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20 Best AMG-Tuned Mercedes-Benz Cars Ever Made

Vukasin HerbezOctober 7, 2017

Even if you are not a car enthusiast, you have probably heard about AMG. It was a renowned Mercedes tuning department responsible for some of the fastest and coolest Mercedes cars ever made. But if you are a car fan, AMG is much more than just three letters. It is a legend among tuning circles and one of the most successful outfits in the car industry ever. This is the company that started from a humble workshop.

It went on to conquer the automotive world with its fantastic products, quality and power. The legend of AMG starts in 1967 when friends and ex-Mercedes engineers, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher formed a small tuning and repair shop near Stuttgart. They called the company AMG by taking the first letters of each last name. They added a “G” from the first letter of Grosaspach, where Hans Aufrecht was born.

The only thing that set the AMG apart was the vision of the fast three-pointed star cars the two friends shared. Back in the day nobody tuned Mercedes cars. Mercedes was considered a comfortable and luxurious automobile with strong but not sporty engines. But that was to change soon when AMG entered the world of tuned cars in a big way.

This list contains the best and most important AMG models that helped Mercedes cement its position in the market. They won numerous races that turned AMG from a small workshop in rural Germany to a world-famous, respected name in tuning. So read on to learn more about the 20 best AMG-tuned cars from Mercedes-Benz.

1. Mercedes 300 SEL W109 6.8 Rote Sau

Back in the late 1960s, Mercedes took a big leap forward by introducing a 300 SEL 6.3 version of their luxury sedan, the W109. This was arguably the first power sedan for the company. It had a mighty 6.3-liter V8 engine with 250 HP and 434 lb-ft of torque under the hood. This engine transformed the slow and stately-looking sedan into a real hot rod that could outrun the Porsche 911.

However, that was not good enough for AMG. In early 1971, the AMG team started preparing their version of 300 SEL 6.3 with the intention of racing. First, AMG stroked the engine to 6.8 liters of displacement to get over 420 HP out of it. Second, they made room for big rear tires and put a roll cage inside. They even left the rear seats in. They named the red 300 SEL with the 6.8-liter engine the Rote Sau, meaning Red Pig.

This was because it was big, heavy and red in color. The car had a lot of potential despite being the total opposite of a regular racing car. The biggest success that opened the door for AMG was 24 Hours of Spa in 1971, where Red Pig finished second overall, which was a fantastic success and the biggest surprise of the racing season.

Making second place meant that an almost amateur racing team with a heavy sedan with rear seats still managed to beat numerous factory racing teams and professional drivers with those specially prepared racing cars. Clearly, the guys at AMG had a great idea.

2. Mercedes 300 SL AMG

One of the most sought-after classic cars in the world today is the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing. They only created 1,400 of them in the late 1950s, so those cars are not only preciously rare, but they are also extremely important for racing history and the Mercedes heritage. So, the price of over one million dollars is understandable.

But, back in the early ’70s, those 300 SL coupes were only old sports cars, not worth much and outdated compared to contemporary cars. One of the first AMG customers happened to own one of those coupes and took it to an AMG workshop for a total refurbishment. They modified almost every panel and replaced the whole drivetrain.

They took out the old straight-six engine and replaced it with the 4.5-liter V8 from the 450 SE sedan. Today’s car enthusiasts may consider something like this a sacrilege, but back in the early ’70s, nobody really cared.

AMG was the first company to successfully make a “restomod” car. Since then, they produced 11 cars for clients that wanted their 300 SLs modernized. The most popular option was putting a then-modern 5.5-liter supercharged V8 under the hood of a classic.

3. Mercedes 500 SEC

During the 1980s, AMG continued to produce tuned Mercedes models, but on a smaller scale. They focused on making the most money on aftermarket components like bumpers, spoilers and similar details. However, if you wanted, you could order a fully-prepared car from AMG at a high price. However, the specifications of that vehicle would be much better than any factory Mercedes product of the time.

