In the case of Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, a passion project born within a small garage in Großaspach has turned into a multimillion dollar endeavour.
In the case of Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, a passion project born within a small garage in Großaspach has turned into a multi-million dollar endeavour.
Aufrecht, Melcher, Großaspach. Three names that, on their own, seem to have little effect on the general population; but take their initials, put them together and it reads ‘AMG’, three letters that spell out German automotive supremacy. The mere mention of AMG conjures up images of sleek, sexy sportscars; the roar of turbocharged engines, the orchestra of pops and crackles coming out of the exhaust pipes, and, more importantly, the exhilaration behind the wheel. And this is the legacy that two men – Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher – left behind, a legacy 50 years in the making. AND SO, IT BEGINS… The story of how AMG was born isn’t quite unlike the many other success stories told by companies that have been around this long. It was back in the 1960s that both Aufrecht and Melcher were just engineers working on the 300 SE racing engine in the Daimler-Benz Development department. However, before anything could become of their work, the company decided to discontinue all motorsports activities. Not one to let their project be dismantled along with company policy, both Aufrecht and
Melcher continued to work on the engine in the garage of the former’s house in Großaspach.
They spent time honing the performance of the engine at night after working hours and, in 1965, they were confident enough to put their 300 SE engine into their colleague’s car for the German Touring Car Championship. They won 10 times. This became the catalyst that Aufrecht needed to form AMG. In 1966, he left Mercedes-Benz and persuaded Melcher to venture into a shared business with him. Melcher confesses: “Aufrecht was the real driving force to start a business”, while Aufrecht said: “Melcher has so much intelligence, so much genius that I knew I would be successful with him.” And so, Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach Ingenieurbüro, Konstruktion und Versuch zur Entwicklung von Rennmotoren (Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach engineering firm, design and testing for the development of racing engines) was born. We’ll just call it AMG for short.
With each race that AMG-tuned cars won, its reputation grew and, in the years that followed, AMG equipped more Mercedes models with performance technology. Business was so good for the brand that, in 1976, together with about a dozen employees, AMG moved to a purpose-built workshop and office space in Affalterbach, where the current HQ of the brand still is today. Seeing the success of AMG, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes-Benz wanted a piece of that action and, in the late 1980s, started working with AMG as an official racing partner. Between 1988 and 1993, with this new support, AMG won a total of 50 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) races. AMGS AS WE KNOW IT TODAY It wasn’t until the 1990s that the Mercedes-AMGs that we are familiar with today got its legs. It was in this year that Daimler-Benz AG signed a cooperation agreement with AMG. Through this agreement, AMG products could now be sold and maintained through MercedesBenz’s worldwide network of company-owned sales and service outlets, and dealerships. Around that time, the manufacture grew once again in size, increasing its workforce to 400 employees with an expansion through the opening of a third plant. 1993 was a particularly special year for this cooperation, with the unveiling of the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG, the first jointly developed vehicle by Mercedes-Benz and AMG.
Throughout the decade, the AMG brand grew continuously and, in 1999, Aufrecht decided it was time to transfer a majority stake to DaimlerChrysler AG. Six years later, DaimlerChrysler acquired the rest. With Mercedes-AMG now a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, in 2009, it unleashed the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the first vehicle to be developed entirely by Mercedes-AMG and still considered a cult classic by many fans of the brand. Five years later, the modern icon of Mercedes-AMG was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in the form of the AMG GT. 50 YEARS OF SUCCESS Today, Mercedes-AMG is far from its roots as small tuner of Mercedes cars. The Affalterbach-based company is home to around 1,600 employees and in 2016 alone, it delivered almost 100,000 vehicles to customers worldwide. They have more than 50 different options to choose from that range from the AMG GT that sits at the top of the pyramid to the 63 models with eight cylinder engines and the most recent 43 AMGs that offer six cylinder engines. The success of AMG as a whole has brought the excitement of driving, once reserved only for hardcore enthusiasts, to even the more casual drivers around the world. Case in point: in 2013 the compact 45 series models (with four cylinder engines) managed to capture the emotions of an entirely new market for the brand, reaching the youngest ever AMG clientele (an average age of 35 to 45 years).
Even though the Mercedes-AMG we know today is no longer the company that Aufrecht and Melcher built five decades ago, the spirit of AMG lives on in the quest for pure driving performance. It’s hard to imagine that this now multimillion-dollar company was born out of the undying passion of two very gifted engineers and a small little garage in Großaspach.
01 Hans Werner Aufrecht, one of the founders of AMG 02 AMG 300 SEL6.8 03 Mercedes-AMG GTR 03