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Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG Hammer (W124)

One day, back when AMG was not an official arm of Mercedes, Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher (the A and M, respectively, in AMG - the G stands for Aufrecht's birthplace, Grossaspach) came up with the most sensational car AMG had ever built…and it was a sedan! Certainly, AMG had built fast cars before, but the Hammer blew practically everything that year (that would be 1986) into the weeds.

At the time, a 3.0-litre 177-hp 6-cylinder 300E would have set you back $39,000. For a cool $17,000, AMG would replace that 3-litre unit with the 5.5-litre V8 from the 560SEC and add 32-valve cylinder heads and twin camshafts. That conversion was good for 360 hp DIN in Europe (slightly less in North America due to emission regulations) but as of 1988, if you wanted the Hammer of Hammers, you'd pop for an additional $39,950 and AMG technicians would bore out the 5.6-litre unit to 6.0-litres and 375 hp DIN. A further $33,302 bought you a different rear differential, Gleason-Torsen LSD, stronger rear sub frame and a host of other chassis mods. Figure about another $14,170 for the AMG suspension, 17 inch chrome wheels and tires, an interior package and aerodynamic body kit (including painting and mounting) and, of course, don't forget about the $18,000 labour charge, and the grand total would be smooth $161,422. What a nice accounting lesson. And remember, folks, this was back in 1988!

*Note that the test numbers achieved using a detuned 6.0-litre US spec car (approx. 350-360hp) running a taller, optional 2.24:1 final drive.

What you'd get for your money was an exceptionally quick and stable sedan. It's not quite as smooth-riding as the 300E that spawned it, but with twice the power and Ferrari GTO performance, who really cares? In 2004 the Hammer's performance is impressive, but in the late 80s, when even Porsche's range-topping 928 S4 would be swept aside in a straight line, it was truly brutal. This is not to say that the Hammer itself was brutal. In fact, despite its name and all the intimidating numbers, its smooth power delivery and well-tuned chassis made the Hammer a very confidence-inspiring drive.

So there you have the Hammer. Almost makes you wish it was 1988 all over again, doesn't it? - by Traian Popescu

Specifications 5.6 / 6.0

Base Price, USD 121,472 / 161,422 Engine Type DOHC 32-valve V8
Powertrain Layout Front engine, RWD Displacement, cc 5547 / 5953
Power(DIN)@rpm 360@5500 / 375@5500 Torque, lb-ft@rpm 377@4000 / 407@4000
Curb Weight, lb 3640 / 3707 0-60 mph, sec - / 5.4 *
1/4 mile, sec@mph - / 13.6@109 * 600 ft slalom, mph -
70-0 mph, ft 165 Top speed, mph 178 / 185 est.