcher continued to tinker on the 300’s straight-six cylinder head, and visited racetracks on weekends to hone the 3-litre’s full potential for grassroots-level private race teams. The company’s big break didn’t come until 1971, when AMG’s newly developed 300 SEL 6.8 out of the blue took a class win and finished second overall at the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race in Belgium.
By 1976 the business had expanded from engine tuning to become a leading supplier of custom Mercedes-Benz accessories and upgrade parts. AMG’s workforce grew to 40 employees and the operation moved to new premises in Affalterbach, where it’s still based today. AMG was still working independently from Mercedes-Benz, but through the 1980s was the go-to after-market tuning house for Benz customers. The company was now offering styling kits, a signature five-spoke alloy wheel design called the Penta, engine upgrades and the possibility of a five-speed manual gearbox option on V8 models.
Collaboration with Mercedes-Benz began in 1990. The C 36 AMG, launched in 1993, was the first vehicle on the market to result from the collaboration agreement with Daimler-Benz. In 2005, Mercedes-AMG became a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG and 2009 saw the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the first vehicle to be developed entirely by Mercedes-AMG. AMG branched into motor racing with the SLS AMG GT3 in 2011. This was followed by the introduction of the Mercedes-AMG GT in 2014 and the launch of the 43 series models in 2015.
In 2016 Mercedes-AMG saw a sales growth of more than 40 percent, with 99 235 vehicles delivered around the world. Today AMG’s customers have over 50 derivatives to choose from. In South Africa there are five AMG Performance Centres, located in Bedfordview, Bryanston and Menlyn in Gauteng, Century City in Cape Town and Umhlanga in Durban.