Mercedes-Benz 450SLC – World Rally Championships History


Starting in 1973, the World Rally Championship (WRC) is considered the world’s most challenging motorsport in the world.   It pits drivers and production based cars against some of the toughest and most varied conditions on the planet.

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In 2016, the roads on this epic motorsport adventure are spread across more than 15 countries, with 14 rallies on everything from snow packed forest tracks to rock-strewn mountain passes.”

How a Rally works

Each rally features a number (typically between 15 and 25) of timed sections – known as stages – run on closed roads.

Drivers battle one at a time to complete these stages as quickly as possible, with timing down to 1/10th second. Along the way, a co-driver reads detailed pace notes that explain what is coming up ahead. Competitors drive to and from each stage on public roads, observing normal traffic regulations.

Most rallies follow the same basic itinerary. This starts with two days of ‘reconnaissance’ where driver and co-driver practise the route, at limited speed, to make pace notes. It is followed by ‘shakedown’ – a full speed test of their rally car – with the competition proper running for three days from Friday to Sunday.

Because rallies go on for several days, competitors visit a ‘service park’ at pre-determined points to allow technicians to perform mechanical work on each car. Service time is strictly limited, with each stop being either 10, 30 or 45 minutes. At the end of each day’s competition, cars are held in a secure parc ferme.

Away from the service park, only the driver and co-driver can work on their car, using only tools and spare parts carried on board.”

1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC Rally Type Car
This is the Go-Mercedes restoration of the exact model 450SLC 5.0, 1979-1980 that was run in the following rallies.

1978 Rally of South America

1978 - WRC - World Rally Championship Route - South America

The SLC has a fascinating history on the international rally circuit.  One particularly epic rally was held for five grueling weeks In 1978 across the entire continent of South America.  The race featured four SLCs and four 280Es for an incredible 17,875 mile of 28,600 km.  The winners were Andrew Cowan and Colin Malkin who won the event with a 450SLC.  Another SLC finished in second place driven by Sobieslaw Zazada and Andrzej Zemrzuki.  Fourth place went to Timo Makinen and Jean Todt .

Andrew Cowan when asked what he thought of the 450SLC in competition, he said: “It’s very comfortable and most enjoyable!  I think the Mercedes has a major disadvantage because of its weight, but it’s very, very strong – it’s unbelievable how you can go over rough roads.”

Andrew Cowan making his way through a water splash, with another Mercedes 450SLC bringing up the rear
Andrew Cowan in his 450SLC working his way through a deep water splash, with yet another 450SLC Mercedes coming right behind him in the South American rally.

Zazada tackling the unbelievable conditions encountered on the Rally of South America in 1978
The Mercedes-Benz 450SLC sawing its way through incredibly rough terrain.  Drivers raced  across the entire continent of South America for five grueling weeks.  This car was driven by Sobieslaw Zazada and Andrzej Zemrzuki finishing the 17,875 mile in second place.

1979 Bandama Rally

Four Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 models started the race. The cars were:

Car #3: Driven by Vic Preston & Mike Doughty
Car #4: Bjorn Waldegaard & Hans Thorszelius
Car #6: Hannu Mikkola & Arne Herz
Car #10: Andrew Cowan & Klaus Kaiser

Team Mercedes Benz at Bandama Rally Race of 1979Team Mercedes-Benz on a brief maintenance stop at the Bandama Rally.  Note the cars coated from head to toe with dust from the Ivory Coast.

Mercedes-Benz Bandama Rally Photo Ivory Coast Night Time Service Stop
Nighttime service stop for one of the Mercedes in the Bandama Rally


Bandama Rally Race - 1979 - Ivory Coast Mercedes-Benz 45SL
Mikkola taking a fast moment to stretch during a service stop during the 1979 Bandama Rally.  The car on the left is a Mercedes-Benz W123 that was acting as a service tender.

The Mercedes-Benz team absolutely led the race from the very beginning to the end with all four cars in winning positions.  Hannu Mikkola & Arne Herz finished in first place.  Bjorn Waldegaard & Hans Thors azelius finished in second place.  Andrew Cowan & Klaus Kaiser finished in third place.  Vic Preston & Mike Doughty finished in fourth place.  Still a good two hours ahead of the next car which was a Toyota.

The Mercedes-Benz team celebrate across the board wins from First to Fourth place in the Bandama Ivory Coast Rally of 1979.

The Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 was the first 8-cylinder car to win a World Rally Championship event, and also the very first to win with an automatic transmission.  Waldegaard’s second place win was enough to also give him the World Drivers’ Championship.

Mercedes Benz 450SL Team Celebrating Victory
Hannu Mikkola(right) & Arne Herz celebrating their victory


1979 Safari Rally – Africa

The Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 was homologated just in time for the African Safari Rally in 1979.    Just what does homologation mean? For motor racing sports,  it is the approval process that a vehicle is required to go through in order to be certified to run in a series.  In this case, the regulations and rules that must be met were set by the World Rally Championship sanctioning body.

The cars were outfitted with aluminum panels and also lighter gauge steel where it was safe to do so. There were three 5.-litre SLCs entered in the race.

Car #6 – Vic Preston Jr & John Lyall
Car #10 – Bjorn Waldegaard & Hans Thorszelius
Car #14 – Hannu Mikkola & Arne Hertz

They were supported by a large stockpile of spare parts, and even two spare cars a S-D1906 and a S-DP 1907.

Hannu Mikkoda - 1979 Safari Rally - World Rally Championships
Hannu Mikkola hammering it down to win second place in the 1979 African Safari Rally

African Safari Rally 1979 - Mercedes-Benz 450SLC
Bjorn Waldegaard making sure the servicing of his car is going well during the African Safari Rally of 1979.

Mikkola and Waldegaard were both in the lead at various stages of the 3144 mile event.  At the end of the rally in Nairobi, Mikkola finished in second, with Waldegaard coming in sixth, and Andrew Cowan in a 280E coming in fourth.

