AMG Hammer Is A Masterpiece of German Car Tuning

Rare 6.0 V8 Mercedes-Benz coupé has gone for auction. Let’s take the opportunity to remember one of AMG’s finest works as an independent tuner

Even though car auctions have always existed, they have developed an interesting hype lately. Specialized publications have made entire columns for them, where they choose a different car every day and write a little about it. As car enthusiasts, we always enjoy reminiscing about classic models, or learning about the ones we do not know yet. The idea for this article came from a quite rare auction that started today.

Among the basics of this car, we can start with the fact that it dates back to when AMG was independent. That explains why it looks so different than the cars it presents in nowadays. Besides that, it is one of only 13 units that the tuner produced for the US. And, as you can see on the auction link, the coupé is in near-mint condition. But first things first – let us take a closer look at what exactly is the AMG Hammer.

This 1978 280E's wheels come in the body color, which was a signature trait of early AMG cars (source: WheelsAge)
This 1978 280E’s wheels come in the body color, which was a signature trait of early AMG cars (source: WheelsAge)

The AMG behind the Hammer

Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher founded the company in 1967 as racing engine forge. The fact that they were former Mercedes-Benz engineers implied a connection which would only get stronger over time. The positive results in terms of tuned cars first led to a contract of cooperation with Daimler in 1993. The company bought 51% of its shares in 1999 and the rest in 2005, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.

The 1993 C36 AMG was the first common development of Mercedes-Benz and AMG (source: WheelsAge)
The 1993 C36 AMG was the first common development of Mercedes-Benz and AMG (source: WheelsAge)

The main reason for such success is that the companies developed something like biological mutualism. AMG provided technical excellence and a strong image regarding sporty versions of city cars. Mercedes-Benz responded with the demand of a large dealer network and larger production volumes. Performance fans were tuning their cars at AMG on their own anyway, so why not make things easier for them?

Now, if you feel that the current AMG cars are too similar to the regular ones, its independent phase will surprise you. The tuner had a simplistic style that made its creations incredibly kitsch. Most spoilers were of unpainted plastic. Besides, there was a time when it would paint the wheels in the body color leaving the outer ring in silver. As you can imagine, the Hammer belongs to this “so bad that it is good” era.

The AMG Hammer was a special upgrade to the regular Mercedes-Benz W124 family tuned by AMG (source: WheelsAge)
The AMG Hammer was a special upgrade to the regular Mercedes-Benz W124 family tuned by AMG (source: WheelsAge)

What is an AMG Hammer?

From the base Mercedes-Benz W124, we can see that the chrome accents now come in body color. There are discreet lip spoilers on the bumpers and trunk lid. Mercedes emblems are either darkened or all gone. And there are the wheels… AMG would extend the body color to them in two ways. One wheel model has everything but the outer ring painted while the other had only side accents in it. They were just as flashy.

The tuner worked on all W124 versions, like the AMG Hammer sedan (source: WheelsAge)
The tuner worked on all W124 versions, like the AMG Hammer sedan (source: WheelsAge)

In the cabin, the goal was luxury. AMG cars featured the complete package, including Hi-Fi audio system, air conditioner, power assistance for several functions, exclusive steering wheel, and Recaro leather seats. The tuner only wanted them to replace Mercedes-Benz’s opulent and conservative air with a sporty and casual image. The AMG Hammer was quite expensive, but it was hard to beat in the German market.

When it comes to engines, AMG would fit the 300 CE with the bigger brother 560 SEC’s 5.5L V8. However, that was not enough for the Hammer. The tuner replaced the engine’s cylinder units with twin-cam heads of four valves each, and increased the displacement to 6.0 liters. There are also dual catalytic converters, a limited-slip differential, and a reinforced subframe. US-spec units had a four-speed automatic gearbox.

External overview of the AMG Hammer Coupé currently for auction (source: The MB Market)

Did it get good reviews?

Car and Driver said that it “utterly flattens them all on comfort, on practicality, and, most important, on the absolutely unadulterated, instantly available ability to rocket across the face of the earth” comparing it to some sports cars in 1986. Road & Track labeled it “an automobile with the body of a 4-door sedan and the soul (and performance) of an exotic” in 1987. And there were many other similar opinions. Many.

Of the 30 total units, there was a single AMG Hammer Wagon (source: WheelsAge)
Of the 30 total units, there was a single AMG Hammer Wagon (source: WheelsAge)

Whether in sedan, coupé, or station wagon body, the AMG Hammer was more than a tuned W124. It was an evolution; a reinterpretation that turned out to be better in almost every way. The design tweaks made it brasher than what one would expect from a Mercedes-Benz, but that was the goal. That was the reason why so many owners would take their cars straight from the dealer to have the tuner work its magic.

The Hammer going on auction is a 1988 coupé built under US specifications. As the auction page shows, it is in such good condition that it will certainly reach an even loftier sum that the one AMG charged three decades ago. Even if you do not plan to place a bid, feel free to visit there. You will find more information about the car’s details and more facts about this unmistakable gem of German automotive engineering.

Internal overview of the AMG Hammer Coupé currently for auction (source: The MB Market)

Frequently asked questions

How many AMG Hammer coupes were made?

We know that AMG produced 29 units in total. According to Carscoops, 13 of them followed US specifications. Of those, five were coupés.

How many AMG Hammer wagons were made?

The most accepted number is only one. AMG would accept custom orders from people who already owned the base model, the Mercedes-Benz W124. You can learn about the only AMG Hammer wagon ever made clicking here.

How much does a AMG Hammer cost?

The coupé unit this article features is currently on auction for $288,888.

What engine is in the AMG Hammer?

A 6.0L V8 derived from Mercedes-Benz’s 5.5L unit. AMG customized the engine itself by replacing the cylinder heads with a twin-cam, four-valve setup. It also increased the displacement to the full six liters. The Hammer’s engine makes 385 hp of power and 417 lb-ft of torque.

What is the AMG Hammer?

It is one of the most expressive cars AMG produced back when it was an independent company. The base car, the Mercedes-Benz W124, would go through heavy modifications to achieve perfect balance between a sophisticated cabin and a strong performance.

What model is the AMG Hammer?

The tuner based it on the Mercedes-Benz W124. You could have it work on your existing car or buy the entire AMG Hammer from the beginning. It was available as sedan, coupé and station wagon just like the base car at the time.

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