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Welcome to Part 3 of our AMG series. This part will be devoted to the 1980s. The brand’s successes in motor sports — an incredible 50 victories for the DTM in the years up to 1993 — and an ever-broader product portfolio of legendary models made the brand immortal and enabled it to grow.
In the early 1980s the company was still quite small, and it continued to be powered by motor sports. At the same time, however, it had to duplicate this fast growth in its road vehicles. It mastered this task skillfully by defining new engines, vehicles, and model series that were completely differentiated from the standard series. More and more orders were received in Affalterbach, especially from the US market.
Variety, specialization, and motor sports
The range of potential customers for AMG widened further as a result of the new Mercedes-Benz model series W 460 (G models, 1979), the compact class (W 201, 1982), and the new S-Class (W 126, 1979). The company also received exclusive orders for unique vehicles, mainly from the U.S., Asia, and the Far East. With overall enhancements of technical performance and stylistic modifications, the models from the 1980s were fundamentally transformed in character, placing them in different vehicle classes — a process that is far removed from tuning. I would like to mention three examples:
The 190 E, which had made its debut in 1982 as the “Baby Benz” compared to the previous model series, was transformed by AMG into a compact high-performance sports car. In the course of the 1980s, the company expanded the dynamic potential of this model series through measures such as installing a 3.2-liter engine. It also offered its many customers an especially powerful “Evolution II Power Pack.”
An SUV that’s a luxury car? A G-ood idea.
The second example falls into the category of legends. Long before Mercedes-Benz realized the potential of the 280 GE, AMG had converted this model from a commercial vehicle into a luxury SUV with the leather appointments and interior of the S-Class (W 126), the front end of the W 116, and a sophisticated stereo system.
An eight-cylinder engine and AMG design gave customers additional individualized value. The vehicle’s retention of its outstanding original characteristics was emphasized by the AMG-prepared winner of the Paris-Dakar rally in 1983.
Schwäbische Motoren Werke
AMG maintained its outstanding position by reaching a corporate milestone: It became an engine manufacturer in 1984.
Erhard Melcher designed a four-valve version of the eight-cylinder M 117, which Hans Werner Aufrecht had shortly before sold to the model’s first customer at the Detroit Motor Show. The 5.6-liter engines that Mercedes-Benz had offered starting in 1985 were modified and installed in the W 124.
With this engine, the AMG 300 E 5.6 reached a speed of 303 km/h and was christened “The Hammer” in the USA. The first Hammer fan clubs sprang up quickly. Shortly thereafter, the Hammer also became available as a coupe and a station wagon. Few people could have expected this development.
In the next part of this series, you’ll see some more automotive dreams coming true.