All posts by Diane

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



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.

AMG – Mercedes

AMG stands for Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach.



Authentic German pronunciation of Aufrecht Melcher GroŸaspach

“Over 45 years ago, an overwhelming passion for motorsports translated into the creation of an unique company.

A as in Aufrecht, M as in Melcher and G as in GroŸaspach “ the names behind these three letters are the starting point of the rapid development from a two-man operation to a global brand. The story starts in the 1960s: The two engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher were working on the 300 SE racing engine in the Daimler-Benz Development department until the company discontinued all motorsports activities.

Yet the hearts of Aufrecht and Melcher beat unabated for motorsports. In Aufrecht’s house in Grossaspach, they spent their spare time further honing the performance of the engine. In 1965, Manfred Schiek, a colleague at Daimler, went to the start in the German Touring Car Championship with the 300 SE engine that had been developed by Aufrecht and Melcher  and won ten times! Schiek’s triumph was based on the reputation of Aufrecht and Melcher as experts for sustaining and optimizing the performance of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

However, a reputation was not enough for Aufrecht: his vision was to offer road vehicles modeled after the successful racing car. In late 1966, he left Mercedes-Benz and persuaded Melcher to venture into a shared business with him.

In 1967, they founded the 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”).The headquarters were a former mill in the next town over, Burgstall. Very quickly, the engines that were revamped there became a must for private racing teams.

The first milestone in terms of racing was in 1971 during the 24 Hours of Spa, which went down in the annals of the company: the AMG Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 was the champion in its class and won second place overall. A heavy luxury sedan pulling a fast one on the competing lighter race cars this caused a sensation, and the name AMG spread throughout the world.”

What is an Early Pre-Merger AMG ?


Classic Pre-Merger AMG’s produced in Affalterbach, Germany are rare and extremely valuable. Authentic pre-merger cars are extremely good investments with some commanding prices of over $100,000.  However, if you have your eyes on a “pre-merger” AMG, indeed remember the old adage, “caveat emptor”.   We advise you to be particularly cautious and  make certain you perform your due diligence before opening your wallet.  Pre-merger records are usually really “not very good” to virtually “non-existent”.

In fact  determining whether or not an AMG is in indeed an  authentic  pre-merger automobile can be tricky.  We have derived that not all AMG tuning was actually performed at Affalterbach, Germany. You may be told that a car is  “pre-merger” only to find out that it just has had some modifications.   Around about the 1970’s it was possible to have a car tuned to AMG quality.   It was originally done at the customer’s request.  The customer would order exact tuning to be preformed specifically on the engine, interior, suspension, wheels or the body.

If tuning of the car was done in North America at one of the authorized centers, AMG as it existed then and now will actually have no record of the work.  Mercedes will have records of cars coming out of their factories  of course, but they do not follow the car all the way to AMG.   So before you get hypnotized by AMG Recaro classic seats, we have some advice before jumping into your potential acquisition.

Obtaining  original parts for a pre-merger AMG can be very difficult.  Much has been written and passionately discussed about the lack of pre-merger technical data, parts and MB/AMG support. Many have said there are confidentiality agreements in place or perhaps all of the original technical data is lost/destroyed.





Where did the name Mercedes come from?

Where did the name Mercedes originate from?  Mercedes actually is of Spanish origin, referring to a title for the Virgin Mary, Maria de las Mercedes.

Resource:  Media:

Namesake: Mercedes Jellinek aged 15. Emil Jellinek initially chose the first name of his daughter as a pseudonym for his own involvement in racing with vehicles from Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft; it later became the brand name.;

This young girl’s name is Mércédès Jellinek, pictured at the age of 15.    Her first name has become synonymous with the best engineered cars in the world, Mercedes Benz.

You might be asking yourself how did a little girl’s name became one of the most famous marques in the world?  Her father,  an  Austrian businessman and an avid racing enthusiast was very much involved with racing vehicles for Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft.

He initially chose the first name of his daughter as a pseudonym in competitions.   It was quite common  in those days for racing  men to use “aliases” so as to keep their true identity secret from the competition and the like.  Thus Emil Jellinek raced as Monsieur Mercedes.

Emil with his daughter Mercedes.

Pionier des Automobilvertriebs: Der Kaufmann Emil Jellinek (1853 bis 1918) verkaufte sehr erfolgreich Mercedes-Fahrzeuge der DMG. ; Pioneer car salesman: businessman Emil Jellinek (1853-1918) sold DMG’s Mercedes cars very successfully.;European entrepreneur,  Emil Jellinek (1853-1918).   A legendary salesman who utilized his diplomatic ties with the elite to sell  DMG’s Mercedes cars .