In those days, Mercedes produced a beautiful coupe based on the W126 S-Class with the 5.0-liter V8 engine. After AMG`s modifications, the 500 SEC AMG had 340 HP, new handling and an aero package, better brakes and exhaust systems. The secret was in the new cylinder head with four valves per cylinder which AMG developed specifically for that engine. It provided more power and better airflow than the stock item from Mercedes.

4. Mercedes 190 AMG

Even though Mercedes asked Cosworth to design and engineer their famous 190 2.3 16V model, sparking the fierce DTM racing wars, AMG was behind most racing teams. By the mid-80s, AMG had a close relationship with the Mercedes top brass. This meant the Mercedes managers could depend on the AMG team to do some specific and sensitive tasks.

Since Mercedes had a racing ban and DTM championship was extremely important to the factory, AMG jumped in to lead the team. They prepared the cars and provided support for other private racing teams that used Mercedes products. Of course, AMG was too proud not to introduce the package for the Cosworth 190 2.5 16V model and that version produced 30 HP more.

5. Mercedes W124 The Hammer

Mercedes introduced their mid-size W124 sedan in 1984 and AMG immediately started working on this platform. At first, the idea was to tune the existing 3.0-liter six-cylinder. But, they decided to transplant the big 5.0-liter from the S-Class and SEC coupe models into a smaller W124 sedan. The idea was crazy, but it worked perfectly. They gave the W124 V8 power delivering 365 HP. It also had an automatic transmission, a stiff suspension, and subtle exterior modifications.

Other than bigger wheels and a small spoiler in the back, nobody could tell there was a monster under the hood. Called “The Hammer,” this W124 AMG could accelerate as fast as a Ferrari Testarossa at 5.3 seconds to 60 mph. Yet it could provide all comforts and space you would expect from a Mercedes product. The price was high, as you would expect, but AMG managed to sell enough vehicles to justify the investment.

6. Mitsubishi Galant AMG

You may think this is a mistake. How could this list include Mitsubishi when it’s talking about AMG and Mercedes? Well, the ’80s were strange times. At one point, Mitsubishi approached AMG with a proposal to help develop and design their models.

The first car out of that collaboration was the Mitsubishi Debonair 3000, which only got AMG’s cosmetic upgrades. However, the second car was the 1989 Galant AMG. It got much more in form of an upgraded 2.0-liter engine with 170 HP. It proved popular in Japan and helped promote the company in that market.

7. Mercedes C36 AMG

The early ’90s marked the beginning of a new era for AMG. First, the company signed a contract with Mercedes stating that all AMG products have a Mercedes-backed warranty. The contract also stated they could sell and service them through the official global Mercedes dealer network.

This opened the door for AMG in terms of approaching more customers. It also meant they could promote their products to an audience that wasn’t aware of AMG as a brand. The company invested in bigger facilities and started preparing for the production of the C36 AMG. The C36 AMG was in many ways a groundbreaking model for AMG.

It was the first AMG model Mercedes officially sold and serviced, as well as the first one they made in big numbers. In fact, in three years from 1993 to 1996, they produced around 5,400 of them. This model featured signature AMG styling with elegant wheels and subtle differences. The power came from the straight-six with an AMG-designed head and 280 HP. This may not be much by today’s standards, but 25 years ago, it was a big output for a small sedan.

8. Mercedes 73 SL AMG

As an integral part of the Mercedes Benz company from the late ’90s, AMG had access to all Mercedes models and development resources. So, it started to expand to all classes including the famous and well-known SL range. Since the SL always had a special place in Mercedes’s nomenclature, AMG had to take extra care of this model.

The factory 6.0-liter V12 engine wasn’t good enough, so AMG tuned it to 7.3-liters with the power output of 525 HP. It basically was a supercar they disguised as a luxury roadster. However, the price was high and availability was limited, so AMG only made 85 of them. Interestingly, the engine lived on in the Pagani Zonda supercar and as an experienced engineer, Horacio Pagani praised its power and torque.

