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The Early History of Mercedes-Benz AMG

It is rather well known that Hans-Werner Aufrecht (A) and his partner Erhard Melcher (M) founded AMG in 1967 at Aufrecht's birthplace of Grossaspach (G); hence the name, "AMG." What is not as well known is their early history and the humble beginnings of AMG.

Back in the mid-1960s, there were two guys with a small garage in an old mill that were building engines for fast cars, really fast cars. When these two guys acted on their urge they spawned one of today's largest suppliers of exclusive high-performance cars. The two guys were Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, the founders of AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (AMG Engine Production and Development, Ltd.). Thankfully, the company name was later shortened to AMG.

AMG Mercedes-Benz engine; SLK55 AMG MercedesAufrecht and Melcher started in 1965 by preparing a racing engine for Manfred Schiek's 300SE. Two years later, the owners officially founded the company and began their humble beginnings in the "Old Mill" in Burgstall, Germany.

According to historical information provided by Mercedes-AMG, the first private customer of the new company was a Mercedes owner from Kiel. With a humble beginning there is always a good story. Here's the gist of the story going around today, which is said to be Friedrick Aufrecht's story. Friedrick is the brother of AMG co-founder, Hans-Werner. Continue reading » »


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Value Diminution Mercedes-Benz Collectible Cars

At AMG Market, we get a lot of requests for information pertaining to Mercedes-Benz collectible cars. To help out our readers we are providing, with the authors permission, an article titled, “Value Diminution – Fact or Fiction?” (Source: John Olson)

There are many opinions we’ve all heard for avoiding loss of value in collectible cars. Is it better to rebuild an original engine’s block than replace it? At what point do you take original paint off a collectible car? Many people spend extra thousands of dollars returning a car to it’s original color after learning how it left the factory when new.

Many collectors have praised the charm and often superior durability of original paint. Giving up a 90% well preserved original finish, even if faded, to eliminate a few scratches or dents doesn’t make sense. Obvious losses come from hasty repair work that shows — from overspray on rubber that should have been removed to misaligned body work that belies an accident free past. Finally, there are obstructive insurance practices that can prevent proper repairs.


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AMG Mercedes-Benz – Tomorrow

Late spring I wrote an article for The Star Magazine titled, "AMG Mercedes-Benz, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." The Star is published by the Mercedes-Benz Club of America (MBCA). For those that don't get the magazine, here's a short excerpt concerning the "tomorrow" for AMG.

The following excerpt also includes information that I collected while researching that was not published. You can read the article in the July/August issue of the Star magazine (page 55).

More horsepower. Is it possible and do we even want more?
Its clear the engineers and designers of pre-merger AMG vehicles focused heavily on performance and increasing horsepower. This trend continues post-merger but the focus is slowly but surely changing.

I’ve encountered AMG enthusiasts claiming a "watering down" of the performance bias, while others view this shifting tide as a return to a more balanced automobile. However you view this mild debate it is apparent that we are approaching the horsepower limits for passenger cars. Due to the limitations associated with cooling an engine, the practical horsepower limit is widely believed to be in the range of 650 to 700 hp. Given we’re basically there, what’s next?

New decades create new customer demands and automobile manufacturers are paying attention.

“Sooner or later the market for high-performance vehicles will be saturated, as there’s only limited demand for 600 bhp cars,” explains Oliver Kurz, Head of Planning, Reporting and Order Management at Mercedes AMG. “These are the kind of trends we needed to consider in our planning processes.” (Quote from Cognos website).

Significantly more attention is being paid to creature comforts and cockpit controls. Instead of more horses under the hood expect to see more chips in the chassis. By the end of the decade, a third of a car's value will lie in its electronics and advanced technologies.

AMG competitor BMW is also heavily focused on technology and their advances have caught the eye of tech savvy PC Magazine, which awarded the BMW X5 the "Digital Drive Car of The Year." The criteria for PC Magazine's second annual Digital Drive Awards? They looked for cars with an expected baseline of technology – such as Bluetooth, navigation, parking sonar, stability control, and a full complement of safety features. Then they sought out the first implementations of technology that will be mainstream in two to five years.

Based on PC Magazine’s comments on the, ah, BMW, here’s a few things you can expect,

“Consider the tech package, for instance. The nav system employs a split-screen, transflective display that grows brighter in sunlight. The real-time traffic reports draw information from more than 600,000 other vehicles that automatically report their position and speed (rather than relying on copters, police sightings, and embedded sensors prone to failure). A back-up camera and front/rear sonar combine to provide a backing view – enhanced by Doppler-effect sound – that overlays warning bars (in green, yellow, and red) to indicate your proximity to hazards.”