The Pioneering Perfectionist:  Emil  Jellinek

Emil Jellinek was a young man who enjoyed a fashionable lifestyle when the automobile was invented in 1886. He was fascinated with the new product and owned one ever since they appeared: after first trying out a De Dion three-wheeler he bought a four-wheeled Benz Viktoria when the model became available in 1893. But he was not really satisfied yet with the new vehicles. In his view they could be better and had not developed their full potential. He referred to the Benz, for example, as a “monster”, comparing it with a crawling spider.

Eventually, in 1896 a newspaper advertisement of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) caught Jellinek’s attention. He travelled to Cannstatt and ordered two belt-driven cars, “a four-horsepower and a nine-horsepower” which were said to do 40 km/h on a “smooth road” an unheard-of speed in the outgoing nineteenth century.

In Nice, where Emil Jellinek spent most of the year, and which was then a meeting place for the upper crust of France and Europe mainly in the winter,  horseless carriages caught on very well. Starting in 1897 Jellinek promoted the Daimler automobiles in the highest social circles, working as an independent dealer.
The Rothschild family and other well-known personalities bought cars from him. By the time Gottlieb Daimler passed away in 1900, Jellinek had managed to sell 34 cars this way. This gave him weight in his dealings with DMG, and he repeatedly demanded technical innovations of Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach. He combined an ability to judge vehicles with an antenna for the market, and, viewed on the whole, definitely can be described as a marketing strategist.

Jellinek finally convinced Daimler and Maybach that the future of the automobile lay in speed and elegance. “When I came on the scene the Daimler cars were solid, usable and reliable in service, but only cars in theory” he is quoted as saying

Jellinek did not see speed as just a fun temptation but rather he considered it to be the true purpose of a motor vehicle: “If I can’t get any more out of an automobile than out of a horse and carriage, then I might as well travel by horse again!”

Moreover, he suggested that the inventor of the automobile compete in races and reliability runs under his own name and with his own cars, because “racing will make a name for a factory and a brand.”

The first Semmering race, 27 August 1899. The category winner Emil Jellinek is seen here at the wheel of his 16 hp Phoenix racing car, next to him is Hermann Braun. From left to right, on the back seat: Ferdinand Spiegel, Otto Zels and Ferdinand Jellinek. (The first Phoenix models were extremely tall vehicles with a rounded bonnet and round-shaped radiators. They had an output of up to 24 hp).;

Pictured above:  “Pre-Mercedes era” – The first Semmering race, 27 August 1899. The category winner Emil Jellinek is seen here at the wheel of his 16 hp Phoenix racing car, next to him is Hermann Braun. 

Jellinek took a hand in racing himself. For a racing event in Nice in 1899 he had two Daimler Phoenix cars built for himself. They had an output of 21 kW  a great deal for that period. The vehicles could pass for sports cars or racing cars. To support him, DMG sent him Wilhelm Bauer, a foreman who was most familiar with the Phoenix model.


However, the cars from the Daimler company were not good enough to win either the speed trials or the hillclimb. This spurred Jellinek on: he strongly interfered in the company’s model policy, demanding more powerful, faster vehicles from DMG. In addition, he wanted a new chassis: wider, longer, lower-slung, lighter in short: safer than before, even at higher speeds. “I am not interested in today’s car or tomorrow’s.“

I want the car of the day after tomorrow!” This was Emil Jellinek’s maxim. “My workshop is the road. Only the road is the criterion for me.”

During the Nice racing week at the end of March 1900, disaster struck. In the Nice La Turbie mountain race Daimler factory driver Wilhelm Bauer suffered a fatal accident with the car entered in the race as “Mercedes I”.

Co-driver Hermann Braun, who already overturned in the Nice Marseille race with “Mercedes II”, the second Daimler entered at the race week, again remain unscathed.

Cannstatt’s first reaction was to make excessive engine outputs responsible for the accident and to stay away from any speed events in future. However, Emil Jellinek convinced Wilhelm Maybach in early March that the car’s high centre of gravity was responsible for the accident: “Victories bring world fame. People buy the winning brand, and will always buy it. It would be commercial suicide to abstain from racing,” Jellinek argued. “What we need is a new vehicle of completely different design.”

