The AMG Hammer, the first Mercedes Benz Muscle Car

Very rare Mercedes Benz W124 AMG Hammer for sale

The 80s holds a special place in supercar history. Several historically significant vehicles were produced in the era.   Porsche had the legendary Porsche 959, a vehicle that many would argue is the predecessor of the modern super car. Ferrari had the iconic 288 GTO. Other significant vehicles include the M1 from BMW and the F1 from McLaren.   Today, these cars range in price from $1,000,000 for an M1 to well over $10,000,000 for an F1.

There was also a Mercedes Benz produced in the same era that is worthy of placement on this list.   However, it was not actually built by Mercedes Benz but rather AMG, when it was independent. Years later, AMG was bought by Mercedes Benz.

The vehicle in question was appropriately called the ‘AMG Hammer’. It was based on the W124 or E-Class chassis and followed the tried and true recipe for the traditional hot rod of adding a big engine to a mid-size sedan. With the Hammer, AMG had invented the Mercedes Benz muscle car.

AMG A Racing Heritage

AMG has its roots in motorsports. Started by ex-Mercedes engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in 1976 to build Mercedes racing engines for touring car racing, it was its Mercedes Benz 300 SEL that put the company on the map. Powered by a 6.8-liter V8 powered engine, the vehicle finished the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in 2nd place overall and first in class.

AMG was doing specialist tuning like many German modification companies. Such companies added Recaro seats, fancy wheels and custom paint jobs. During this time, racing-style engine modifications increased in popularity as well.

The AMG Hammer

In 1984, BMW showed a concept BMW E28 sedan powered by the same engine in the BMW M1, the m88 engine. Called the M5, this vehicle went on to have a considerable impact upon the future of BMW. AMG’s response to the M5 was of course ‘the Hammer’.

For $39,000, a customer could buy a brand-new Mercedes-Benz 300E. For another $17,000, AMG would add a 5.6-liter M117 V8 engine from the 560SEC. It was a double overhead cam cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. The result was an increase in horsepower from 177 to 335 hp for the Mercedes W124.

If a customer needed more, AMG would bore the engine to 6.0 liters and blueprint it. The engine would be matched to a revalved four-speed transmission and a Torsen limited slip differential. To handle the additional power, a stronger sub-frame was added in addition to a full kit of exterior and interior trim pieces. The price tag was an additional $39,950 on top of the cost of the vehicle.

For an additional $18,000, a buyer could add a lower AMG suspension with aggressive dampening and custom 17-inch wheels wrapped in low profile Pirelli P1700 tires.

When all was said and done, the final cost of ‘the Hammer’ came in close to $160,000. About 30 ‘Hammers’ were ordered with most being sedans. However, there was a coupe that was used as a prototype and a station wagon that was delivered to the United States. The Hammer Coupe is profiled in the video below.

Incredible Performance (at the time)

When the Hammer was first introduced in 1986, the ‘car to have’ at the moment was the Ferrari Testa Rossa. For the price of a fully loaded Hammer, a person could buy 2 Ferrari Testa Rossas. The top speed of Testa Rossa was 180 miles per hour. In contrast, the Hammer was ‘over’ 190 miles per hour. This was amazing performance at the time and keep in mind that this is a four-door sedan.

When the Hammer was first released in Europe, it caused quite a stir. However, when word spread in the United States, things went wild. AMG had just closed a distribution deal with Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories, a well-known tuning shop in Southern California. Shortly, thereafter, AMGs started showing up in the BHMA catalogs, which I remember reading years ago. It was just a matter of time before the Hammer and AMGs started showing up in just about every car magazine in the United States.

Mercedes Benz was paying attention to what was going on with the Hammer. It inspired the legendary Mercedes Benz 500E a few years later in 1992. The 500E has a 322 horsepower 32-valve DOHC 5.0-liter V8 from the Mercedes Benz 500 SL. Another factor that is very special about the 500E was that Porsche prepared the engine and installed it into the engine at the Porsche facility in Zuffenhausen. The vehicle was then taken back to Mercedes for final assembly. Affectionately called a “four-door Porsche”, 10,359 units were made over its three-year production run.

Both the 500E and the Hammer are sought after collector cars. However, because of the very limited number of Hammers produced by AMG, they tend to be worth more. The example shown in this post is going for around $75,000. In contrast, a 500E ranges in price from around $20 to $50,000, depending upon condition.

By modern standards, these cars are not that impressive performance-wise. However, I believe you will be hard pressed to find a car these days with the build quality and the historical significance that you will find in these two cars. I think that they will both continue to appreciate in value as more collectors learn about the legacy that both of these cars have had on the modern performance sedan.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top