They can rocket to the future, they can rocket to the moon…if they need anything they push a button and it's done. Sound familiar? Yes, the Jetsons will soon be comfortable in the cockpit of your car.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending an AMG talk given by former AMG Product Manager, Rob Allan. MBCA’s Greater Washington Section organized the event. It was a classic with Rob giving his presentation in the garage bay area at Euro Motorcars of Germantown – where else would a true car guy rather be?

During the presentation Rob touched on the improvements in transmission technology. If you haven’t done so already, kiss your stick shift goodbye. Like it or not machines now shift faster, smoother, and more intelligently than humans. Double down shifting? Not a problem. According to Rob Allan and other automotive aficionados, automatic transmissions are now “the world’s most intelligent transmissions.” The only thing the driver should reach for with his or her right hand is a coffee mug; assuming coffee isn’t dispensed out of the steering wheel in the future – maybe I should patent that idea? You can also expect to hear, “Mom, what’s a stick shift?”

Another resource pertaining to AMG’s future you should consider is the discussion groups published on the AMG Private Lounge. AMG owners have access to exclusive information such as the “Chat Sessions” held on the discussion boards. About once a month the AMG Product Manager from MBUSA, currently Mark Ramsey, hosts a discussion session where he answers questions from AMG Private Lounge members. The publishers prefer not to re-publish the question and answer sessions so you’ll need to visit the Lounge for details.

Performance still holds the prominent role in the AMG marketing campaigns. Consider, for example, the marketing copy for the SL 55 AMG, which reads, “An athlete among roadsters, the muscular, dynamic, tireless SL 55 AMG possesses strength and style.” The performance stats still come first, “With the 517 hp (380 kW) of the AMG 5.5-liter V8 Kompressor engine…” And the styling features still follow performance, “The AMG styling, retractable hardtop and attractive interior complete the look that complements its high performance.”

Will AMG reach the day when the high performance complements the styling? I doubt it but the trend appears to be heading in this direction.

No matter what direction our beloved AMG cars take in the future, one thing will always remain the same: AMG “high-styling” cars will be fun to drive and enthusiasts will drive them.

 


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The Mercedes-Benz SLK Story to Date

With over a half-million sold worldwide, the Mercedes-Benz SLK has been a success story since it was first introduced as a concept car at the Turin Auto Show back in 1994. Production models arrived in 1997. To honor the SLK’s 10th Anniversary, the SL Market Letter published the article, “Mercedes-Benz SLK – A Home Run!” that outlines the features and changes in the SLK since it was introduced.

Below we focus our discussion on the SLK AMG and provide excerpts of the SL Market Letter article (published in quotes below with John Olson’s permission).

2002 SLK32 AMG2002 SLK320 AMG Mercedes-Benz | AMG Market

Introduced during 2001, the 2002 SLK32 AMG was the first SLK to wear the “AMG” badge. Originally priced at $55k, it features a supercharged and inter-cooled V6 engine that produces 332 lb-ft of torque.

2002: Enter the SLK32 AMG with a whopping 349 HP (0-60 in 4.8 seconds). Three engine choices: 1) 192 HP four valve, supercharged 4 cylinder, 2) 215 HP V6 and 3) the AMG V6. The SLK32 AMG’s engine has twin spark plugs per cylinder for maximum combustion. A newly engineered five-gear “SpeedShift” boasts 35% quicker automatic shifts. The SLK32 AMG uses lower (numeric) transmission gears and a 3.07:1 rear axle for an electronically limited top-speed of 155 mph….

The AMG supecharger is the Lysholm-type (screw type), which provides boost virtually from idle speed. The AMG variant has reinforced suspension and newly designed wheels for better brake cooling. Brakes became 13.15″ diameter vs. 11.8″ standard. Revised air dams/spoilers minimize and balance aerodynamic lift front-to-rear and top speed. A small lip spoiler at the trailing edge of the trunk lid reduces rear airlift by more than 50%. AMG interiors introduce more bolstered seats, unique two-tone leather and dark birds-eye maple wood. AMG instruments are finished in silver. The warranty included free adjustments and regularly scheduled maintenance for the full four years or 50,000 miles. [warranty ended in 2006].

The anti-lock brakes include Mercedes’ Electronic Brake Assist, traction control, and Electronic Stability Program (ESP). Drivers can switch the ESP off to more thoroughly enjoy track events and autocross competitions.

Note: The SL Market Letter has re-published the SLK article on their website as an example article from the SL Market Letter (newsletter). You can subscribe to the SL Market Letter here.
*Excerpts of the article are published here with the publisher’s permission.


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