Looking to Upgrade Your Mercedes-Benz?

AMG is only one tuner that specializes in Mercedes cars. Here, we are going to show you ten other places to go if you want to extract the maximum performance of your car

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the Hammer, a highly limited tuning package AMG designed for the Mercedes-Benz W124 in the late 1980s. Back when we did not know its auction would fetch an enormous price, the most interesting fact was its history. In short, AMG created it when it was independent, before it started a partnership which would end with Mercedes-Benz making it a wholly owned subsidiary.

While that move brought AMG stability and prominence, it has also capped its freedom. That is why many car fans prefer independent companies when they want to invest in car tuning. In fact, one of those has just made the news because of a tuned 1992 600 SEL. This article will show you the ten most important independent tuners that work with Mercedes-Benz cars, whether exclusively or not. We hope you enjoy!


Brabus

2023 Brabus P 900 Rocket Edition

The most important Mercedes-Benz tuner after Mercedes-AMG has the main goal of maximizing the car’s performance. However, it has also become known for its unique style, based on an aggressive use of the black color. You can either buy a fully tuned car from Brabus or take your existing one for it to upgrade. More recently, the company has also opened the possibility of purchasing visual accessories individually.

  • Brabus is known for its expensive projects. A fully tuned car can cost twice as much the regular one.
  • From the initial black body paint, the company is now using white and gray too, with red accents.
  • While there are kits for all models, the upscale Mercedes-Benz cars are by far the most requested.
  • Brabus exhaust systems have two working modes. One of them minimizes its sound for urban use.

You would think Brabus would be tired of creating tuning packages for the G-Class after so many of them, right? The truth is that now it has decided to mix and match: the P 900 Rocket uses the pickup body made for the 800 Adventure XLP and the 900 Rocket SUV’s lower chassis. From the typical overload of external and internal Brabus accessories, we can highlight the many red accents and the carbon-fiber brake discs.


Carlsson

2016 Carlsson Diospyrus (source: WheelsAge)

Compared to Brabus, Carlsson has a broader approach. It has worked with other manufacturers as well and it does not necessarily seek performance. It has ventured into coachbuilding projects here and there, as well as high-luxury tuning packages. An interesting fact is that the company was not named after its founders but after Ingvar Carlsson, a Swedish rally driver who raced for the Mercedes Rally Team in the 1980s.

  • Carlsson has also tuned cars manufactured by Citroën, SAAB, Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, and Genesis.
  • In 2007, Carlsson started a coachbuilding project with Etienne Aigner. The first car was a CL-Class.
  • The tuner sold 70% of its stake to the Chinese holding Zhongsheng Group Holdings Limited in 2012.
  • Three years later, the Korean company Sambo Motors Co. Ltd. took over the tuner on December 4th.

The most distinctive feature about this model is the Carlsson Heritage Green, a minty shade that features a delicate golden shimmer under direct sunlight. The car also carries the tuner’s logo on the front and the rear and uses bespoke 20″ wheels. The name alludes to a West African ebony species scientifically named Diospyros Crassiflora; that wooden trim appears in the cabin along with Vintage Cognac Nappa leather.


Hamann Motorsport

Hamann Mercedes-AMG GLE63 (source: WheelsAge)

The Laupheim-based company works with cars from Fiat to Rolls-Royce. It offers the typical tuning kits, of course, but its main products are unique projects and redesigned engines. Basically, Hamann orders crate engines from the manufacturer and reworks them. The first model it retuned was a BMW M3 from the E30 generation. Its turbocharged 2.3L I4 engine made 348 hp and took it from 0 to 62 mph in 5.1 seconds.

  • This company focuses on mechanical upgrades; its visual tuning does not stand out in the crowd.
  • Even though Hamann works with so many brands, it is most commonly known for its BMW tuning.
  • When working on exotic hypercars like the Ferrari Enzo, the external work is limited to new wheels.
  • Just like bigger tuners, Hamann presents its tuning packages shortly after the car’s official release.

The cherry red is only one of the Hawk Roadster’s attractions. Hamann’s work on the Mercedes-AMG SLS included an engine tune up that took the power to 636 hp and the torque to 501 lb-ft. Besides that, it has front, side and rear aerodynamic inserts that aim to increase downforce especially at high speeds. That is the trick to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in only 3.6 seconds and to reach the top speed of 200 mph.


