In the mid-1960s, there were two guys with a small garage in an old mill that built motors for fast cars, really fast cars. When these two guys acted after their call, they created one of today's biggest 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 abbreviated to AMG.
Aufrecht and Melcher started in 1965 by preparing a racing engine for Manfred Schieks 300SE. Two years later, the owners officially founded the company and began their humble beginnings in "Old Mill" in Burgstall, Germany.
According to the historical information from Mercedes-AMG, the first private customer was the new company Mercedes owner from Kiel. With a humble beginning, it's always a good story. Here is the essence of the story that goes around today, which is said to be Friedrick Aufrecht's story. Friedrick is the brother of co-founder AMG, Hans-Werner.
A customer from Kiel, a city located on the northern border of Germany, is said to be the first private customer of the young Mercedes tuning company. As the story goes, he was in the paddock at a motor sport when he got a hot tip. He was told about a garage in southwestern Germany called AMG which could squeeze every ounce of torque from a Mercedes engine. This customer had a penchant for torque and he decided to visit the garage. After following the sketchy instructions, he found himself in front of two small garage doors on an old mill. Garage doors so small, the fact that he didn't know if his Mercedes would fit inside. Is this the right place he wondered? He ventured inside and observed a hand-buried inspection pit in the middle of the garage. Now he was definitely not sure if it was the right place so he asked, "Where can I find AMG?" The mechanics replied: "You are in the AMG garage."
Later the customer from Kiel took up his car and went home. He was almost to Frankfurt when he turned and drove back. The surprised mechanics couldn't believe it. Just three hours later, their first private customer took their car back. To their infidelity, the customer drove all the way back to the garage to tell them personally how happy he was with the car. The mechanics were inspired and AMG's legacy began.
Over the next three years, AMG concentrated on building racing cars based on the Mercedes-Benz 300SE then. They liked the Mercedes-Benz 300 models and some bad luck for a Mercedes owner proved to be good for AMG. They got wind of a damaged 300 sold by a doctor and they bought it. It was bought for less than $ 6,000 at a time when new models sold for $ 20,000.
AMG mechanics enlarged the cylinder bores, modified camshafts, intake manifold and several other components. When they were finished, their investment fell into labor and shared over $ 100,000. They went into competitions and encountered major setbacks, but failure was not an option. They worked on it and in 1971 the scene was almost canceled. All they needed was a driver of the 24-hour course in Spa, Belgium.
Some drivers turned down the offer to drive their Mercedes heavyweight, including the latest Le Mans winner Gijsbert van Lennep. Finally, European go-kart champions Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz became available and AMG had its team. Surprisingly, the team achieved a class victory and ended second in the overall championship with its Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.8-liter AMG. The owners' persistence and passion had finally paid for the small company and their success spread rapidly.
In the 1970s, the company started offering high performance tuning packages to Mercedes customers in Europe and other markets. Some Mercedes customers wanted individually adapted vehicles and AMG met their needs as well. As NASA transferred AMG technology. They took the lessons they learned on the racetrack and applied their knowledge to production cars. It was a smart and profitable move for AMG, which led to a steady increase in orders and a good reputation as the premier Mercedes-Benz "tuner" in the world.
In 1978, the company had dug the old mill and the owners encountered another congestion. They moved their business to a larger facility in Affalterbach to better meet customers and a staff who had grown to 40 employees. Although the orders for production car changes were rolled in, AMG never missed its passion for motor sports.
In 1980, an AMG Mercedes 450SLC took place in the European Touring Car Championship Grand Prix at Nürburgring. The subsequent AMG racing successes are too many to list now. Suffice it to say that they did well both on and off the track and the company continued to grow rapidly.
Just seven years after moving to Affalterbach, AMG built a second factory and hired its 100 employees. A significant turning point for AMG came five years later, in 1990, when the company signed a cooperation agreement with Daimler-Benz AG. With the agreement came a third factory, an increase in the workforce to 400 employees and plans for the sale of AMG products through Mercedes-Benz dealers in overseas markets. Soon after, AMG began preparing for the production and export of AMG cars to the US market, which today is AMG's largest market.
The first "official AMG" car to reach the US coast was 1995 C36 AMG, but the enthusiasts had privately imported gray market AMG as "The Hammer" much earlier. In 1999, DaimlerChrysler became the majority owner of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. Demand for AMG cars was high and production climbed from 500 to 20,000 cars per year by 2005 when DaimlerChrysler became the sole shareholder of Mercedes-AMG. Although many things have changed during this time, the new owner continued the tradition of building AMG engines using the "one man, one engine" philosophy that continues to this day.
Additional AMG history, including AMG production changes over the decades, can be obtained from AMG Market (www.amgmarket.com), a site dedicated to the Mercedes-Benz AMG enthusiast.