This One-Of-13 Mercedes AMG Hammer Coupe Was A World-Beating Wolf In Luxurious Sheep’s Clothing. And It’s For Sale For More Than A Quarter Million Dollars


Perhaps one of the more satisfying things to discover is when a car’s purpose matches its name. A Smart Fortwo seats two, and a Chevrolet Celebrity definitely makes you feel like Clint Eastwood (okay, maybe the second example doesn’t work). In the 1980s, tuning house AMG built one of the world’s coolest cars and gave it a fitting name: the Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer Coupe. Its ferocious performance delivers the blows its title promises. To add to the name’s appropriateness, one of these machines is about to go under the hammer, but it’ll cost you north of $320,000 to bring it home.

If you look at a Mercedes-Benz today and think that it needs to be a lot faster and look a lot more sinister, the brand’s AMG division is where you’ll probably spend your money. AMG is known for taking an already fast Mercedes and turning it into a vehicle that sounds like an Eldritch monster with ridiculous speed. But AMG wasn’t always known for making vehicles like the Mercedes-AMG GT, Mercedes-AMG C 63, or a Black Series car. In the past, AMG wasn’t even a subsidiary of Daimler.

In 1967, former Mercedes-Benz engineers Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher opened AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (AMG Engine Production and Development Limited). The German company in those early days was focused on racing engine development.

The company gained fame in 1971 when its AMG 300 SEL 6.8 crossed the finish line of the 24 Hours of Spa in second place, winning its class. The Red Pig, as it was nicknamed, was a big luxury sedan competing in a field of lighter, sportier cars. But the V8 under the hood (originally a 6.3-liter making 250 HP, bored out to 6.8-liters and making 428 HP) allowed it to blow the pack out of the water. You can see the company’s future in the works, here.

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AMG’s early work on road cars involved unofficial upgrades. You could get anything from an AMG body kit and wheels, to upgraded seats, a sportier steering wheel, manual transmissions, and even mild engine upgrades.

In 1984, Melcher–no longer a partner in the operation but still an employee–developed an independent cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. AMG began engine manufacturing that year. Just two years later, AMG would drop an engine into a Mercedes and create the legendary Hammer Coupe.

It started with a W124 E-Class, and AMG initially dropped in the 5.0-liter V8 from a W126 S-Class. And if you paid AMG more, the tuner was happy to give you a 5.6-liter V8. And if you paid even more, you could get it with a 6.0-liter lump of a V8.

These were cars that had a starting price of about $39,000 in those days, or $105,439 in today’s money. A Hammer like this 300CE-based car set its buyer back $165,000 ($422,569 today) or more. AMG custom-built each car to customer specs so each one is a little different from another.

These cars–regardless if they had four doors or two–blew car magazines away. Even modern reviews give it glowing praise. We’re talking 385 horsepower and 417 lb-ft torque, a healthy boost over the base car’s 3.0-liter six’s 177 HP. This gave the car an acceleration time to 60 mph in about five seconds. It wasn’t the fastest car on the planet, but what wowed reviewers was that it had supercar performance without the supercar downsides. I mean, check out the sub-headline on this period Car and Driver review on the sedan:

Don’t ask, “What’s in a name?” Hammer means in German precisely what it means in English, and this car’s name says exactly what it is: a hard-hitting tool. AMG crafts it to pound everything else flat.

Canada’s the Globe and Mail summed up the interior in a rather amusing fashion in a modern review:

Inside, it’s pure decadence. Imagine the analog cockpit of an old 747 but swathed in wood veneer and perforated black leather with a pair of La-Z-Boy recliners. There are so many buttons and it’s not clear what most of them do, but they look important. The seats are infinitely electrically adjustable, sculpting to cosset every size and shape of buttock.

There was no folding yourself into a cramped and uncomfortable cockpit. This was still very much a luxurious Mercedes, but now with supercar power backing it up. With how hard the power reportedly hits, the name Hammer is fitting.

Oh, and top speed? North of 170 mph.

Exact production numbers aren’t known, but it’s believed that just 30 of these exist. Of the 30, 13 of them were built by AMG North America in Westmont, Illinois. And of those 13, just five are coupes.


This particular example is a 1988 and reportedly had a short life with its first owner. As Ed Bolian of VINwiki explains, the first owner loaded the car up with cocaine and Quaaludes then took off for Vegas. The owner got busted by the DEA and their new Hammer got seized.

It somehow racked up an additional 1,500 miles in federal custody (more than the original owner drove). Then, it was auctioned off and purchased by baseball player Rob Deer.

