The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, as the latest Mercedes-Benz contribution to super-sports car history, harks back to a very special tradition of high-powered automobiles over the last four decades: the AMG era. The successful collaboration now operating as Mercedes-AMG GmbH had also created two previous super-sports cars: the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR and Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG.

AMG was founded in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, establishing a reputation as a pioneer in the motorsport and vehicle tuning sectors. After signing a cooperation agreement with Daimler-Benz AG in 1990, AMG became increasingly integrated with what was then DaimlerChrysler AG in the years from 1999. Its acquisition as a wholly owned subsidiary took place on 1 January 2005.

The collaboration has resulted in a number of racing sports cars and high-performance models, with many examples of cross-fertilisation between the two areas of AMG’s activity. For example, Team AMG 1997 won the FIA GT championship in 1997 with the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR racing sport prototype, and AMG then produced a road-registered model based on the racer – the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR super-sports car, presented in April 1997. The coupé was equipped with a 6.9-litre V12 engine, developing 450 kW. Innovative details implemented by the engineers in this vehicle included the carbon fibre composite body. The super-sports car also came with air-conditioning, a hi-fi system and leather upholstery, in contrast with the racing vehicle designed exclusively for power and handling attributes.

Yet the CLK-GTR remains true to its racing lineage at all times: the super-sports car delivers outstanding driving performance ratings, and the compact cockpit provides an authentic racing feel for both driver and passenger. This vehicle highlights all of AMG’s skills and experience in technology transfer from sports racing to sophisticated production cars with outstanding sports performance. A total of 25 CLK-GTR cars were made.

AMG repeated the feat of transferring purebred racing technology onto the public roads in 2004, with the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG. As before, the road driving model is derived from one of the most successful racing cars of its time, the racing version of the Mercedes-Benz CLK. This is the car that gave Bernd Schneider the German Touring Cars (DTM) championship title in 2003.

The production version of the vehicle has a 428-kW AMG 5.5-litre V8 Kompressor engine, along with a new chassis design, optional sports tyres and aerodynamics optimised in the wind tunnel. The new super-sports car accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds, with a top speed electronically controlled at 320 km/h.

The interior features two leather-upholstered AMG sport bucket seats with four-point safety belts, an oval AMG racing deerskin-upholstered steering-wheel, and the AMG instrumental panel with speedometer reading up to 360 km/h. The production run of the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG was limited to 100 units.
AMG is now established as the performance brand within Mercedes-Benz Cars. Other standout high-performance vehicles in the AMG range since 2006 include the “Black Series” models, where AMG has been totally committed to its motto of “technology transfer from purebred motorsport”. This family of top performers so far includes the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series (2006), Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series (2007) and Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series (2008), AMG’s most powerful car at that time at 493 kW.

Another high-performance sports car launched in the same year as the CLK DTM AMG was the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. First unveiled in 1999 at the Detroit Motor Show as the Vision SLR, it incorporates numerous innovations and features carried over from the Formula 1 vehicle. Standout features include the distinctive front end with its arrow-shaped tip and the characteristic double wing. Examples of functional refinements are the carbon-fibre body, ceramic brake disks and pneumatic brakes.

The Vision SLR proved such a sensation that it was decided to put the vehicle into series production. The first Mercedes-Benz SLR cars for sale to customers arrived on the market in 2004. Their AMG Kompressor engine developed 460 kW, for a top speed of around 334 km/h. The open-top version followed in 2007, and there were also two special models with engine power ratings boosted to 478 kW, the SLR 722 from 2006 and the SLR Stirling Moss from 2008. Production of the SLR McLaren ended in 2004.

Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR (C 297)
In production: 1997
Units produced: 25
Engine: 12-cylinder, V arrangement
Displacement: 6898 cc
Power: 450 kW
Top speed: 320 km/h

Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG
In production: 2004
Units produced: 100
Engine: 8-cylinder, V arrangement
Displacement: 5439 cc
Power: 428 kW
Top speed: 320 km/h

Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR
In production: 1999
Units produced: 1
Engine: 8-cylinder, V arrangement
Displacement: 5496 cc
Power: 410 kW at 6500 rpm
Top speed: 320 km/h

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (C 199)
In production: 2004 to 2009
Engine: 8-cylinder, V arrangement
Displacement: 5439 cc
Power: 460 kW at 6500 rpm
Top speed: 334 km/h

Source: Daimler AG