Mikkola Hannu
Car #14 – Hannu Mikkola – Mercedes-Benz 450SLC
Finished 2nd Place

Andrew Cowan
Car #16 – Andrew Cowan – Mercedes-Benz 280E
Finished 2nd Place

Car #10 – Bjorn Waldegaard – Mercedes-Benz 450SLC
Finished 6th Place

Mercedes-Benz Rare Rally Model Car 450 SLC 5.0 -1979-1980

img_2398 img_2406

Here is another member of the restoration lineup. This is a rare Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC – R107, 1980, one of only 300 ever brought into the United States with European bumpers and specs.  It is an official gray market car . At the time the  Mercedes-Benz SLC was one of the most expensive cars that had built.   To own one at the time really meant that you absolutely had made it in the world.

The 1979 models were introduced to the public in September of 1978.  The 450SLC was priced at $36,738.00.  For 1978 $100.00 = $366.23 in 2016.  That would mean the car’s sold in 1978 for an equivalent of $138,207 in today’s dollars.

It features pillarless windows which means no obstruction when the windows are down providing great visibility and air flow. (There are no upright structural supports to block the view.)   It also has louvre windows in the back. The trunk and hood are aluminum to reduce weight on the car. The subtle creases in the hood are beautifully molded which at the time was very difficult to make.

This particular car is the same type of 450SLC that was raced in the spectacular World Rally Championships.  Very few of the 450 SLC – R107 were made.  They were made specifically so that Mercedes-Benz could enter the model in the WRC.

The R107 itself though has the distinction of being the longest production run in the entire Mercedes-Benz history.   The R107 models were also the last series designed by the original team of engineers who had pioneered and nutured the modern Mercedes engineering and performance.

Mercedes-Benz Advertisement 450SLC

Mercedes-Benz 1979 450SLC Advertising
Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 1979-1980 Advertising Brochure

450 SLC Ad2
Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 1979-1980 Advertising Brochure

Video of World Rally Championships  (Note: The Safari Rally in Africa — Mercedes-Benz 450SLC portion begins at 3:04)

Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach

Gottlieb Daimler

Gottlieb Daimler

Gottlieb Daimler was a German engineer fascinated with creating engines to move vehicles of all types.

In 1882, he and his lifelong business partner Wilhelm Maybach worked together in a converted green house on Daimler’s property.   The workshop was an incubator for their ideas and dreams of creating  a movable universal drive system for vehicles on land, on water and in the air.

Wilhelm Maybach
Wilhelm Maybach
They toiled in secrecy and worked day and night on designing and building engines.   The neighbors became suspicious that the two might even be counterfeiting coins as they would  hear all sorts of odd noises in the evening.  They contacted the local police who paid a surprise nocturnal visit.  But the two officers didn’t find money making machines, but instead found the garden house to be full of tools, and parts and prototype engines.

Gottlieb Daimler's Greenhouse
Gottlieb Daimler’s Greenhouse

Daimler and Maybach were left to continue their inventions and project undisturbed.  In 1883 they started work on developing the world’s first high-speed four-stroke engine.  They also designed a horizontal cylinder layout compressed charge liquid petroleum engine that met Daimler’s desire for a high speed engine which could be throttled.  This made it useful for transportation applications. This engine was called “Daimler’s Dream”.
In 1885 they  created their famous “Grandfather clock engine” which was smaller and lighter.

Patent for World's First Motorcycle - Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler’s Patent Drawing for First Motorcyle 1885

The world’s first motorcycle, was Gottlieb Daimler’s four-stroke, single-cylinder engine, which he registered for patent on 3 April 1885. This was a milestone in the history of technology, since the unit was small and powerful compared with other combustion engines of the day for stationary operation.

Daimler’s priority, on the other hand, was the engine’s mobile application.

Two months later they were able to fit the engine into a four wheeled converted carriage.  Daimler applied for a patent for his riding car with “gas or petroleum engine,” as it was described in the patent specification, on 29 August 1885 (German Patent No. DRP 36423 was awarded on 11 August 1886).

Daimler and Maybach’s single cylinder engine the “Grandfather Clock”

The one cylinder engine developed by Daimler and Maybach was fitted into a variety of vehicles including:

1.  Two-wheeled riding car (1885)
2.  Motor boat called Marie (1887)
3. Four seat railway trolley (1887)
4. Waggonet (1887)
5. Wölfert’s motorised airship (1888).

Daimler Universal Engines
From the beginning, Gottlieb Daimler wanted his engines to be as universal as possible.

Gottlieb and Son in first motorized carriage - 1886
Gottlieb Dimeler (passenger) and his son Adolf on the motor carriage 1886.

In August 1890, Daimler shipped the first Wilhelm Maybach-designed four-cylinder engine to New York.

The First Operational Vehicle in the USA
Wilhelm Maybach, had been friends with piano manufacturer William Steinway since 1876.  Steinway had immigrated to America, but returned briefly to Germany inn 1888.  Maybach introduced Steinway to Daimler that year.

William Steinway
William Steinway

Steinway went on to commission the first vehicle engine in the US.   On September 29,  1888, piano manufacturer William Steinway was the first to represent Daimler’s interests in the US.  He established the Daimler Motor Company on Long Island, New York.

Daimler Office in New York Historical Drawing
The Daimler Company in New York

Daimler Motor Classic Ad
Daimler’s Motor Carriage Advertisement

Gottlieb Daimler's exhibitor passes for the 1893 World Expo in Chicago, USA.;
Gottlieb Daimler’s Exhibitor Pass for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893

Promoting the Automobile
Gottlieb showed his first version of an American automobile at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.  At the time Gottlieb was also on his honeymoon with his second wife.

Trivia fact:  Oddly enough Daimler who spent his entire career working on engines didn’t care for driving and was rumored to never have drove an automobile.











History of the Mercedes – & The Go Mercedes Team Fueled Passion

Go is designed for the classic performance Mercedes enthusiast and collector.  We explore the exciting history of the Mercedes-Benz and also go on adventures selecting performance classic Mercedes throughout the country.

We are just as passionate about the Mercedes Benz brand as you are!  Everyone on our team at are long time Mercedes affecianados, collectors or restorers.

Mercedes collectors are inspired by a fierce loyalty. It’s hard to narrow it down to  exactly which qualities of the classic Mercedes cause us to be so obsessed. The older Mercedes of the past have that certain panache that seem unbeatable in the classic collector market.
classic mercedes magazine advertisement

When pressed to explain why we just have to have yet another Mercedes; it can be slightly hard to rationalize to family members.  Any hesitation is thrown to the wind though  when we focus our sights on a potential rare acquisition just a few hundred miles away. It seems when one gets the “Mercedes Bends”  as they say,  we can’t help ourselves.  Perhaps it is the impeccable engineering or absolute perfection in design that draws us in with unbridled enthusiasm.   The extreme attention to detail that Mercedes stylists and car builders of days gone by just seems to outshine other makes produced today.

