TwilighT wiTh The gods
Before Mercedes-Benz thought to pack its mid-size saloon with a big, bad V8, AMG showed the way. Now everybody’s at it. Cue Wagnerian thunder…
Aufrecht’s hAmmer. Sounds like a chapter from the Ring of the Nibelung. You could make something very Wagnerian out of it: Mercedes-Benz’s famous blue Renntransporter driving deep into the Black Forest, with a frightened, white 1985 230E chained on board. The wide-eyed crew unloading it in the gloom, leaving it next to a huge moss-covered rock, then scurrying back to their truck and speeding away before the sun finally sets. The next you know, this glowering, muscular über-Q-car bursts from the forest to the stabbing brass and rushing strings accompaniment of Siegfried’s Funeral March.
OK, that may not have been how Mercedes dropped off its cars to business-suited Hans-Werner Aufrecht and his racing/tuning firm of AMG. But the most shocking element of the story is true – this prototype of AMG’s autobahnstormers did begin life as a stock W124 230E. You know, the kind you might have found at the time in the taxi rank outside Athens airport or in a manager’s parking space at some Frankfurt air-conditioning company.
But that W124 had two things on its side. The first was that, in those days, Mercedes built its cars – all of its cars – to the highest standard: over-engineered components that lasted for aeons, doors that shut like fortress gates. And the newly designed model had one of the lowest drag coefficients of its day, at 0.28Cd. Furthermore, Aufrecht, Melcher, Grossaspach (or AMG) had been formed in 1967 by a group of ex-Daimler-Benz engineers and had established a formidable reputation for tuning and hooning big Mercs in competition. Think of the Rote Sau 300SEL 6.3 at the Spa 24-hours in 1971 or the flared 450 SLCs both on track and in the Safari Rallies.
Sitting in the AMG Hammer, you can see and feel the dual parentage. Around you on the outside are those polished granite body panels, the makers and the tuners only allowing themselves