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Mercedes-Benz History: History of Mercedes and AMG Partnership

Words Marcus Bloom | June 05, 2010
The first jointly developed AMG car was the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG in 1993 built with the AMG principle “One Man, One Engine”
Words Marcus Bloom June 05, 2010

In October 1990, Daimler-Benz and AMG signed a contract in which the partners agreed to engage in intensive cooperation in the development, production, sales and servicing of passenger cars and passenger-car parts. The first jointly developed AMG high-performance car – the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG – was presented in 1993. As a matter of course, it was built in accordance with the manufacturing principle adopted by AMG – “One Man, One Engine” – which is fully in keeping with the tradition of Gottlieb Daimler. AMG strives to live up to the high-performance claim which Daimler already made on his riding car of 1885. The latter’s engine developed half a horsepower from a displacement of 624 cubic centimeters and gave the riding car a top speed of 16 km/h – top performance at the time and proof of the possibility of making the concentrated power of a machine available to a human being. AMG is pursuing this philosophy with every vehicle, thereby striving for Gottlieb Daimler’s vision of individual mobility.

Enthusiastic customers all over the world and a unique, well-known brand – since 1967 Mercedes-AMG GmbH has been developing from a motorsport and tuning company into a supplier of exclusive high-performance cars. Thanks to the integration in the DaimlerChrysler Group, begun in 1999 and completed in 2005, Mercedes-AMG is able to make even better use of the Group’s resources and its worldwide strength.

International breakthrough in the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps

The name AMG stands for the initials of the two founders, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher; the third letter in the company name derives from Großaspach, the town where Aufrecht was born. The official designation of the newly founded company of three was “Engineering Office, Design and Testing for the Development of Race Engines”. The company’s headquarters was an old mill in Burgstall near Affalterbach in south-west Germany. The success story of the Swabian company began with specially prepared Mercedes-Benz cars which were entered in racing. The year 1971 saw the company’s international breakthrough when, to everyone’s complete surprise, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG finished first in its class and second in the overall ranking in the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), in which drivers Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickendanz had been taking turns at the wheel of the racing sedan – and AMG became famous overnight.

Customers’ wishes for dynamic handling and individuality provide for upswing

This success boosted the company’s renown enormously and helped AMG in making Mercedes-Benz cars faster and more attractive. The desire for more dynamic handling and individuality, growing in the 1970s, was responsible for a veritable upswing. Before very long, the company’s headquarters in Burgstall became too small and in 1978, AMG, employing 40 people at the time, moved to Affalterbach.

The first Mercedes-Benz tuner, AMG developed into a pioneer for the entire industry in the course of the years. Right from the start, the transfer of technology from motorsport to series production has been part of AMG’s corporate philosophy and has remained a trademark of AMG to this day. The company’s renown was further enhanced by top-class accomplishments in technology and first-grade quality resulting from AMG’s motorsport commitment.

Prominent Mercedes fans discover AMG

And AMG continued to grow. In 1985 plant no. 2 was opened and the 100th member of staff employed. Affalterbach attracted interested parties from all over the world: prominent AMG fans recruited from the spheres of motorsport, movie-making and music, sports, industry and international royalty. The special and – at times – very special wishes of this demanding clientele time and again gave rise to out-of-the-ordinary one-off cars which AMG designed and built with great innovative drive, outstanding passion and all-encompassing expertise.

Cooperation contract of 1990 opens up new possibilities for AMG

The cooperation agreed between Daimler-Benz and AMG in 1990 opened up completely new possibilities for the medium-sized company. From then on, AMG cars were sold and serviced by the world-wide sales network of Mercedes-Benz – improving acceptance on the part of the customers decisively. Continued expansion led to the opening of plant no. 3, and the workforce grew to 400. In 1993, the German Patent and Trademark Office registered the acronym AMG as a trademark, thereby acknowledging the brand’s high level of recognition. The C 36 AMG launched in the same year was the first jointly developed AMG high-performance car of which over 5,000 units were produced until 1997. Similar successes were recorded with the E 50 AMG and E 55 AMG in the following years.

Another milestone was the integration of AMG in the DaimlerChrysler Group on January 1, 1999, when Hans Werner Aufrecht transferred 51 percent of his stake to the newly founded Mercedes-AMG GmbH. The motorsport department was hived off and renamed H.W.A. GmbH. In the immediate vicinity of Mercedes-AMG, some 210 employees are now taking care of AMG’s long-term activities in the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) together with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

Modernization and expansion in Affalterbach starting in 2000

Parallel to this, the location in Affalterbach was expanded and modernized. New representative buildings and the latest test rigs demonstrate the exceptional position of this traditional company to visitors at first glance. In the new AMG engine manufacturing department, the most progressive production processes are applied to build the powerful AMG high-performance engines in keeping with the AMG philosophy “One Man, One Engine”. By 2005, the company premises had grown from 41,300 to 57,750 square meters; at the same time, the roofed area in all buildings more than doubled from some 20,000 to 42,850 square meters.

In January 2005 DaimlerChrysler took over the remaining shares and has since been the sole stockholder of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. With this move, DaimlerChrysler secured the competence, the experience and the manpower of a partner who has over the years become the epitome of success in international motorsport, in manufacturing exclusive high-performance cars and in creating dynamic designs. This exemplary success story is borne out by the sales figures. Sales of Mercedes-AMG GmbH rose from 11,500 units in 2000 to over 20,000 units in 2004. The workforce also reached a new record level: some 680 people are currently employed at the location in Affalterbach (as per October 2005).

Since September 1, 2005, the company management has been made up of Volker Mornhinweg (chairman), Wolf Zimmermann (Development and Production) and Domingos Piedade (Sales, Marketing and Global Relations).

Mercedes-AMG: Responsibility for all processes

Being the Performance Division of the DaimlerChrysler Group,Mercedes-AMG assumes responsibility for all processes in the development of chassis, engine, drive system, suspension, brakes, electronics, aerodynamics, interior, design and quality through to the approval of the complete AMG car. In addition, Mercedes-AMG takes care of all aspects which are relevant for marketing and sales – completely independently. A traditional strength of AMG is the realization of particularly individual customer wishes: in the AMG Manufacture, specialists come up with tailor-made and out-of-the-ordinary solutions and create unique, one-off cars to meet customer wishes – “one man, one engine” – incorporating the highest quality standards as a matter of course.

The AMG Manufacture is also the place where the SLK 55 AMG used as the official FIA Formula One Safety Car and the C 55 AMG station wagon serving as Medical Car were set up. AMG’s long-term commitment to Formula One began in 1984 with a specially developed Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe for use as Medical Car. After sporadic activities in the following years, Mercedes-AMG has been providing the FIA Safety Car regularly in what is the ninth successive season now. It began with the C 36 AMG in 1996 and continued with the first CLK 55 AMG in 1997, the CL 55 AMG in 2000 and the SL 55 AMG one year later. The new CLK 55 AMG made its debut in 2003, and since 2004, the new SLK 55 AMG has been ensuring safety on Formula One race-tracks.