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.

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Contents - TEXT DANIEL GOH IM­AGES MERCEDES-BENZ

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


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