For over 50 years, AMG has been one of Germany's premier tuning and racing outfits. Maintaining a close relationship with Mercedes-Benz's production team, and then becoming an official brand of the manufacturer. The tuner's output ranges from big V8 sedans, to low-slung coupes, and to turbocharged hot hatches. Stick around and, let's give a quick history of AMG from the late 60's up to the modern day.
The company began in 1967, created by former Mercedes engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melche as a racing engine shop. Thanks to its founders' prior experience, AMG naturally gravitated to converting Mercedes models into race cars. The most notable early example of theirs was known as the "Red Pig," built in 1971. It took a big 300 SEL sedan and stroked out the engine to a hearty 6.8 liters, making over 400 horsepower. Five of these would ultimately be built, leading various campaigns in European touring car races throughout the 70's.
AMG really took off as a brand when it started offering road cars in the early 80's. The tuner took to building hopped up versions of Mercedes' V8 sedans and coupes, like the E Class and SL. These models quickly became a fashion statement for elites and celebrities, thanks to their specialized looks and exclusive production numbers.
Looking back, it's easy to see how AMG found its niche. For the longest time, Mercedes V8s were torquey, but their true performance potential was held back by single cam timing and dated automatic transmissions. The tuning shop made these cars much more lively with the addition of five-speed manuals and unique dual overhead cam heads. The package was complete with specialized bodywork and alloy monoblock wheels. The 80's E Class AMG would also be given the nickname "Hammer" thanks to its raw performance and aggressive demeanor.
Daimler's corporate wing quickly noticed the popularity of AMG models and struck a deal with the tuning shop in 1993 to have them officially sold in Mercedes showrooms. Previously, AMG cars had to be attained by custom order. This contract would cause Merc and AMG to become more and more intertwined. The brand became more widespread, but less exclusive, as AMG began developing sanctioned upscale versions of Benz's production lineup.
In 1999, Mercedes begun the process of absorbing AMG into itself. Nowadays, the brand is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, and releases performance versions of just about everything the manufacturer makes. They've also been able to develop their own exclusive sports car, namely the SLS AMG and AMG GT. Both being two-seater grand tourers that harken back to Mercedes' original SL gullwing.
In addition to AMG's many collaboration with Mercedes, they've provided engineering for Pagani supercars, Aston Martin's recent lineup, and even the Mitsubishi Gallant VR-4 in the 90's. The company's 2.0 turbocharged four cylinder will also be used to power Lotus' upcoming Emira sports car.
In recent years, the brand has phased out its trademark high-displacement naturally aspirated V8s in favor of smaller displacements and turbochargers. The majority of AMG models in 2022 will either be powered by a three-liter inline six or two-liter four cylinder. These engines can provide impressive performance, but have a totally different character than the classics. In this new decade, we at The Starting Line hope AMG can continue to evolve technologically without losing losing that rebellious spirit.