9. Mercedes CLK GTR

In the late 1990s, Mercedes was on the wings of success and enjoying its new-found performance image, courtesy of AMG. With their market success came the need for racing, so Mercedes set its sights on the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race. To participate in the 1997 Le Mans 24h, Mercedes needed a car and that was AMG`s task.

Soon, AMG prepared a fully operational prototype with a 6.9-liter V12, highly sophisticated mechanics, and an aerodynamic package. According to the rules, Mercedes had to build at least 25 road-going versions before it was free to race. So, AMG produced 20 coupes and six roadsters all with a race-prepared 612 HP V12 engine in the back.

The cost of new CLK GTR was over 1.5 million dollars, which earned it the title of the world’s most expensive passenger car in 1998. Unfortunately, the CLK GTR was not successful in racing. So, soon they canceled the racing car class and the car became obsolete, but it’s still a highly valued collector’s item.

10. Mercedes G55 AMG

Although AMG produced the ML55 AMG as the first super SUV from Stuttgart, nobody expected the company would attempt to introduce its version of the venerable G-Class off-roader. First, the G-Class was and still is a dinosaur among modern SUVs since it is almost 40 years old with unchanged mechanics and design.

But AMG had a different idea and in 2003, they introduced the G55 AMG, which proved to be a sales hit. The AMG team changed the driving dynamics and performance of this boxy off-roader. With the 5.5-liter supercharged V8 engine, 500 HP and sub 6 second 0 to 60 mph times, AMG transformed an ex-military machine into a Ferrari-beating terror car. Since then, AMG has continued to produce high-powered G-Class models with the G63 AMG and G65 AMG.

11. Mercedes R63 AMG

With each new product, AMG seems to set the limits further. Ever since Mercedes fully acquired it in 2005, they’ve wanted to use the name and performance expertise on basically all models. So, car enthusiasts got the R63 AMG.

If you are not familiar with the R-Class, it is a big minivan based on the S-Class sedan, equipped with all conceivable luxuries and powerful engines. It is perfect for crossing continents in the comfort of a leather sofa traveling at 100 mph. However, AMG had something to say about that. They introduced the R63 with a fantastic 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8 and 503 HP.

With a stiffer suspension, tons of power and great performance, the R63 was no ordinary minivan but a sports car with room for seven people. This was the perfect example of a glorious engine AMG installed in a car that was not adequate, but the R63 simply didn’t grab the market.

12. Mercedes SLS AMG

The SLS AMG is one of the greatest sports cars of our time. This bold claim is supported by several aspects. First, AMG built it from scratch using the top Mercedes research and development experts, who were among the best in the business.

Second, they designed the chassis, transaxle system and suspension using the most advanced materials and techniques available. Third, it had the sublime 6.2-liter V8 under its long hood. And fourth, the Gullwing doors opened the same way as they did on the 1955 Mercedes 300 SL some 55 years before.

The car was destined for success and it blew every car journalist’s mind in the testing phase. If you don’t count the CLK GTR, this was the first fully AMG-developed passenger car they built in significant numbers. It also showed the sports car world what exactly AMG is capable of, too.

13. Mercedes A45 AMG

When you think of AMG, the first thing that pops into your mind is fast coupes, sedans or perhaps SUVs. That is all correct, but since 2013, AMG has produced a proper hot hatch model that also happens to be one of the best cars in its class. Mercedes introduced the A-Class as their super-compact model back in 1996 and in 2013 introduced its third generation. The first models from the late ’90s are strange-looking, but the latest generation has evolved into a great-looking premium compact.

However, AMG has a different vision. First, they developed a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 365 HP. Next, they designed an all-wheel-drive system with a seven-speed automatic transmission. And finally, they packed it into the aggressive-looking hot hatch that can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with one of the craziest engine notes ever.

14. Mercedes AMG GT

After the success of the SLS AMG, Mercedes decided to attack its neighbor from another side of Stuttgart, Porsche. Knowing that Porsche`s main sports car was the everlasting 911, Mercedes thought that a smaller, lighter and more conventional version of the SLS would keep up with the venerable 911.

