If German tuner companies can be likened to German rock groups, then most German tuners are like the band Scorpions. Flashy, generally pleasant to listen to, and can be exciting when the occasion calls. AMG is more like Rammstein. Hard and gritty, with melodies that hit you like a sledgehammer. There is no toning it down; it is all metal, all the time.
Over the course of 50 years, AMG has cemented itself as builder of the most “metal” cars to come out of Germany. Started by a pair of former Mercedes engineers, Hans Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, AMG stormed onto the scene with its heavily tuned, 400 (plus)-horsepower 300SEL race car dubbed the “Red Pig.”
Building on its success on the track, AMG began independently tuning Mercedes cars for customers. After the introduction of the “Hammer” in the mid-1980s, AMG took its insaneness to the next level. The near-400-hp sedan not only went like a bat out of hell, it looked incredibly sinister. In 1999, Mercedes-Benz bought a majority share in AMG and brought the operation in house. This allowed AMG and Mercedes to more directly cooperate and build even more nutso cars than before. Black series anyone?
Continuing its prolonged Youngtimer Collection sale, RM Sotheby’s will offer 10 pre-Mercedes merger AMG cars April 10–11 in Essen, Germany. It is RM’s first auction as part of Technoclassica. Here are the five most savage AMG cars on offer.
If you want proof that Germans can produce muscle cars too, look no further than the 560SEC AMG 6.0. It has the basic formula: full-size coupe, large displacement V-8, and a sinister exterior. What AMG did was take the standard 560SEC luxury coupe and give it a healthy shot of steroids. The 238-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 was pulled and enlarged. Then it was reunited with the car as a 6.0L cranking out 385 hp. Then AMG did a very un-muscle-car thing and upgraded the suspension. Thankfully, this heresy is redeemed by the wide body kit for maximum intimidation.
Compared to the super cars of the era, such as the Testarossa and Countach, AMG’s 560SEC was putting out comparable power figures. This also resulted in a comparable price tag; $200,000 and up was what it would take to put one of these in your garage. The question is, for similar money which would you have? The high strung, fragile Italian supercars or the rock-solid reliable yet brutal Merc?
To the average spectator, the SL70 looks like the car that Grandpa bought. Gramps and Grandma probably amble around town seeking the best early bird special for dinner. Making that assumption would be a huge mistake. Mess with this car and you’re in a world of pain, courtesy of the AMG-tuned M120 series V-12 making an astonishing 500 hp. For those still not convinced, the M120 series V-12 was the same engine AMG tuned for use in the Pagani Zonda.
With an insanely powerful V-12 transplanted into an SL platform, you’d assume this car is insanely rare. You’d be right. So rare in fact that we couldn’t find any reliable production numbers. This example was delivered new to Japan with every option box ticked. Sport exhaust, split-rim alloy wheels, carbon fiber trim, and much more. We’ve never seen one at a public sale and we probably won’t again any time soon. Better scoop this one up or forever talk about the one that got away.
It is undeniable that station wagons are cool. If you disagree, then you probably haven’t seen a 500TE AMG. In all honesty, with only two examples reportedly built, not many people have. Sporting AMG’s tuned M117 series 5.0L V-8, this car was no slouch at around 276 hp. This was at a time when most American V-8s struggled to make 200 hp. The exterior is rather nondescript, other than the five-spoke AMG wheels and the blacked-out grille and bumpers. For the interior, the only thing that gives away the AMG treatment are the power, upholstery-matched Recaro seats, and the taxi upper console with additional gauges.
There is only one catch relating to this AMG wagon. The original AMG paperwork is nowhere to be found. Evidence points to this car being a legitimate AMG build however. Unless this car was assembled by an AMG enthusiast with impossible-to-find original parts, it is likely legitimate. Either way, this AMG’s sleeper factor is off the charts, which makes it one of the coolest cars at the sale.
If you desire an early example of AMG’s hot-rodded Mercs, look no further than this 1975 450 SEL AMG 6.9. Starting life as a 6.3L car, AMG punched the block out to a 6.9L, which was capable of generating 346 hp. Not too shabby for a 4000-pound luxury sedan. The only queues to hint at the performance is the five-spoke wheels and subtle aero work.
While not the rarest AMG-tuned Merc, with 7380 built, this car is undeniably cool. The performance is unrivaled by anything in its class at the time and subtle styling upgrades make it look tough as hell without being showy. If it stays within the auction estimate, that almost seems a bargain for the cool factor alone.
In its time, the CL600 was already one of the most powerful road going Mercs you could lay your hands on. Powered by a 6.0L version of Mercedes’ famous M120-Series V-12, these cars made an astonishing 389 hp. We tend to look back from today’s mega horsepower cars and scoff at that, but that was impressive in 1998. And if that wasn’t enough, AMG had a solution. It would happily punch the engine out another liter and tune it into a 500-hp monster.
As tempting as this treatment sounds, only an estimated 24 CL600 buyers sprung for this upgrade. That makes this car not only an incredible find, the relatively low estimate makes it the best buy for the horsepower in the entire auction.