Kleemann

Kleemann R50K (source: WheelsAge)

While this tuner operated specifically with Mercedes-Benz cars at first, it eventually included Audi, BMW, and Porsche. As usual, it aims to maximize their performance by skillfully reworking key components such as differential, ECU, transmission, and valve timing. Besides, it works on the car’s aerodynamics by adding carbon fiber body kits of its own design. Kleemann also manufactures most of the tuning parts it sells.

  • In 2002, the Kleemann E 55K reached 210 mph and became the world’s fastest four-door car to date.
  • Shortly later, the Kleemann ML 55K reached 175 mph at Nardò and became the world’s fastest SUV.
  • Kleemann was the first tuner to use supercharger, intake manifold, and intercooler in a single unit.
  • The tuner’s logo is a red arrow of abstract design. Sometimes, corporate staff calls it Kleeman carrot.

The GTK was the very first model Kleemann designed as a whole. The tuner reworked all the body panels of the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG of that time while preserving the base design. The company also used the Kleemann Kompressor to boost it to 533 hp and 516 lb-ft and a limited-slip differential. The car went from 0 to 62 mph and reached the top speed of 186 mph. It never reached mass production, though.


Lorinser

2012 Lorinser S70 (source: WheelsAge)

While this company appeared in 1930, it did not work with tuning since then. Lorinser started as Daimler’s official reseller for the Mercedes brand. It went from aftermarket service to car tuning only in 1976. Today, it is managed by the founder’s grandson and shows no signs of weakening in the market. While the tuner specializes in Mercedes-Benz cars, it has also worked with Audi, Infiniti, and Lexus cars, among others.

  • Lorinser was founded to take care of maintenance and service tasks for Mercedes cars in the 1930s.
  • Founder Erwin Lorinser only involved his son, Manfred, in the company when it turned 39 years old.
  • Besides the tuning service, Lorinser also has a car dealership of its own in the city of Winnenden.
  • Grandson Marcus Lorinser has taken over the company’s “Sportservice” department since 2006.

While other tuners have ventured into more complex projects or even full cars, Lorinser has limited itself to tuning kits. Most of them massage the original style, making it smoother and less aggressive. There are also cases where it works on the engine not only to increase its performance, but also to make it sound better. Sometimes, Lorinser also plays with the external colors by creating unique two-tone layouts.


Mansory

2016 Mansory Mercedes-AMG GT (source: WheelsAge)

This tuner started with high-luxury cars like Rolls-Royce and sports cars like Ferrari but, later, opened itself to other brands. Over the years, it has grown enough to acquire part of the Rinspeed studio and to create a global dealership network. It has become famous for its flashy designs and for the boldness to execute them even on exotic cars. That is the case with Ferrari Monza SP2 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

  • Besides many European countries, Mansory is also present in China, North America, India, and Japan.
  • It usually tunes its cars with flashy paint jobs on the outside, using colors like turquoise or bright red.
  • In 2012, Mansory partnered with Lotus to take care of its cars’ bodywork, service, and trim services.
  • Sadly, that partnership ended when CEO Dany Bahar left Lotus. The final project was shown in 2019.

Remember the G-Class Landaulet that Mercedes created in 2017 along with Maybach? Mansory predicted that concept four years earlier. The Speranza featured two doors and a droptop, the latter covered with a fabric roof. Besides, it uses several carbon-fiber inserts like the flared fenders and the spare wheel cover. As usual, the twin-turbo V8 engine was upgraded: it now makes 700 hp of power and 663 lb-ft of torque.


Piecha Design

Piecha Design Avalange GTR (source: WheelsAge)

This might be the smallest one compared to all the others on this list. Poland tuner Piecha Design focuses on the bread and butter of this industry: body kit and powertrain upgrades. More specifically, restyled bumpers and spoilers, exclusive rims, and engine upgrades for higher power and torque. While its projects are far from controversial, its image does not benefit from the fact that its website only shows outdated cars.

  • The 2009 C30 Estate has a unique feature: the hood was extended to cover part of the headlights.
  • Aside from Mercedes-Benz cars, Piecha’s other large project is the first-generation Jaguar F-Type.
  • The tuner is also credited for having made a 1987 Opel Manta with cabrio body and flared fenders.
  • One of the most recent projects is the 2016 AMG GT-RSR, which featured a large second rear wing.