Best in class engineering” is the Mercedes brand mantra. Stellar performance through perfection  stems from perhaps the founding pioneers themselves Benz and Dailmer.   Even Emil Jelinek drove the Dailmer company nearly berserk with his obsession for speed and perfection.   Both of whom  poured their savings and souls into their life’s work.

Carl Benz


Gottlieb Daimler 1890 photograph
Gottlieb Daimler

In curious synchronicity both men toiled a mere 60 miles away from one another in Germany in 1888 on their own  internal combustion engines.  Unbeknownst to each other their engineering efforts would literally propel the automotive world into the next century.

Excitement was in the air for Carl Benz on New Year’s Eve of 1879 .   On that evening he heard the first sounds of his two stroke engine sputter to life for the very first time.   For his newly developed Benz Patent Motor Car, in 1886 he was granted patent No. 37435 widely considered to be the official “birth certificate of the automobile.”
Benz officially unveiled his invention to the public on July 3rd, 1886, on the Ringstrasse (Ringstraße) in Mannheim. About 25 Patent Motorwagens were built between 1886 and 1893. The original cost of the vehicle in 1885 was $1,000 (equivalent to $26,248 in 2015).

1886 - Benz Motorwagen
1886 Benz Motorwagen

Drawings of the very first automobile developed by Carl Benz

Closeup of Drawings of the Very First Automobile Patent Developed by Carl Benz

Carl Benz Patent for First Motor Car
Benz Patent Motor Car, in 1886, Patent No. 37435

Carl Benz in his Benz Patent Motorwagen
Carl Benz (left) seated in the Benz Patent Motorwagen

Bertha Benz - Financier and first long distance driver of the Benz
Bertha Benz and her two sons with the Patent-Motorwagen in 1888.

Bertha Benz – Financier and First Distance Driver of the Patent Motorwagen

The world owes a debt of gratitude to Carl Benz’s wife Bertha Ringer Benz.   Benz later wrote in his memoirs after his marriage on July 20, 1872: “With this step, an idealist is at my side who knows what she wants, from the small and narrow to the grand, clear and vast.”

Supporting all her husband’s activities and sharing his pioneering spirit, Bertha Benz turns out to be a key factor in the success of Carl Benz.  A longtime financial supporter of Carl even before marriage, she helped save him many times from financial ruin. She helped to save an iron construction company he had jointly held with an untrustworthy business partner.   Eventually that company went down, but Bertha stepped up again with financial support and provided her considerable business acumen to help him form another manufacturing company called  Benz & Cie.   Through lean times, Bertha was always at the ready and provided enough financial support that  Carl was able to start his dream work of creating a motorized vehicle.

Carl finished his work on his first horseless carriage in December 1885 (he received a patent for it the following year). The single-cylinder, 2.5-horsepower car had three wheels—one in front and two in the back—and could reach a maximum speed of 25 mph.

Carl was apparently not a very good marketer.  In fact his first demostration terrified spectators as the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall.  A notorious perfectionist he retreated from the public eye,  and although he had already developed two of the machines, was starting on a third.  He just didn’t seem to have quite the  confidence to showcase his new inventions to the public.

Bertha understood the dilemma and was becoming somewhat frustrated by Carl’s inability to act on his own.  She also noted that there was increasing pressure from a competitor, Gottlieb Daimler who had invented a horseless carriage of his own— the world’s first four-wheeled, high-speed automobile just a few miles away.

Bertha was a very smart woman who knew the power of marketing.  She instinctively knew that a long trip with the car would gather much attention from the public along the way.    She knew the publicity would help popularize Carl Benz’s latest invention—and likely saved him from professional and financial ruin.

Mrs. Bertha Benz
Bertha (Ringer) Benz – Driver and Mechanic for First Long Distance Automobile Trip

So in  early August of 1888, at age 39, Bertha penned a note telling her husband she was going to drive to her mother’s house.  She gathered her two teenage sons and climbed aboard the third Patent-Motorwagen vehicles her husband had assembled.   One can only imagine their excitement as the three drove from Mannheim through Heidelberg, and Wiesloch.  Just as anticipated, curious spectators gathered for miles to see the three driving about the countryside.   No doubt it was quite a bewildering  sight to see the first motorized vehicle rattling on byy.  Amazing as that was, the fact that the vehicle was being  driven by a woman must of been absolutely astounding.

The trip was in fact really no joy ride.  Bertha Benz was not only the driver, but also improvised as an ever resourceful mechanic.   Along the way a number of difficulties were faced.  An ignition wire short circuited.  Bertha actually used her garter to repair it.  When a fuel pipe got clogged, she used her hat pin to clean it out.  In addition, she was able to convince a blacksmith along the way to help mend a chain that had broken.  The car didn’t have a fuel tank so she carefully manuevered the car to towns with apothecaries that sold a petroleum based cleaning fluid called ligroin.  She put it into the carburetor to keep it running through the journey.  She also had to stop often for water to in order to cool down the engine.   The boys came in handy when the car needed pushing which was probably quite often.    If that wasn’t enough when the brakes began to wear down (basically just pieces of wood) the ever resourceful Mrs. Benz stopped at a local shoemaker to have them nail leather on the brake blocks.  So one can also say she actually was one of the first to invent brake pads as well.

Bertha Benz Formal Photo
Bertha Benz – Financier,  Adventurer and Integral to the Success of the Benz Motorwagen

Another plus came from Bertha’s trip.  Since she and her sons had quite a time going up hills with a 2.5 horse powered car, often resorting to manually pushing the car uphill.  Those difficulties convinced the inventor to make a crucial modification – the introduction of the world’s first gear system.

