AMG Hammer – Birth of the AMG Legend
Before Mercedes-AMG became an official in-house tuning arm, it was an independent outfit squeezing outrageous performance out of Mercedes cars. The 1986 AMG Hammer was one of the first mass-produced models built in Affalterbach that paved the way for AMG’s rise.
AMG Hammer Beginning as an Independent Tuner
AMG was founded in the 1960s by former Mercedes engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher. They specialized in tuning Mercedes vehicles for improved performance. The name came from their initials “AMG” and the town of Aufrecht’s birth, Großaspach. AMG gained fame through the 1970s and 1980s producing custom high-performance Mercedes.
Basis: The Mercedes-Benz W124
AMG selected the new Mercedes W124 E-Class range as the basis for a flagship tuned model. The boxy, overbuilt body and robust chassis provided an ideal starting point to handle the additional power. The “Hammer” nickname referenced Aufrecht’s birth town along with the car’s ability to “hammer” down acceleration.
AMG Hammer Aggressive Styling Transformations
To visually differentiate the Hammer from standard W124s, AMG’s enhancements included lowering the suspension, adding body kits, and fitting wider wheels and tires. Later versions had flared fenders to accommodate an even wider track. Larger front air dams and rear spoilers optimized aerodynamics for high-speed stability. These touches gave the Hammer an aggressive personality.
Hand Built 5.6L V8 Power
At the heart of the Hammer was a 5.6L V8 built by AMG technicians, bored and stroked from the stock 3.0L inline-6. Each engine is hand-assembled in Affalterbach. With racing cams, intake, and exhaust, output reached 355 hp – massive for the era. This muscle rocketed the boxy sedan to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.
Refinement Retained from Mercedes Origins
Despite the dramatic performance gains, the Hammer retained much of the W124’s refinement thanks to its Mercedes roots. Details like power steering, automatic climate control, power sunroof, and cruise control kept the Hammer enlightened for road use. Premium leather seating and wood trim added luxury for a personality mixing muscular spirit and practicality.
Instant Success for AMG
The Hammer made waves soon after its launch in 1986. AMG’s V8 transformation took an ordinary Mercedes and turned it into a supercar dominator. Well-heeled enthusiasts and celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger lined up to pay over $80,000 for the exclusive speed machine. The Hammer’s cult following and success helped drive AMG’s growth and eventual Mercedes acquisition.
Today the Hammer is remembered as a landmark model that launched the AMG name into the stratosphere. Its audacious power in an unexpected Mercedes package created the formula that has defined AMG’s magic touch for over 35 years since.