BMW’s M lineup is likely the most storied specialty performance division of a German automaker, but Mercedes-Benz’s history with AMG has lasted longer and, at times, yielded more spectacular results. Part of what made AMG special was that — especially in the early days — there were few cosmetic enhancements to alert onlookers to the car’s performance. That’s because all Mercedes felt like adding to their AMG performance cars was power, and tons of it. The passage of time had relegated the following AMG models to the footnotes of history, only remembered by the most pedantic of Wikipedia-dwelling car nerds. Until now.
C 55 AMG
Anyone with a Forza game or a BBC subscription has surely heard of the C 63 AMG. It’s one of the best-known V8 beasts ever to come from Affalterbach, and for good reason: The current C63 produces between 469 and 503 horsepower from its roaring biturbo V8, and it’s a hoot to drive. However, in the days before turbos were as common as DVD players, the C 55 AMG tore down the streets of America’s wealthiest suburban neighborhoods with natural aspiration and 362 hp, all while its massive 5.4-liter V8 forced Mercedes to use the CLK’s front end on the C 55, since it was just too big for the standard C-Class. As one of the cheapest 21st-century AMG models, it’s also one of the truest to form, with an affinity for smoking stoplight drag-race challengers, as well as rear tires. And it isn’t especially expensive, as you can see here. Find a Mercedes-Benz C 55 AMG for sale
SL 73 AMG
Take a 7.3-liter V12 and stuff it in a late 1990s Mercedes SL. That’s a thing the engineers at AMG actually did — and it’s impossible to believe the original sketches of this car were drawn on anything but a bar napkin. In fact, the 7.3-liter V12 that AMG used to power the mightiest of modern SLs was so special that it found its forever home in the world-famous Pagani Zonda. Unfortunately, the SL 73 was never sold in the United States, depriving us of what might just be the ultimate Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. Find a Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for sale
E 55 AMG
With a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 that was named International Performance Engine of the Year in 2003, the E 55 was more powerful than the RS 6 and M5 it competed against at the time. In fact, it was the single most powerful production sedan in the world until the release of the S 65 AMG a few years later. In addition, its traditional Mercedes-Benz looks meant it still had the subtle grandeur of a staid Mercedes-Benz sedan of its day. Of course, the real gem of the bunch was the E 55 AMG wagon, but only 193 were brought to the U.S., so your best bet might just be a sedan. And a pristine example can be yours for less than the cost of a new CLA 250. Find a Mercedes-Benz E 55 AMG for sale
SLK 32 AMG
Back in the 1990s, AMG was tasked with building a competitor to the BMW M Roadster and the Porsche Boxster S — and the SLK 32 was their answer. The original SLK 32 served as the basis for the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6, but only the Mercedes offered a power retractable hardtop. Only 2,056 of these supercharged hand-built V6 roadsters made it to the United States, and one can be yours for as little as $13,000. And you can even mention to accusatory friends who may be jealous of your AMG roadster that your SLK shares a heritage — and wheelbase length — with the legendary 300SL Gullwing. Find a Mercedes-Benz SLK 32 AMG for sale
R 63 AMG
So your kids have soccer practice in 20 minutes. You still need to feed them, get them in the car and drive across town to the field. There’s no way you could do this in any ordinary minivan. Good thing you don’t have an ordinary minivan. Because you’re the cool parent, your minivan has 503 horsepower that can propel your parent-mobile from zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds. Being the "cool parent" with the minivan that’s faster than the coach’s Charger definitely has its perks, and the other parents in your carpool will love you for always getting their kid to practice on time. Nowadays, the R-Class is built in Indiana by the company behind the original Humvee for the Chinese market only, but you can still find some good examples of the single model year the R 63 was produced — like this debadged example, which would make the perfect sleeper. Find a Mercedes-Benz R 63 AMG for sale
CL 65 AMG
Have you ever wanted a sports car that has the length of a Suburban, the width of a Range Rover, the torque of a HD Ram truck and the power of God? If you answered yes to all of those questions, the CL 65 AMG is basically the only car that exists for you. With the arrival of the stunning new S-Class Coupe — and the decades-long tradition of massive engines in Mercedes-Benz’s flagship luxury sedans — the CL-Class has fallen through the cracks in the minds of enthusiasts and buyers. However, with a hand-built twin-turbocharged V12 and over 600 horsepower on tap, the CL65 AMG deserves to be remembered for the beautifully excessive monster it was. Find a Mercedes-Benz CL-Class for sale
Andrew Murray and Seamus Cassidy are the founders of RedLine, a car blog that administers a daily dose of motoring journalism aimed at the car enthusiast. They can be found at RedLineCarBlog.com.