An Awesome Sight of the Motorwagen

The Motorwagen was a light three-wheeled vehicle, powered by a single-cylinder gasoline engine that got about 25 mpg.   Bertha went the entire distance of about 65 miles in about 12 hours. Around dusk she managed to pull into her hometown of Pforzheim.   She immediately sent a telegram to her husband that she had arrived safely at her mother’s home.  She spent the night at her mother’s house and returned home three days later.   Again another brilliant move on her part,  she chose another route and gathered even more spectators who were fascinated by the vehicle.  The trip covered 194 km (121 mi) in total.

By the time  she returned home, eyewitness accounts were pouring in from the trip.  The news was rushed into print in local newspapers. With Bertha providing a real living proof of concept, Karl immediately rushed one of his other models to a scientific exhibit in Munich.  All in all, she had driven over 120 miles at a time when no other automobile had traveled more than a few dozen feet. Her trip unleashed an avalanche of publicity and the couple began receiving orders for their newfangled contraption almost immediately.  The critics now knew of the vehicle’s reliability and the Benz Patent Motor Car was the talk of the town. The public loved the Motorwagen in Munich and orders began to rush in the door.

Within a decade Karl’s company, Benz & Cie., became the world’s largest automobile company with a full-time staff of more than 400 and annual sales of nearly 600 vehicles.

Benz Factory Photo

Benz Motorwagen Advertisement

Bertha Benz died in 1944 at the ripe age of 95.  She is indeed a heroine of the auto industry one to be celebrated.

Carl Benz with his wife in first automobile
Carl Benz with family



Mercedes-Benz W116SEL – 6.9 Class – a Performance Classic

1978 6.9 Mercedes W116 450 S

We here at welcome our newest car that will be given a thorough restoration by the team. It is a top luxury sedan with an ultra high performance engine.  It is a 1978 Mercedes-Benz limited-production 450 SEL 6.9.

This classic  provides a smooth ride with a self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension.  It is designed for long distance cruising in comfort with more than enough room for a chauffeur, and roomy backseat leg space.  It also has extraordinary performance output.  It can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 7.4 seconds.

450-mercedes-selMagazine Advertisement for the 1978 450 SEL



The 6.9 M-100 engine is the largest most powerful V8 the company offered at the time and is factory rated at 140 mph.  The 6,814-cc V8 engines were hand built and  each bench tested  for 265 minutes, 40 of which under full load.  The engine generates an enormous output of 286 hp (210 kW) at 4250/min and a maximum torque of 56 mkg at 3000/min, providing the car with top-notch sports-car performance.

This fine example of German engineering was meant for the most discriminating of customers in the luxury market. There were only 7,380 of these cars ever built.  It’s formidable engine and luxurious options made it a favorite for tycoons, industrialists, politicans, and celebrities.  In 1978 the it’s last year of production in 1979 it sold for 81,247 DM or $45,703.33 US dollars.  In today’s dollars that equals $167,378.12.

At this particular level of wealth, often a subtle approach is the preferred means of travel.  The car could be ordered with option 261, which meant omitting the displacement figure on the trunk lid. This is exactly the case with this car as the 6.9 designation is not on the back. Those not in the know would never be able to detect the power the formidable engine that sits under the hood.

The W116 automobiles were the first Mercedes-Benz models to be officially called S-Class, although earlier sedan models had already unofficially been designated with the letter ‘S’ – for Sonderklasse or “special class.” The 450 SEL 6.9 W-116 was built on it’s very own dedicated assembly line by Daimler-Benz in Stuttgard, Germany.
The 6.9 also was the first car to debut the anti-lock braking system (ABS) – a safety system  that we take for granted today.

Press review of the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9Automobil Revue, Switzerland, May 15, 1975:

“It is highly gratifying to see that at a time like this, a car appears that offers the highest levels of motoring enjoyment to the connoisseur – at all speeds. The 6.9 bears witness not only to the confidence those responsible have in the future but also to their courage to stand up for their beliefs.”

Car, England, June 1975:
“A car of such speed and weight must have demonstrably good roadholding and handling, and this one is no disappointment in anything from a hairpin to a three-figure bend: the suspension soaks up the bumps, the transmission is wonderfully smooth and admirably easy to control (either by a sensitive accelerator foot or a hasty hand at the lever), and the steering is servo-assisted in a way that highlights the nearly neutral responses of the vehicle.

Auto, Motor Und Sport, Germany, no. 21/1975:
“In measurements carried out by auto motor und sport on this, the most powerful German sedan, we recorded acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds and 28.8 seconds for one kilometer from a standing start. We also registered a top speed of 234 km/h. While these figures are highly remarkable in themselves, the way in which they are reached in the perfect interplay of engine and automatic transmission is even more astounding. Notwithstanding the car’s weight, the overwhelming power of its quiet and smooth engine generates the highest levels of comfort and motoring pleasure.”

Britain’s Classic & Sports Car  – April 1999:
Ranked the Mercedes-Benz 6.9 fourth on their list of the “world’s greatest saloons.”

Mercedes Enthusiast May 2004:
Ranked the 6.9 number fifteen on their all-time top twenty list of great Mercedes-Benz automobiles.

The car’s top speed was factory tested at 140 mph, and weighs in at a substantial 4,200 lbs for comfortable Auto Bahn cruising. For stability it features an impressive self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension. The special hydraulic fluid required by the system is stored in a tank inside the engine compartment. The system is completely self-adjusting, and also ride height can be altered by a dash-mounted push-pull knob under the speedometer.  It can raise the car an additional two inches (50 mm) for increased ground clearance.

1978 6.9 Mercedes W116 450 S

The impressive M100 power plant with 6.9 litre displacement (417 CID) was made from cast iron, a V8 configuration with single overhead camshafts. It used sodium-filled valves (the kind found in piston-driven aircraft) against hardened valve seats on each aluminium alloy cylinder head.

Brock Yates an automotive journalist tested a factory issued 6.9 driving at street level speeds averaging around 72 mph from Manhattan to the Road Atlanta grand prix race track in Georgia.  When he arrived at the grand prix race track he drove it for an additional 40 laps (just about 100 miles).  The journalist reported no problems at all except just a bit of dust on the bodywork from the Michelin radial street tires.  Also the magnetic CB antenna blew off at 130 miles per hour.


