Mercedes-AMG marks its 50th anniversary

Sometimes three initials are all that's needed. Think of F.D.R. (President Franklin D. Roosevelt), J.F.K. (President John F. Kennedy), and even U.S.A.

In the car world, the Pontiac GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato - an Italian term for a touring/racing car) became rather legendary over the years.

When it comes to performance luxury cars, the initials AMG say a lot. This year, the Mercedes-Benz sub-brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Two enthusiasts named Aufrecht and Melcher, working near the German town of Groaspac, started tinkering with Mercedes' cars in 1967 to make them perform better. Their names, plus the name of the town, form the initials AMG.

A lot of progress has happened in the ensuing 50 years.

An extreme example for 2017 is the C63 S Coupe, Edition 1. With a wild charcoal gray and yellow color scheme, it was used to launch the model, and they're very hard to find.

The regular C63 S is very much available and blends all the AMG knowledge from over the years with today's technology. It's mighty 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 produces an amazing 503 horsepower, though the car does carry a base price of $75,000.

The signature of the AMG cars is indeed the engine. One technician builds it from start to finish and his or her signature appears on a plaque on top of the engine.

Of course, everything else in an AMG is upgraded over a standard Mercedes-Benz model, including the suspension, wheels, tires, brakes, and even the seats in many cases.

And while engines are the key, Mercedes-Benz and AMG are also looking to the future.

The future calls for efficiency to go with the performance, so Mercedes-Benz has introduced the new C43 AMG 4MATIC. No V8 up front, but a twin-turbo V6 with a new 9-speed automatic transmission.

Even though fuel mileage improves by over 20 percent over the C63, it still makes a significant 362 horsepower and performs very well. While not as ferocious as the V8 model, it does have a much lower base price of $55,500.

Like pretty much every automaker, Mercedes-Benz is looking ahead using performance, with an eye toward consumption and carbon output.

The company even teased the world a few years ago with a fully-electric high-performance concept car, proudly wearing the AMG badge. So far, it's only a concept.

The AMG models from Mercedes-Benz will never be common, and they'll never be inexpensive. In some cases, the treatment doubles the price of the regular Mercedes-Benz model underneath.

As AMG celebrates 50 years of achievement, it's wisely looking forward to the years ahead in a greener way, perhaps even looking 50 years ahead.
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