AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 1

Personally, I interpret the acronym AMG to mean “Archive,” “Mechanics,” and “Genealogy.” This brand and I have known each other for almost 40 years now. In other words, I’ve been working at Mercedes-AMG since 1978. And I know how it all started with Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in Großaspach.

This is my own short history: I started working at the AMG repair shop as a motor vehicle mechanic. After about ten years I switched to the Technical Documentation department, and since 2008 I’ve been in charge of the media archive for AMG.

300 meters of documents and unique items

Today we’ve got 300 linear meters of archival material, including a great many unique items. Back then we couldn’t have imagined how quickly this two-man operation would develop into a brand that everyone is familiar with today. I used to be in the same sport-shooting club as Hans-Werner Aufrecht. I was familiar with his company even before I started to work for it, because I come from Affalterbach. Aufrecht and I got into a conversation. I had finished my apprenticeship, and I had heard that AMG was looking for mechanics. As a result of that talk, I switched from the employer I had at that time to AMG — the specialist for really fast cars.

For me, it was a dream come true

Everything used to be easier to understand. For me, it was a dream come true: I was able to work on the refinement and performance optimization of the R/C 107, W 116, 123, and 126 series, and even the G model! Here at the media archive, my professional knowledge and that of my colleagues, such as the communications consultant and automotive expert Dr. Thomas Giesefeld, is a valuable resource. We act as “archaeologists” as we look at the vehicles presented to us, and we ask questions such as “Is that the original front spoiler?” “Are there any gaps in the list of owners?” and “Are the serial numbers of all of the parts — engine, transmission, etc. — consistent?”

How it all began

Back then, the people who worked at AMG were all-rounders. I did everything, from dismantling engines to boosting performance and installing specially made interior equipment. Every customer was treated like a king! Whatever a customer wanted for his vehicle, he would get! Back in those early days, at the beginning of the 1960s, the two engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher worked on the 300 SE race car engine in the development department of Daimler Benz — until the Group ended all of its motor sport activities. But Aufrecht’s and Melcher’s passion for motor sports continued undiminished.

The 300 SE at the German Touring Car Championship

At Aufrecht’s house in Großaspach, they continued to tinker with the engine’s performance during their leisure time. In 1965 Manfred Schiek, a colleague of theirs at Daimler, drove the 300 SE with the engine optimized by Aufrecht and Melcher the German Touring Car Championship — and won ten times! Schiek’s success established the reputation of Aufrecht and Melcher as experts at boosting the performance of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

But that wasn’t enough for Aufrecht: His business plan included offering road vehicles modeled on the successful race car. At the end of 1966 he quit his job at Mercedes-Benz and convinced Melcher to join him in the bold step of setting up their own company. In 1967 they founded the Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach Ingenieurbüro, Konstruktion und Versuch zur Entwicklung von Rennmotoren (engineering studio and design and testing center for the development of racing engines). The company’s headquarters were located in a former mill in the neighboring town of Burgstall. The engines that had been reengineered at the company soon acquired an excellent reputation among private racing teams.

The 24-hour race in Spa

The young company’s first sports milestone was its historic performance in the 24-hour race at Spa in 1971. The AMG 300 SEL 6.8 was the best in its class and won second place in the overall ranking. This heavyweight luxury sedan had left its lighter race car competitors in the dust. That quickly made an impression at the Daimler Benz headquarters in Stuttgart… We continue the story in Part 2!

AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 2

AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 3

Michael Clauss knows AMG inside and out. He started working at Mercedes-AMG in the 1970s as an auto mechanic and has been in charge of the media archive since 2008.