Go Mercedes Team Road Trip: Operation Save a 1978 6.9 Mercedes

Go Mercedes Team: Search & Rescue Mission

Date: Sunday, September 18, 2016
Primary Mission:  Save a rare 1978 450 SEL  6.9 Mercedes Benz with Hydraulic Suspension from extinction
Challenge:  Car in the middle of a meadow near an abandoned soup factory and “ghost” 1931 vacation resort called Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales, Florida
Super Challenge:  Trying to live through 100 degree heat,  a bizarre GPS that wouldn’t let us leave a “Bate’s” like motel, not much water and a whole lot of wasps.


Our primary Mercedes obsessionist, (I mean enthusiast), Angelo, had located the car about two months prior through his constant searches throughout the United States.  After connecting with the owner the proper arrangements were made and we were off to collect the newest found treasure.

The morning was bristling with excitement as the Go Mercedes team headed out to save this worthy classic  Mercedes from certain extinction.  We downed plenty of hair raising coffee at the local breakfast joint, gobbled down breakfast and quickly headed out for the central plains of Florida.

Moving quickly due east we headed through the sprawling horse country of Florida.  Upon arrival in Lake Wales our primary objective was to pick up a u-haul trailer to pick up the car.

motel on way to get mercedes

We pulled up to the Grove Motel which just happened to also double as the local u-haul rental establishment.  We nervously joked a little bit about  it’s “distinctive Bates motel ambience”.

As we waited for the u-haul manager to wake up.  It was afterall still 11:00 ish,  we busied ourselves with a little walk around.  We got some curious stares, as a little chihuahua scurred about, and a bored resident pulled wheelies on his bicycle in front of the place.  A little girl came running up excitedly to ask if we were going to move in.  “Naw sorry, we’re just here to rent a u-haul”, we replied.


We were informed that the manager was in room 5 but alas he wasn’t answering the door.  Not sure what to do at that point we continued our informal walkabout.

no vacancy with bullet hole

The Grove Motel is quite popular.  Here’s their official “Sorry No Vacancy” sign.  For added effect, if you look real closely you will see a bullet hole over the “A” in “Vacancy”.  Hmm, not sure whether a guest was thwarted from a cozy night’s stay or someone just didn’t care for the room service.


This sign says it all about what it’s like to stay here.

Finally the u-haul manager appeared scratching his belly and yawning, muttering something about a busted water pipe in the motel.

At last we secured the keys to the u-haul and trailer.  But trying to leave the motel was somewhat like trying to get out of the Bermuda Triangle.  The GPS had the caravan turning around and around and we passed the same Grove Motel sign no less than three times until we figured out we needed to just use common sense to get out.  At last we turned left instead of just doing circles and we were hot on the trail with the fresh scent of a new Mercedes capture filling the air.

About 20 minutes later we had the car within sights.  But we needed to make a pitstop in order to procure essential provisions.  The list included one giant bottle of Orange Crush, licorice whips, and a Mountain Dew super sugar instant diabetes drink.  (Later the purchase did seem rather frivalous on our part.  The 100 degree heat and humidity later proved quite a challenge.  Water  would of been a lot more welcome then a hot orange crush bottle on the floor board of the truck.)

At last making our way down the country road, we pulled  up and got our very first glimpses of the hidden German beauty.

Mercedes 450
Viola, the target: a Mercedes 1978 450 SEL 6.9

There it was, at last.  A 1978 450 SEL 6.9 with hydraulic suspension nestled in the grass.  This particular model in the 1970’s was considered to be at the pinnacle of Mercedes engineering.   In it’s day only a couple of Ferrari’s could match it’s performance.  (Unfortunately weighing in at over 4,500 lbs,  it was introduced right in the middle of the gas crisis in the US.  Oops, so not exactly the best timing market wise.)

450 SEL 1978 Mercedes BenzH
Hidden Treasure:  The Green Bean



adam and angelo happy with their new mercedes find
Adam and Angelo posing with their new find

Figuring out the logistics of pulling the Mercedes 450 SEL onto the trailer
Contemplating the logistics of moving the car out

Adam working his magic to get the 450 SEL Mercede loaded
Adam working his magic to get her loaded.

Affectionately called by the code name “Green Bean” the car was found in a very unusual area. Sleeping for awhile, she was resting in a meadow in  Lake Wales, Florida right next to an old abandoned 1931 chalet style resort, restaurant and soup cannery called Chalet Suzanne.

Chalet Suzanne - Lake Wales, Florida
Chalet Suzanne built in 1931 

This quaint Swiss style hideaway  was once where the rich and famous of the 30’s used to come for gourmet dining and rest.  Complete with it’s own private airstrip, grape vineyard, shooting gallery and soup factory, patrons were once served by waitresses dressed as Swiss maidens.

1931 - antique sign for Chalet Suzanne - Lake Wales Florida
Chalet Suzanne’s carved wooden sign from 1931

This quirky resort was owned by the same family for 81 years.  It recently “retired’ along with its owners in 2014.   Today it sits quietly resting nestled in overgrown flowers and butterflies.

The abandoned boiler area for the soup factory.

The  Mercedes was in nice condition but just happened to  be a bit ornery when it came to being taken out of the meadow. Adam, aka “Atom Bomb” cranked in the hot sun for 2 1/2 hours to get her loaded up onto the trailer.  In addition, the tires were flat and the suspension was decidedly unsuspension-like which didn’t help much in getting it loaded.  But as luck  would have it, Angelo had his trusty Mercedes tire inflator that came standard with his AMG black beauty.   Adam and Angelo were able to jockey the car around using the cigarette lighter powered compressor to fill up the tires enough to get it on the trailer.

Mercedes ready to go
At last the car is loaded and ready to go

Mercedes Benz made it home for restoration
At last we are back at the Go Mercedes Ranch.
Ready for restoration!

Stay tuned for updates!


Extra Bonus Scenes from the Adventure at Lake Wales

more barn find cars
A Ford quietly napping near the barn and in the weeds

old classic car barn finds

Another Mercedes on the property.
Sadly the condition inside & engine is too far gone for restoration
classic car barn finds
View of sleeping beauties from inside the barn

Trees vs Barn

air strip near where the mercedes was
Believe it or not this is an official FAA airport.  
Complete with freshly mowed runway.

Closeup of artwork from Chalet Suzanne
Closeup of exterior tile from Chalet Suzanne

Classic Ford Thunderbird
Classic Ford Thunderbird sitting in grape vineyard

classic car logo


Steering column of classic car
Steering column of Thunderbird


old statue from days gone by
An elegant lady waiting patiently.
Reminder of the glory days of the chalet.

