This Red Pig is a born again AMG race replica
Today, AMG is the official racing arm of Mercedes-Benz and manufacturer of its weaponized road cars, but back in the 1970s the Affalterbach-based company was just a small tuning outfit.
Founders Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher had both worked on 300 SE racing engines at Daimler-Benz, and decided to go independent, quickly building a reputation among privateer racing teams.
In 1971 AMG decided to build its own race car. Taking the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL and its 6.3-liter V-8 as a starting point, the German gentlemen transformed this opulent sedan into a beast of a touring car. The engine was bored out to 6.8 liters, increasing power to over 400 hp, and the slushbox was replaced by a manual transmission. It was lightweighted by replacing the doors with aluminum, and wide fender flares were added to cope with the girth of racing rubber on 15-inch wheels. A roll cage was installed, together with racing bucket seats. Finally it was painted bright red.
On its debut at the 1971 24 Hours of Spa the AMG 300 SEL was dubbed the “Red Pig“, and it proved to be quite the animal, winning its class and coming home an outright second behind a much lighter and nimbler Ford Capri. This exceptional first outing cemented AMG’s reputation and led to the firm’s expansion into road car tuning, engine building and world-dominating racing.
The Red Pig itself only lasted two further races. At Hockenheim it crashed, was subsequently repaired and raced for a final time at the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 1972, but failed to finish. AMG sold the car to France’s Matra where, bizarrely, it was used in the development of aircraft tires. It’s believed that the car was scrapped at some point in the 1990s.
That’s not the end of the story, however, as Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors of Böblingen, Germany, will happily build you a brand new Red Pig replica. Starting out with a 1967–1971 300 SEL 6.3 this tribute to the original AMG racer really looks the part, even if it isn’t quite up to the same levels of performance.
The engine stays at 6.3-liters and makes 250 hp, and you can choose a ZF five-speed manual transmission or keep the standard automatic. You can also opt for lowered sports suspension or stick with the wafty air ride as originally supplied. The bodywork receives the correct wheelarch extensions, bright red paintwork and period sponsor stickers, while inside all is trimmed in black leather, including the tasty bucket front seats. Strangely the rear seats remain in place although passengers might not take to the positioning of the race harnesses or the way the roll cage restricts headroom.
Bechtel built its first Red Pig replica as a commission for a Korean customer, but it has subsequently seen demand rise to the point where five are being assembled every year. It takes around nine months to complete a “new” Pig, and the price is from $400,000—good value considering that first example sold for $521,000 at RM Sotheby’s in Paris in 2020. Long live the swine!