The Avalange GTR is a recurring project based on the Mercedes-Benz SL. You can see that Piecha Design has not done any radical changes; the front fascia could easily belong to the base model. However, it has achieved high visual difference by the skilled use of what it did. By painting different regions in the body color and removing some of the chrome trim, it gave different weight to each element in the overall look.


Prior-Design

Prior Design Mercedes-Benz CLK (source: WheelsAge)

Have you seen that all the tuners above specialize in luxury cars? Prior-Design is a notable exception to it. The company has presented tuning projects for everything from the Dacia Duster to Porsche Taycan, not to mention a plethora of Mercedes-Benz Classes. While it does not focus on performance or visual items, it does have a unique penchant for widebody tuning kits. It has created them for many of those models.

  • Last year, Prior-Design helped create the Gran Turismo’s widebody for the VW Beetle kit in real life.
  • In 2020, the Audi R8 received extensive modifications that included golden wheels and custom paint.
  • The tuner has also decided to capitalize on the BMW M4 bashing fad through a new front body kit.
  • Classic cars are not immune: the tuner created an Audi Coupé with the RS2’s exclusive visual items.

Prior-Design has become better with each generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLS. The first one received a rather crude tuning kit, with blackened elements and logo removals. The second generation looked much better and made the debut of the widebody kit. At the third generation, the tuner has finally captured the refined and elegant essence of this car; it is considerably classier, indeed, than its archenemy Audi RS7.


Renntech

1992 Renntech S76R

Founder Hartmut Feyhl is widely regarded as the “foremost authority in Mercedes-Benz cars in the USA”. He worked at AMG for 12 years and collaborated with the Hammer’s development. Nowadays, the tuner has broadened its scope to Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen cars, but the focus is the same: tuning parts to improve their performance. Renntech cars have made the covers of many major automotive publications.

  • When Daimler merged with Chrysler, in 1998, Renntech expanded its operations to that brand’s cars.
  • The tuner has a Karting branch too, whose racing karts are powered by Aixro XR50 rotary engines.
  • Renntech works with old Mercedes-Benz cars in a way that resembles AMG’s work in the early days.
  • While most tuner focus on design as well, Renntech specializes at aftermarket performance parts.

Renntech has made the news these days for what it calls “the perfect W140”. The S76R car is named after the massive 7.6L V12 which is the result of upgrading the original 6.0L. The new engine makes 615 hp and 703 lb-ft and delivers everything to the rear wheels. With a five-speed automatic gearbox and a limited-slip differential, the sedan goes to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds and reaches the top speed of 155 mph.


Vorsteiner

Vorsteiner Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG (source: WheelsAge)

This is another tuner which does not limit itself to a car type or a brand. Vorsteiner does not pay attention to its history so much; it focuses on the present by releasing unique tuned editions of many different cars. An interesting feature is that it seems to like matte green; the unusual color appears on its cars every now and then. One of the latest additions to Vorsteiner’s portfolio of tuning projects is the Tesla Model 3.

  • Among Vorsteiner’s latest projects, there is a Lamborghini Huracán painted in military matte green.
  • Every now and then, the tuner toys with all-chrome body paint. It has painted several cars like that.
  • One of its latest favorites is the BMW M4. The first generation had a project painted in matte black.
  • The Tesla Model 3 received a more discreet tuning kit with carbon-fiber accessories and new wheels.

There was a time when Vorsteiner tuned the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG focusing on its design. It chose not to upgrade its engine because it considered the twin-turbo 5.5L V8 strong enough. The sedan received a set fo exclusive 20″ wheels and, which is even more noticeable, a rear air diffuser made of carbon fiber. It is designed to optimize the air flow below the car to naturally increase downforce and traction capacity.


Tuning companies at a glance

TunerYearCityCountryEmployees
Brabus1977BottropGermany136
Carlsson1989MerzigGermany39
Hamann Motorsport1986LaupheimGermany66
Kleemann1985FarumDenmarkN/A
Lorinser1930WinnendenGermanyN/A
Mansory1989MunichGermany182
Piecha DesignN/ARottweilGermanyN/A
Prior-DesignN/AN/AGermanyN/A
Renntech1989StuartUSAN/A
VorsteinerN/AN/AUSAN/A
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