Hawk with a snake he just caught in the lake
A hungry hawk flew past the photographer with his freshly caught dinner from the nearby lake.   

Chalet Suzanne Abandoned Soup Factory - Lake Wales, FloridaA

Assembly line of abandoned soup factory

Distressed Door of Barn where old Mercedes was found
Distressed door inside barn where car was found




Decoding Mercedes-Benz VIN Numbers

VIN numbers or Vehicle Identification Numbers are basically the unique identifying “fingerprints” of a vehicle.  The VIN provides critical information including year of manufacture, where it was built, what type of car it is, and other info.

In the mid 1950’s American car manufacturers began stamping and casting identifying numbers on cars and their parts.  But different makes created different types of VINS.  In the early 1980s the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standardized and began requiring that all road vehicles contain a 17-character VIN.

A VIN will tell you the exact kind of Mercedes you own,  the engine that was put into it a and also when it was built.  The position of each letter or number in the VIN code will reveal important data about where and when your Mercedes was made.

>>>>Model Chassis Engine Guide 1946-1996

1rst Character – identifies the Mercedes vehicle’s country where it was manufactured.
1 or 4 = USA
2 = Canada
3 = Mexico
J = Japan
K = Korea
S = England
W = Germany
Z = Italy

VIN Character 2 = Car Manufacturer Code
D = Mercdes

VIN Character 3 = Vehicle Type or Manufacturing Division

VIN Characters 4-8 = Mercedes features/attributes like body style, engine type, model, series, etc.

VIN Character 9 = Vehicle identification number. VIN accuracy check digit, Verifies the previous numbers within the VIN.  The check digit is a single number or a letter “X” to verify the accuracy of the transcription of the vehicle identification number.

VIN Character 10 = Mercedes model year.
1= 1971
2= 1972
3 = 1973
4 = 1974
5 = 1975
6 = 1976
7 = 1977
8 = 1978
9 = 1979
A = 1980
B = 1981
C = 1982
D = 1983
E = 1984
F = 1985
G = 1986
H = 1987
J – 1988
K = 1989
L = 1990
M = 1991
N = 1992
P = 1993
R = 1994
S = 1995
T = 1996
V = 1997
W = 1998
X = 1999
Y = 2000
1 = 2001
2 = 2002
3 = 2003
4 = 2004
5 = 2005
6 = 2006
7 = 2007
8 = 2008
9 = 2009
A = 2010

11th Character = Assembly plant for the Mercedes

12th-17th Characters – Indicates the sequence of the vehicle for production as it rolled off the manufacturer’s assembly line.  The last four characters are always numeric.  These last six characters are considered the most critical portion of the VIN for more European cars.  Because of mid-year production changes by car makers, these can be vital to identifying the proper part numbers for engine, fuel, and emission component. Often these types of parts are listed with the caveat that they fit vehicles up to a particular VIN or before/after a particular VIN sequence.

How to find a Mercedes’ VIN:
– On the door frame/door post of the front doors (usually driver’s but sometimes passenger’s)
– On the dash near the windshield
– On the engine itself (machined pad on front of engine)
– On the car’s firewall
– In the left-hand inner wheel arch
– On the steering wheel/steering column
– On the radiator support bracket
– On your car’s title, registration, guarantee/maintenance book or on the declarations page of your auto insurance policy

Desirable Gray Market Mercedes

Resource: Mercedes Benz Club of America

According to the Mercedes Benz Club of America, the following cars are some of the most desirable gray market Mercedes.

  • R107 Roadsters
  • 280SL/SLC: The combination of a 6-cylinder engine and a manual transmission makes this R107 variant more fun than any U.S.-market 107 ever was. Even automatic variants are fun to drive.
  • 350SL/SLC: The V-8 350SL could be had with a 4-speed manual.
    380SL/SLC: European variants of all 380s had 205 horsepower instead of 155.
  • 500SL: This was the fastest W107 produced, with options such as headers or limited-slip differential.
  • W123 Sedans and Wagons
  • 300D: While these were naturally aspirated, manual transmissions were available.
  • 300TD: European wagons were available in turbo and naturally aspirated form. Turbo models had several great options, like 15-inch wheels and trailer hitches. Naturally aspirated vehicles were available with both 4- and 5-speed gearboxes.
  • W126 Sedans
  • 280E/280CE/280TE/280SE/280SEL: The M110 engine, with 185 horsepower, is fantastic with any transmission choice, manual or automatic.
  • 500SE/SEL/SEC: The 5-liter variants were gifted with 235 horsepower. The 500SEL was available with hydraulic suspension. AMG variants are even more fun.
  • 560SEL/SEC: The European 560SEL/SEC is even more powerful than the 500. The AMG version, with four valve heads, is the fastest version of the 126 series car.
  • W460 Geländewagen
  • 240GD/280GE/300GD: The W460 was built with 2.3- and 2.8-liter gasoline engines, and 2.4 and 3.0 diesels. These rugged 4x4s are well known in Europe. All were available with automatic or manual transmissions.
  • W201 Sedans
  • 190E: The European 2.3-liter, 16-valve produced 185 horsepower and had a better climate-control system.
    190D: The most frugal of diesels, a 5-speed 190D 2.0-liter will net 40 mpg.
  •  W116 Sedans
  • 280SE/350SE/450SEL/450SEL 6.9: All European 116 variants were blessed with extra power and did not use the troublesome automatic climate-control system unless optionally equipped.

The Ins and Outs of Gray-Market Mercedes Cars

What are Gray Market Cars?

Cars that are legally imported from other countries without using the maker’s usual official distribution channels are referred to as gray-market cars. Gray market cars particularly in the 1980’s were European cars engineered and built for European roads, but were shipped to the United States.  The cars were sold to US customers outside the normal dealer channels through a loosely formed network of independent gray market dealers.  Americans enjoyed the look and performance of European cars, and were more than happy to try alternative ways to obtain them.