That is why AMG presented the GT, a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8-powered coupe or roadster with better performance, more power and higher top speeds than most 911 versions. With fantastic driving dynamics and several versions, the AMG GT is not only a successful sports car but also a championship-winning race car with the AMG GT3 version.

15. Aston Martin DB 11

An Aston Martin on the best AMG cars list? How could that be? It’s easy, thanks to the new Gran Turismo model from the legendary Aston Martin. It features an engine AMG engineered and developed. By agreement between the two factories, AMG is helping Aston produce world-class engines and their new power plant is just that.

Their new V8 engine is a 4.0-liter unit with 503 HP and 489 lb-ft of torque. Even though Aston engineered its own V12 engine for the new DB 11, the AMG-sourced V8 is a part of the offer. As expected, it delivers a fantastic performance. The 0 to 60 mph time is around four seconds and top speed is well over 180 mph.

16. AMG Project 1

The latest and greatest car by AMG is out of this world. They introduced the Project I a couple of weeks before at the Frankfurt Motor Show. This car is, in fact, the future of hypercars with F1 technology just for street use with gorgeous bodies.

Under the carbon fiber body panels, there is a 1.6-liter V6 engine straight out of a Formula One car paired with four electric engines. The power output of the gasoline V6 engine is an unbelievable 670 HP. The total output with the electric engines is over 1,000 HP, which is insane. AMG didn’t release much information about this car, but the top speed is well over the 200-mph mark, but car fans can only speculate on the 0 to 60 mph times.

You can expect this hypercar will conquer all Nürburgring track records and claim the title of the world’s fastest production car soon. In addition, rumors are that all examples of the Project I are already spoken for at this time.

17. Mercedes E55 AMG

In the early ’90s, AMG stopped being just another Mercedes tuner and became a part of the company which meant expansion. They had access to the Mercedes engineering facilities and expanded their lineup. But in the late ’90s, they introduced the first widely popular and “massively” produced AMG model as the perfect definition of a German muscle sedan.

It was the Mercedes E55 AMG. With 349 HP and 391 lb-ft of torque, E55 AMG could accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 5.4 seconds. That was late ’90s Porsche Turbo territory. AMG built over 12,000 examples, making them relatively plentiful today.

18. Mercedes W123 AMG

The W123 series of Mercedes sedan is well-known around the world as one of the most durable and elegant executive sedans of the period. Since it was a Mercedes product, AMG had it in their workshop and the result was the Mercedes W123 280 AMG.

The 2.8-liter twin-cam engine was thoroughly upgraded as well as the suspension and aerodynamics. And the stately-looking sedan now delivered 210 HP and exciting performance. Buyers could get the car with or without the graphics package, which was late ’70s looking.

19. Mercedes G63 AMG 6×6

The Mercedes G-Class is one of the longest-running models in the car world. First emerging in 1979 as a primarily military off-road SUV and truck, it is still on the market with the same basic design. So, how did AMG improve it?

They just attached a pickup truck bed and installed one more axle. This made it the fastest, most expensive and rarest 6X6 in the world. Under the hood is the 5.5-liter twin-turbo engine with 540 HP. It delivers power to all six wheels through a specially built automatic transmission unit.

20. Mercedes SL63 AMG Black Series

If you think that SL-Series cars are comfy cruisers for retired bankers and lawyers, just look at the SL 63 AMG Black Series. This highly exclusive series of specially prepared and tuned cars have almost nothing in common with the regular SL models.

AMG installed bigger turbos, a different suspension and a stripped cabin. And the fully functional aero package resembled racing cars from Le Mans. Amazingly, the AMG Black Series delivered 670 HP and a whopping 737 lb-ft of torque.

AMG has changed the face of performance cars around the world. If you are in the market for one of these cars, you’d better start shopping. With their limited production numbers, you will need to look long and hard to find one of these beauties.

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