The 9 coolest vehicles from Mercedes’ high-performance arm, including a gull-wing racer and a boat with 6 engines

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


  • Mercedes and its performance arm, AMG, have made extremely cool cars over the decades.
  • They are all variations of the same theme: regular cars but tuned to be sportier and more powerful than before.
  • There’s also a Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing boat with six engines.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

You might know Mercedes as the sort of car your suburban neighbor with the well-kept lawn takes to the farmer’s market on Wednesdays. But that’s hardly the only thing the German automaker puts out into the world.

Mercedes has a rich history in racing, its modern sports cars are a force to be reckoned with, it has a wildly successful Formula One team, and it offers a truly over-the-top Cigarette Racing boat with six engines — you know, in case the first five break down. 

But much of Mercedes’ current greatness comes marked side by side with “AMG.” Today, AMG is known as Mercedes’ high-performance arm, giving us cars like the gull-wing SLS AMG and various other sporty models. 

Mercedes-Benz may have been founded in 1926, but the story of AMG doesn’t start until almost 40 years after that in the 1960s.

The three letters of AMG stand for two men, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher — “A” for Aufrecht, “M” for Melcher, and “G” for Großaspach, the town in which Aufrecht was born. 

Aufrecht and Melcher were ex-Mercedes engineers who enjoyed tuning existing Mercedes cars and racing them on weekends, according to Gear Patrol. In 1967, the two founded “Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach Ingenieurbüro, Konstruktion und Versuch zur Entwicklung von Rennmotoren” which translates to “Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach engineering firm, design and testing for the development of racing engines.”

The duo quickly established themselves to be very good at race-tuning engines. During the 1971 24 Hours of Spa, their AMG Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 took second place to the surprise of many

The relationship between AMG and Mercedes-Benz flourished after that. Here are some of Mercedes and AMG’s greatest hits throughout the years.

Here, you can see Erhard Melcher working on an engine during the early days of AMG.

Erhard Melcher working on an engine in the early days of AMG

Erhard Melcher.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


This is the AMG Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8, which took second place at the 1971 24 Hours of Spa.

AMG 300 SEL 6.8

AMG 300 SEL 6.8.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The 300 SEL was never intended for racing, but that didn’t stop AMG.

AMG Rennsport 300 SEL 6.8

AMG Rennsport 300 SEL 6.8.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It stuck a massively powerful engine into a hulking sedan that had no business on a race track. This became the AMG way of doing things.

AMG Mercedes Rennsport 300 SEL 6.8.

AMG Rennsport 300 SEL 6.8.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Only five examples were built: two test cars and three race cars. Its nickname? “The Red Pig.”

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG (W 109), 1971

1971 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Pictured here is an authentic reconstruction, as the original was sold to an aircraft company, which in turn destroyed it for testing purposes. Sad.

AMG 300 SEL 6.8

1971 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Today, AMG is very much a part of Mercedes.

Mercedes-AMG engine manufacturing

Mercedes-AMG engine manufacturing.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Aufrecht transferred a majority stake in his rapidly expanding company to DaimlerChrysler AG in 1999, and AMG then became Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

Mercedes AMG cars

AMG and Mercedes cars.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


AMG has independent engineers and contracts with other companies to customize Mercedes-AMG cars.

Mercedes-AMG Showroom in Affalterbach

Mercedes-AMG showroom in Affalterbach.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The company is headquartered in Affalterbach, Germany.

Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach. Aerial view

Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach. Aerial view.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


AMG V8 engines abide by the “one man, one engine” philosophy — that is, each one is hand built by just one person.

Mercedes-AMG V8 engine manufacturing

Mercedes-AMG V8 engine manufacturing.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The very first car developed jointly between Mercedes-Benz and AMG was the 1993 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It was based on Mercedes’ four-door C-Class model. Production lasted from 1993 to 1997.

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It was powered by an inline-six cylinder engine.

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


And just look at those five-spoke monoblock wheels!

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG

Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Of course, because enough is never enough, AMG announced an even more upgraded version of its cars in the form of the Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Reserved exclusively for two-door cars, the Black Series treatment includes weight reduction, better handling, more powerful engines, and improved performance.

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The first Black Series model was the mid-2000s Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series, which made about 400 horsepower.

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It was never imported to the US.

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


After that came the second Black Series model, the CLK 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It was based on the official Formula One safety car.

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


And it had a fire-breathing, 500-horsepower, 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8.

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Based on the CLK 63 AMG, the Black Series had huge fenders and no back seats for weight savings.

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-AMG CLK 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Then came the SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It’s a seriously wicked-looking thing, with fenders as wide as park benches.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Only 350 were ever made, making it very rare indeed.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


From a twin-turbocharged V12 (!), it made enough power that could pull down a house.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The output: 661 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Its price when new in 2008 came out to around $300,000.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The C-Class was next to get Black Series treatment in the form of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series, which arrived for the 2012 model year.

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Keeping to Black Series tradition, only the coupe version the C-Class was available as a Black Series model.

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


From a naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter V8 came more than 500 horsepower.

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Currently, the last Black Series offered was the SLS Black Series in 2014.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The regular SLS already had a powerful V8 engine and iconic gull-wing doors, inspired by the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” coupe from the 1950s.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The SLS AMG put out more than 600 horsepower. Even years after its launch, it’s still awesome.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Black Series.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


In 2017, Mercedes unveiled the Mercedes-AMG One with Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes-AMG ONE

Mercedes-AMG ONE.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The interior is super minimalist and completely driver-focused, taking cues from an F1 cockpit.

Mercedes-AMG ONE

Mercedes-AMG ONE.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


The Mercedes-AMG One is powered by a hybrid system that includes one internal combustion engine and four electric motors.

Mercedes-AMG ONE and Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes-AMG ONE and Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


Total system output is claimed to be more than 1,000 horsepower.

Mercedes AMG ONE

Mercedes AMG ONE.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


And let us not forget Mercedes-AMG’s tendency to dabble in boats, affectionately recognized by some (me) as the cars of the sea.

Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing boat

Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing boat.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It has six 450-horsepower, supercharged Mercury Racing V8 outboard engines. That amounts to 2,700 horsepower.

Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing's Tirranna AMG

Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing’s Tirranna AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


It costs $3 million. Here it is, sitting pretty with a special-edition Mercedes-AMG G 63.

Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing's Tirranna AMG

Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing’s Tirranna AMG.

Mercedes-Benz AG/Daimler AG


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