Any Mercedes vehicle that was imported outside of the Mercedes-Benz of North America dealer network is technically considered a gray-market car.    Gray-market Mercedes-Benz (GMMB) cars were purchased in Europe, imported and then the modifications were made so that they would be legal to own in the United States according to federal law.  In dealing with a gray market car one had to contend with regulations from three different agencies: the Department of Transportation, The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Customs Service.

The 1970’s:  Underpowered,  Unloved & Ugly  Bumpers

In 1973  the federal government mandated that every car sold in the US had to have bumpers that could withstand a 5 mph collision without damage.  Although well intentioned the bumpers of the time were notoriously ugly.  For almost a decade Americans had to contend with bumpers that no doubt were an embarrassment to  car design teams, and laughable to our European friends.   To add insult to injury, starting in 1974,  emission standards in the US were tightened so much that engine performance and efficiency were significantly reduced which actually increased the amount of fuel needed to get from point A to point B.

Gray-market cars however had significantly much more horsepower, normal looking bumpers and enticing options not available in the US. Such characteristics made them highly desirable over their American counterparts.  In addition, a particularly strong US dollar fueled demand.  Price savvy Americans figured out that they could buy a highly sought after Mercedes in Europe for about half the cost they would pay in the U.S. The only issue was getting them here and modifying the cars to meet U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards and Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards.

In 1981 Mercedes-Benz only offered the 380 SEL to the U.S. However the much more powerful 500 SEL was available to the rest of the world. This of course created a surging demand for what Americans couldn’t get. Mercedes afficianados yearned  for the more powerful European built Mercedes-Benz.  The gray-market provided opened the door to obtain such a highly valued automobile.

In 1980, an estimated 1,500 gray market cars were sold to US customers.  But by 1985 an estimated 60,000 cars were sold in the US.  Following that tens of thousands of cars were imported into the US each year during the decade. However, this kind of business did not go unnoticed by Mercedes-Benz of North America and their associated dealers. 60,000 cars even at a super modest value of say $20,000 each, would have an estimated value of about $1 billion dollars.   With forecasts of both unit and dollar sales doubling in 1990, gray market cars were beginning to take a serious bite out of potential profits.  As a result Mercedes wanted to put a stop to the practice of private importation of cars.

Automotive makers and official distributors suited up  to thwart gray-market importation.  Going on the offensive they invested in multi-million dollar campaigns to lobby congress.  Their ultimate aim was  to get federal regulations that either banned imports from certain countries or to get laws passed that required expensive car modifications like special exhaust or safety features to be added.  Of course adding special headlamps, sidemarker lights, special bumpers or catalytic converters would not only be inconvenient, but also add to the total price of a gray-market car.  The makers and the distributors hoped this would  make the “non-official” cars less attractive to buyers.   Even after the addition of these items the NHTSA and EPA could review the paperwork and had full authority to either approve or reject the possession of the vehicle.  If they were rejected they could order the car to be destroyed or re-exported.

The Automobile Importers Compliance Association was a non-profit trade association whose members imported, modified, tested or sold vehicles which weren’t originally manufactured to meet the US safety and emission standards.  The AICA in it’s day provided a “Packet Review Program” to it’s members for a preliminary review of their compliance packets to the EPA and DOT.    Preliminary reviews helped importers understand if there were any problems to be fixed in the forms.  “Once corrected, the packet is hand-delivered to the agency (EPA, DOT) and a signed, VIN-specific delivery receipt is generated and kept on file.  Computerized tracking records are maintained for each vehicle.”

The AICA handbook wisely notes:  “While it may be financially attractive  to purchase a vehicle in a foreign country and import it into the US, the complications imposed by the safety ad emission requirements may make the process seem impossible.”

“The commercial imports industry exists as an expression of free trade and freedom of choice for American consumers.  AICA was formed out of the desire by the commercial imports industry to oppose the efforts to change laws and regulations which would eliminate the activity of importing vehicles by other than the original manufacturer.”

Ending of the Gray-Market

In response, gray-market automotive importers tried to protect their livelihoods and formed an organisation called AICA (Automotive Importers Compliance Association).  The group of importers from California, Florida, New York, Texas, and elsewhere teamed up to fight back.  But despite their efforts to counter the actions by Mercedes lobbyists, the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act was passed in 1988.  This effectively ended the private import of grey-market vehicles into the United States.

As a result of being practically banned, the grey-market declined from 66,900 vehicles in 1985 to a mere 300 vehicles in 1995.  Now it is no longer possible to import a non-U.S. vehicle into the United States as a personal import, with four exceptions, none of which permits Americans to buy recent vehicles not officially available in the United States.

Is the Car I’m looking at a Real Gray Market Import?
Want to figure out what a gray market car had to go through in order to be legally imported?  Try the Handbook of Vehicle Importation, put out by the American Importers Compliance Association in 1985. This rare book helps one figure out if a car that you are looking at is indeed a legal gray market import.  It carefully outlines all the procedures that were necessary to follow in order to successfully import a gray market car.



History of the AMG

Hans-Werner Aufrecht – the Engineer and Visionary “Who is the A in AMG”

The AMG story began with Hans-Werner Aufrecht.  Hans was born on December 28, 1938 in Großaspach, Germany.   As a young boy Hans was thrilled by the Mercedes victories in several landmark races. The Carrera Panamericana was the world’s toughest road race at the time and in 1952. It was won by racing prototypes of the now legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

Two years later when Hans was just 14 years old, the Mercedes-Benz W 196 R,  known as the “Silver Arrow” cars  won first and second place  positions in 1954  at the French Grand Prix.   During this period in car racing history, Mercedes-Benz engine power was increasing  at an exponential rate.  This exciting trend caught the attention of everyone in the racing world and sparked the  young Hans’ enthusiasm as well.   He was inspired by the reports of such powerful racing machines, and it ultimately sparked his dream to work for Daimler-Benz to build racing engines.

Hans Werner Aufrecht

After college Hans landed his dream job and was hired on to work at Daimler.  One can only imagine his excitement on landing a job to work behind the scenes in racing back in the early 1960’s.  He was a dynamometer engineer in the testing department of the racing team.  He quickly became reknown as “the performance man” for his engineering work on the team’s racing engines.  During those days the company performed extensive tour car racing in Europe and South America.

