AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of our AMG series, which will be devoted to the 2000s. For AMG, the new decade already began in 1999, when DaimlerChrysler acquired 51 percent of the company’s shares from Hans Werner Aufrecht .

Equally spectacular was the presentation in 2009 of the first vehicle that had been developed completely independently in Affalterbach: the SLS AMG, which literally lent wings to the brand.

When I think of the years between these two milestones in the company’s corporate and product history, I don’t have to look far for other remarkable events. The new company, Mercedes-AMG GmbH, was officially launched on January 1, 1999, with Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard as its CEO. Shortly thereafter, Hans Werner Aufrecht founded H.W.A. GmbH (later AG), which from then on ran the race participations of Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG.

This constellation placed motor sports participation and the company’s rapidly expanding engine production on a firm footing for the future. It combined the strength of the Group with the speed and flexibility of AMG and Aufrecht. And that inevitably led to continued success on the race track. In 2000 Bernd Schneider won the new DTM Masters series with AMG, and in 2003 he celebrated his fourth DTM championship after winning nine out of ten races.

Power galore

In 1999, the SL 73 AMG was the world’s strongest roadster and the Mercedes-Benz model with the largest engine displacement since 1945.

Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG (R129)

Its successor, the SL 55 AMG from the R 230 model series with a 5.5-liter M113 V8 compressor engine, was presented by Mercedes-Benz at the IAA in 2001. It was yet another impressive embodiment of strength and vitality.

By the end of the decade, this 500 hp roadster had become an icon of the SL series’ history. For many auto fans, this model is still the dream car par excellence. Since then, the V8 compressor has proved itself as the power unit of the new AMG product portfolio.

Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG

And the Oscar goes to …

In 2003 the M113 E 55 V8 compressor engine from AMG — one of my favorite engines — beat its competitors by far and received the internationalEngine of the Year Award. A modified version of this engine, the AMG M155, powered the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren with up to an incredible 500 kW/600 hp. But that’s not all. Only two years later, the team in Affalterbach once again celebrated an “engine Oscar.” In 2005, the engine of the AMG M275 E 65 V12, which gave the S-Class and the CL coupe their immense power, was impossible for the competition to beat.

Winners without end

On January 1, 2005 Daimler AG acquired the remaining shares of AMG. Volker Mornhinweg succeeded Hubertus Troska as the CEO and opened up a new chapter of the company’s highly specialized integration process. AMG enjoyed spectacular success in motor sports as Gary Paffett won the DTM Masters championship in 2005 and Bernd Schneider drove a CLK AMG to his fifth DTM victory in 2006.

Bernd Schneider, pictured here driving a Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class at the DTM race in Barcelona, won his fifth DTM championship in 2006.

That was the situation in 2007, when we celebrated the company’s 40th anniversary in Affalterbach. In honor of the occasion we created a replica of the legendary red racing car that conquered Spa, the AMG 300 SEL 6.8. We subsequently established an AMG corporate archive, without which many of the documents and objects of AMG’s history, such as the photos shown here, would certainly no longer be in existence.

Giving the brand wings

For me and for many of my colleagues, the absolute highlight of this decade was the multiple award-winning SLS AMG, which was presented as a coupe at the IAA 2009 to an admiring audience and quickly became a bestseller. With its gullwing doors — capable of being pyrotechnically detached — it impressively demonstrated a detail that only Mercedes can have. Other unique Mercedes achievements included the historic motif of the famous “sports car of the century,” the 300 SL, and the stringent safety standards of the new millennium.

Mercedes-Benz SLS 63 AMG (C197) 2009

The SLS AMG drive system with transaxle construction and an adaptive 7-speed dual clutch transmission introduced a new level of driving dynamics and harmony. Its M159 V8 engine with 6,208 cc displacement, 420 kW (571 hp) power output, and torque of 650 Nm at 4,750 rpm enabled it to reach an electronically regulated top speed of 317 km/h. I can’t imagine a more impressive example of the dynamic power of AMG in combination with the legend of Mercedes Benz. I can think of a few more highlights from AMG’s recent past that illustrate this combination. I’d be happy to share them with you in the next part of this series.


AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 4

AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 3

AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 2

AMG — 50 years and countless stories: Part 1

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.