On April 2,  1900 Jellinek ordered the development of a new kind of car with Daimler.  The car was to have an output of at least 26 kW.  He ordered it to be a lightweight engine with a lower centre of gravity and very fast.


A deal needed to be done in order to produce the new vehicles, but DMG was confronted with the problem of sales financing for this better engineered car.  The company needed further capital: even assuming it would be a success, whether or not the cars actually would be sold still posed a relatively high risk.

Jellinek answered this by coming to an agreement with DMG.  He promised a rather large sum of 550,000 Goldmark if Wilhelm Maybach would design the revolutionary sports car for him, and call it Mercedes.   (In today’s numbers, 550,000 Goldmark’s would  be the equivalent of 2.3 million euros.)

With financing in place, it was agreed that 36 units were to be delivered before October 15, 1900.    In exchange Emil proposed that he would sell the cars and share in the profits with DMG.  The deal also included an order for 36 standard DMG 8 hp cars. Jellinek also became a member of DMG’s Board of Management.

The First Official Mercedes

Der erste "Mercedes", der 35-PS Rennwagen von 1901. ; The 35 hp Mercedes racing car of 1901, the first "Mercedes".;
Der erste “Mercedes”, der 35-PS Rennwagen von 1901. ;
The 35 hp Mercedes racing car of 1901, the first “Mercedes”.;


The agreement also assured him far-reaching sales rights for more powerful cars from DMG in all major markets. From April 1900 Emil Jellinek was thus general distributor for Austria-Hungary, France, Belgium and the USA “practically for the whole world,” as one chronicler writes. Jellinek himself was a citizen of Austria-Hungary. In the countries where he was sole distributor, the cars were sold under name “Mercedes”, while in all other countries they initially sold as “new Daimler”. But soon people in all countries only talked about “Mercedes cars”.

“We have entered the Mercedes era!”

The first new 35 hp car was delivered to Jellinek on 22 December 1900. This new “Mercedes” developed by Wilhelm Maybach caused a sensation at the start of the century: it was the world’s first modern car. One of its numerous technical innovations was the honeycomb radiator, which needed far less water than before to cool the engine.

Jellinek at any rate was very good at promoting the new type of automobile. As early as 4 January 1901, just a few days after the arrival of the first Mercedes in Nice, the L’Automobile-Revue du Littoral published an article which stated:

There is nothing new to see in Paris right now but in Nice. The first Mercedes car built in the workshops of Cannstatt has arrived in Nice, and thanks to the cooperativeness of its owner, Mr. Jellinek, all car drivers were able to have a close look at it. We make no secret of our opinion: the Mercedes car is very, very interesting. This remarkable vehicle will be a fearsome competitor in the races of 1901.”

At the Nice racing week in late March 1901 the cars with the name Mercedes demonstrated to a large audience just what they were capable of: with four first-place and five second-place finishes the Daimler cars were in a class of their own  both in the long-distance run, the hillclimb and the mile race. The French manufacturer Panhard & Levassor, who had captured first place in all races of the previous year, withdrew its vehicles before the start.

“We were victorious all down the line: the Mercedes car has been launched. Mercedes was the car of the day,” Emil Jellinek said for the record. Paul Meyan, general secretary of the French Automobile Club, coined the phrase: “We have entered the Mercedes era!”

For until then, although the Germans Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler were regarded as the inventors of the automobile, the French were considered the better carmakers. The cream of society was enthusiastic about the new vehicle.

In 1901 the American billionaires Rockefeller, Astor, Morgan and Taylor were among the buyers of the powerful Mercedes cars of DMG. Wilhelm Maybach, of whom Jellinek was convinced that he could “invent on command”, and who was celebrated by the French as the king of constructors, developed the new method of building automobiles further. But Maybach shared the kudos with Jellinek: “You and I are the inventors of the Mercedes car,” he wrote later on in a letter.

Vintage Mercedes Magazine Advertising

Classic advertisements for Mercedes are objects d’art  in their own right.  The illustrators of the time period were quite accomplished and their airbrushed artwork is confident and refined.  Please enjoy our collection.

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Mercedes-Benz tpe 300D - 1958
Mercedes-Benz tpe 300D – 1958

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Mercedes-Benz Typ 300 S Roadster
Mercedes-Benz Typ 300 S Roadster

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Mercedes-Benz Typ 300 S Cabriolet A, 1951-55. Prospektzeichnung von 1953.
Mercedes-Benz Typ 300 S Cabriolet A, 1951-55. Prospektzeichnung von 1953.

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4 R
4 R

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