Hans -Werner Aufrecht later on met and worked with Erhard Melcher at the Daimler-Benz Development department on the 300 SE racing engine.  At first, as they both admit,  frankly the two didn’t really hit it off.  Melcher, a  fresh “know it all” engineer from Rhineland left a note in test bench data logs about whether there should be measurements with a fan or without a fan to Hans-Werner Aufrecht.  Hans thought that of course the measurements should be without the fan.  Melcher, was a bit of annoyed  by Aufrecht’s matter of fact attitude, and started to send notes about  how he should personally check the timing on all of the 6 cylinder engines.  Fortunately the two settled their minor differences and both began to work on engines of their own after work at night.  Little did they know that  later went on they would create  AMG history together.

Erhard Melcher
Erhard Melcher tuning and engine

At the start of the racing season for 1965, in the world of sport racing factory teams were only allowed to enter race cars from small batches of production series road cars.  The board of Daimler-Benz in turn made a business decision to discontinue it’s racing activities.   The reason being they just couldn’t see much future for small series sedans with racing stripes.  One can just imagine the day the Daimler-Benz racing engineers  and team got the news from upper management.   This must of felt like an epic disaster to Hans as afterall he had just started his dream job with the company only  a few years prior.

Sometimes change is good if one looks for opportunity.  Hans did just that.  Han’s intense passion to work on building racing engines still burned brightly.   Operating in seclusion he focused on his mission.  He bought a Mercedes-Benz 300SE with Manfred Schiek, a close colleague and race car driver from the Mercedes racing division.  In an old mill in Burgstall An Der Murr, about 20 miles northeast of Stuttgart,  he set about working on the car clearing it of it’s chrome trim and  building a true race car out of it.


Only one thing stood in this way, but it was something that had to be overcome.  The standard production 170 HP engine just wasn’t strong enough to make it with competitive car racing.    The problem was that once an engine pushed past 7,000 rpm there was an inherent risk to the engine’s stability.   Aufrecht knew that Erhard Melcher was not only a genius, but had extensive experience in pushing performance out of his older brother’s championship racing motorcycles.  He knew he would be successful with his help, and he  sought out Melcher’s advice.

Melcher hard at work tuning Mercedes performance engines 

Aufrecht’s basement where they worked on the direct fuel injection system.

Aufrecht presented Melcher with the technical challenge and Melcher quickly found a rather ingenious solution.  He installed a high performance fuel injection system from a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and managed to squeeze 238 HP at 7,200 rpm out of it on the test bench.    The engine indeed held up, and was confirmed by a secret test run by European rally champion Eugen Bohringer.

Aufrecht and Melcher prepared the  very same Mercedes 300 SE that they had been working on in the barn  to join the German racing championship in 1965.  Once the car was nearly ready to go the two confessed their secret.  They opened up to Rudolf Uhlenhaut who  was the Daimler-Benz board member for development at the time.  Mr. Uhlenhaut rendered a quick decision for the two.  If the car turned out to be as fantastic as they said, Aufrecht and Melcher would be allowed to run it in competition but, if not, they would be shown the door and asked to leave the company post haste.

Melcher holding AMG’s first 4 valve V8 engine
Fortunately for the men and AMG fans everywhere, the car passed the test.  That very same Mercedes 300 SE 6.8 that was tuned in Aufrecht’s old mill barn went on to win 10 rounds in the  1965 German Touring Car Championship.  At the wheel, was the legendary race car driver Manfred Schiek.   The very same driver who helped Aufrecht purchase the car in the beginning.   Manfred was  an intense racing crowd favorite and aggressive driving champion.  He had six wins in eight races and in 1965 tied with Gerhard Bodmer, the German circuit racing champion.  (He was awarded the championship posthumously after a tragic accident near Prague later that year.)

Aufrecht's old mill for tuning Mercedes 300 SELs
The old mill that Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher worked in to tune the Mercedes-Benz 300SE MG in the town of Burgstall, Germany

In  1966, Aufrecht and Melcher continued to focus their hard won racing technical expertise.  They set out working on tuning road vehicles inside Aufrecht’s garage. Members of the Daimler-Benz racing team who  loved speed and performance as part of their jobs, would take their regular street cars in to be optimized by the duo.  They outfitted four or five Mercedes-Benz SEs with direct fuel injection with extraordinary results.   After the wins of 1965 and word got out that the pair were tuning ordinary cars the orders came flooding in.  Regular owners of 220 SEs and 250SEs were starting to make the trek out to the barn and old mill to have tune ups performed.

The headquarters was a former mill in the next town over Burgstall. Very soon, the engines that were revamped there became a must for private racing teams.

The first AMG Sign at their shop
Melcher pointing out his AMG sign

In 1967 the two officially described themselves as “engineering, design and testing specialists in the development of racing engines”. Their previous successes built up enough business that they felt confident to give up their jobs at Mercedes.  They formed their own racing engine company.  “Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach Ingenieurbüro, Konstruktion und Versuch zur Entwicklung von Rennmotoren” (“Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach engineering firm, design and testing for the development of racing engines”) or also called AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH.  Fortunately for the rest of us who don’t speak German very well, the name was shortened to AMG. The letters stand for: Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach.  Großaspach was the town where Hans-Werner Aufrecht grew up in.

1965 Mercedes 300 SEL - Championship

In 1968, the Stroke-8 gave them their first real breakthrough and customer orders began to double from year to year.  When they entered their first AMG in a 24 hour race at Spa Francorchamps in 1971 they won 2nd place with the “Red Giant” a four-door sedan piloted by Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz.  The car ran at 428 HP and a top speed of 265 km per hour.  On the very same day a TV new program had a report on the AMG 300 SEL 6.8.  It seemed overnight the name AMG became a world wide sensation with newspapers as far as China reporting about the cars.

The first real success for AMG came in 1971 at the 24 Hours of Spa where the AMG powered Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 won in its class and came home in second place overall. And with that result, the AMG name spread throughout the automotive world. The company then continued to grow throughout the 70’s and 80’s and in 1990, it signed a cooperation agreement with Daimler-Benz AG in 1990. Three years later, the first jointly developed car between the two was released with the Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG and in the same year, the Patent Office officially recognised the AMG trademark.

Since then, AMG and Mercedes-Benz have continued to collaborate on both racing cars and road cars and GTspirit was recently able to take an exclusive tour through the AMG engine production facility located in Affalterbach, Germany.