You are here

Mercedes tuning: 1980s style

  1. As you will have read elsewhere on the site, AMG have just given us another superb car: the rather delicious E63. So we thought we’d look back at some of the tuners that didn’t manage to pique Mercedes’ interest enough to get the ultimate stamp of approval - incorporation into the company.

    AMG wasn’t always part of Mercedes-Benz, you see. Originally, it was an aftermarket tuner founded in ‘67 by former Benz engineers Hans Werner Aufrechy and Erhard Melcher. After developing some pretty serious racers - and a few bolt-ons for MB’s lineup - Mercedes were suitably impressed. In 1990, AMG linked up with Daimler-Benz, swapping the use of Benz’s dealer network for the development of performance variants.

  2. But they weren’t the only ones offering performance and luxury modifications to old Benzes. Especially in the opulent eighties. Here are some of the other tuners that didn’t make the official grade…

    Click on for some a true taste of the times…

    Pictures courtesy of

  3. Doesn’t look bad from the outside, does it? A spoiler here, gold-plated grill there and set of humungous rims inbetween….

  4. …Oh dear. Gold-plated switchgear, falcon’s head gear stick, telly with camels on and what looks like an eighties recording studio worked into the dash. Winner.

  5. The exterior styling on this one’s a little more extreme - smoothed bumpers, Centra Type 31 rims, Stuttgart taxi-style chrome arch trims. Not abhorrent, by any stretch.

  6. But LOOK! A massive Clarion G80 stereo, telly and relocated controls in the centre console. This has to be the best dashboard in the world. Or possibly worst.

  7. Top-of-the-range Mercedes coupe not quite enough to trumpet your £attractive salary? Make it WIDE. There were hundreds of plastic kits available for these cars at the time, but Gemballa had more discriminating clients - it’s all metal. And probably weighs a ton.

  8. Gemballa was originally named “Gemballa Automobilinterieur” (Gemballa Car Interiors), so you’d expect the Widebody’s innards to be well massaged. Recaro C chairs. Red piping. Powder-white leather. Take THAT, eyes.

  9. As well as luxurizing Range Rover Classics, GoE found time to stretch and eightiesify W126 560SELs. White wheels and gold-plated trim kicked off the offensive.

  10. Thirsty passengers got their own decanter - only space for two crystal tumblers, mind - TV and some spurious eighties electrotat.

  11. Yes. This car happened. So did that moustache. 15” BBS rims, 345mm wide rubber and a supercharger under the bonnet (of the car. Though that moustache doesn’t look normally aspirated).

  12. Just as well it had more power - look what it had to cart around. That’s another Clarion G80 hifi. Presumably, Koenig trimmed the door cards with a human colon.

  13. We’re giving you a quick breather with the relatively downbeat Lorinser. It gets 16-inch rims and whited-out logos.

  14. What a deliciously filthy interior. It’s a right-hooker, too - is it in the country? And can we have it?

  15. We were giving you a break for a reason, internet. Feast your eyes on this - the Sbarro Mercedes 500 Portes Papillon “Gullwing”.

    It has plastic doors, a 6.9-litre V8 (up from the piffling 5.0) and a pricetag of £62,342 - that’s £162,100 in today’s money.

  16. Another eighties tuner, another snow-white interior. This one’s even got red braces around the door

  17. Boomerang aerial. Candy paint. Underbite. All - the Trasco’s got it.

  18. Spurious dials and ginger wood - these are the things you wanted in 1986.

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content