Despite the vehicle’s vivid early history, it became like many super expensive, super rare cars, and wasn’t driven a whole lot. Today, it has just 19,417 miles.

The car appears to be in almost perfect condition, serving as a great example of not just what a Hammer looks like, but an excellent W124. This listing is incredible and features over 455 photos.

I think that’s more photos than I’ve ever seen for any auction. Sadly, with a current bidding price of $320,000 on the MB Market, I know that a lot of us can’t afford this beauty. However, there are plenty of photos for you to drool over. I make no promises that you won’t get lost looking at them.

This car is also noted to be one of the last “pre-merger” AMGs. As noted before, AMG was an independent tuner. That changed in 1999 when DaimlerChrysler purchased 51 percent of AMG before getting the rest in 2005. The company today is now a subsidiary renamed to Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

(All photo credits to the seller unless otherwise noted.)

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11 Responses

  1. This is my favorite formula for a car. Take a good looking luxury coupes and cram a high performance engine under the hood.

    The only American version I can think of from the past decade would be the Cadillac CTS-V coupe and sadly Cadillac killed it off after just a few years. I’m hoping to get a CTS-V coupe as my next secondary car to have a little fun with. I would love one of these AMG Hammers but my bank account would just laugh if I tried.

  2. And before somebody decides to chime in comparing a Tesla Plaid to this, let me see you try driving your Tesla on the Autobahn at top speed for hour after hour, all day. I have driven some of Germany;s finest this way many times while living there. It’s absolutely no sweat to do so. Those cars are designed and built for it. No drama. I would think the Tesla would fare less well at continued top speed , to say nothing about high speed handling and braking. Remember, too, that this car is decades older. Adjusted prices might be comparable. I like Teslas, but their acceleration is their only strong suit.
    I would love to have one of these, or “Die Roter Sau”.

  3. I spy with my little eye a gas guage with 1/1 1/2 and R as a call back to a previous Autopian article.
    The quote about so many buttons seems almost laughable. I don’t see very many and at least half are HVAC. The Buick Cascada had a lot of buttons. I think modern steering wheels have more buttons.

  4. This old beast is super cool yet also reminds me of the things we’ve lost with current performance cars that need to make a comeback.
    1. Monoblock wheels. Damn, they have aged extremely well.(not necessarily in chrome, though.)
    2. That greenhouse. Would some manufacturer figure out how to give us a decent glass area and proper sightlines and chuck the effing cameras?
    3. Those gauges. Real gauges with dials just plain work. Those beautiful crisp AMG versions are perfection. TFT screens have become de rigueur but are certainly not an improvement.
    4. A shifter that has actual physical slots and mechanical detents. Because what currently passes for shift mechanisms is just dumb and occasionally dangerous for people unfamiliar with the vehicle.

    End of rant.

    1. Seriously, tell me about it.

      1. For the last time: my wheels do not need to be fucking transparent to ‘save weight.’ Please see BBS RS for example. Or hell, Porsche’s “tech” wheels with the hollow spokes.

      2. I get it. Crash testing etcetera. Frankly some of the modern requirements are truly excessive – like having to support multiple times the weight of the car with a single pillar for hours. But you can’t come up with a better solution than making the fucking A-pillars 3 feet wide? The last gen Regal has like a FOUR FOOT WIDE BLIND SPOT!

      3. GODS YES STOP WITH THE SKEUMORPHISM. JUST STOP IT. Give me mechanical gauges in mechanical, digital gauges in digital, and stop fucking trying to make the digital gauges look like the mechanicals. Better still, stop with them period, because jesusfuckingchrist are they fragile and ruinously expensive to fix. Steering wheel airbag goes off, that’ll be $8k and the airbag module was only 1.5 of it. And for shitty TFT. For those prices, it’d better be IPS, assholes. >:|

      4. I swear to god if I find the people who invented these stupid ‘dial’ and ‘little wobbly bit’ shifters, I’m gonna… well I don’t know what I’m going to do to make them suffer more than those fucking things have already inflicted. They have literally killed dozens of people and still they refuse to stop using them because it costs an extra nickel or something?
      And for fuck’s sake. The Jeep WK and early WK2 have a mechanical shifter. In the sense that it is a mechanical assembly with clear indications and detents. Which has absolutely no mechanical connection to the transmission. At all. It’s a 2″ deep box of plastic and circuits. Which didn’t get recalled multiple times, had virtually zero warranty claims (spilling Coke into it is ‘abuse’ or ‘accident’ and not covered, sorry not sorry,) and just worked.

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