Half a century ago, two engineers did a slightly odd thing by leaving their jobs in the best car engineering company in the world, Mercedes-Benz. History justifies them. The little race-engine tuning shop they founded grew, expanded its ambitions and eventually ended up as the name on what’s about to be the next big thing in hypercars: the AMG Project One – a Formula One powertrain in a road car. In the language of weeping reality-TV contestants, “it’s been a journey”.
No-one seems to be able to remember why Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher added Grosspach – the village where Aufrecht was born – to their own two initials, but AMG was the name they settled on. At the start in 1967, it was all about engines. Whatever else the company has done since, the engines have upstaged all the rest.
From engines they started building complete race cars, and added tuning parts for road cars. Later there were road cars sold as a package from new. It was so well-done that Mercedes was ready to jointly develop complete models. The first of those, the Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG, arrived in 1993. Mercedes also took out a stake in AMG and by 2005 owned it wholly.
The wheel turns full circle: Aufrecht left to start his own firm to run many of AMG’s race activities, and Melcher now has his own small tuning shop.
Meanwhile AMG’s base (which moved to Affalterbach in 1976) still makes engines, still by assigning a named individual to build each engine from start to finish. Affalterbach also develops engines, and, with the SLS and GT, ground-up cars too.
Read on for our birthday celebration, as we drive the Silverstone GP circuit in some of AMG’s greatest hits.