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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The history of Mercedes-Benz AMG – picture special

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I give you, just by way of example, the 5.9-litre, manual-transmission G60 AMG off-roader, the 6.2m-long, six-door S63 AMG Pullman, the 25-off road-going version of the CLK GTR Le Mans car and, my personal fave, the SL73 AMG roadster, whose 7291cc motor is, I believe, still the largest ever fitted to a standard production post-war Mercedes road car.

But it was by no means the most powerful. By 2001, Mercedes and AMG had embraced a technology that it had used to dominate grand prix racing before the war. By supercharging its 5.4-litre V8, a new level of power and performance was achieved, with no loss of driveability. Even in its least powerful guise, a 2002 E55 AMG saloon had exactly the same power as a Ferrari F40 and a top speed that would have nudged 200mph were it not electronically limited to 155mph.

The next year, 2003, was a massive one for AMG. At one end of the spectrum, its engine powered the McLaren-built SLR. At the other, AMG produced its first diesel (who remembers the C30 CDI AMG?), but with only 227bhp, the five-cylinder motor was more diesel than AMG. In the same year, AMG introduced its twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12 to the S-class, an engine that is only now seeing its final years in the S65 AMG.

Another landmark came three years later, with the release of a new 6.2-litre, normally aspirated V8 to replace the old blown V8. Astonishingly, it was the very first engine to be a pure AMG design from the ground up and not based in any way on a pre-existing Mercedes product. This was also the year in which Mercedes and AMG launched its first ‘Black Series’ car, the SLK AMG Black Series.

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More Black Series models followed, including the wondrous CLK Black and the less impressive SL65 Black, but these were merely preparatory to AMG’s greatest achievement to date. When McLaren got the gig to develop the SLR, some at AMG were a little piqued and thought that they could have managed such a project themselves. Their time soon came and, in the SLS, produced the first bespoke AMG car, a machine that was cheaper and better to drive than the SLR and which also reintroduced gullwing doors and, in the SLS AMG E-Cell, the first all-electric supercar. A roadster with less eye-catching doors and an even more hardcore SLS Black edition would follow.

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