The tuning powerhouse from Stuttgart is no stranger to producing class leading performance machines of today. A closer look at the car that put AMG on the global map and ended up gaining acceptance as an in house tuning company of Mercedes is a rather unconventional one. AMG is the combination of two Mercedes engineers Hans Werner Aulfrecht and Erhard Melcher. Both Aulfrecht and Melcher, were well versed with the intricacies in engineering of Mercedes cars and had a deep seated passion for racing. As a weekend hobby they would tinker away at Mercedes cars making them more powerful and lighter for racing applications.
Above: The Red Pig at the 2017 ING Ardennes Rally, Belgium
As their work on Mercedes cars increased, they were struck with the idea of participating in the 24 hours of Spa and truly put their ingenuity to test. What followed was a ridiculously bold attempt in proving wrong a few popular taboos of racing. They decided to participate in the 24 Hours of Spa in the most unlikely of cars, a Mercedes Benz 300 SEL. Faced with criticism of using a extremely heavy and luxurious car for racing when the rest of their oppositions were racing small nimble and lightweight cars. To add the incredible amount of fuel consumption the Mercedes Benz 300 SEL was popularly known for meant they had literally all odds against them.
At AMG’s maiden race of 1971 24 Hours of Spa, they had made very few changes to the Mercedes Benz 300 SEL chassis, they had done very basic bit of weight saving by removing the heavy bumpers and added a roll cage for added stiffness and safety. The major change however was under the hood, the wheezy 2.8-litre straight six engine was swapped for Mercedes’s more powerful 6.3-litre V8. The 6.3-litre V8 sourced from the luxurious 600 was further bored out and stroked to a displacement of 6.8-litre and produced a staggering 428 horsepower and 448 lb-ft (607Nm) of torque, making the Mercedes Benz 300 SEL the most powerful car on the grid.
As though the incredibly big stature of the Mercedes Benz 300 SEL in comparison to its competitors wasn’t attention seeking enough, they decided to colour in bright red colour. This red fat beefy look of the car earned it the name of “The Red Pig”. AMG’s idea of making a lasting impression and their confidence in their machinery saw them leave the sumptuously luxurious interiors of the Mercedes Benz 300 SEL as it is. According to AMG the luxurious interiors of the car was part of its character which they didn’t want to discard.
Surprisingly enough beating all odds of fuel consumption, tire wear and reliability, the Red Pig won in its class and finished second overall. It was quite a feat achieved by the duo that called themselves AMG. Apart from visits to the pits for fuel and tyre change the car was the most reliable machine on the track. This win against all odds had the whole world sit up and take notice of AMG, in fact the Mercedes bosses were so impressed by AMG that they decided to collaborate with them and make it an in-house tuning partner of Mercedes.
Further Reading: 50-Years of Mercedes AMG
AMG hasn’t looked back ever since, winning regularly at the DTM (German Touring Car racing), GT racing and even Formula 1 world titles for 3 continuous years on the trot. Even today looking at the Mercedes team crank up the performance a few clicks in Qualifying at any Formula One Grand Prix, you can’t help but experience a nostalgic run down of the memory lane and rejoice the expertise AMG got to the Mercedes team.