Going to dig this thread up because I've finally found some more info on this car - have put together a (draft) article for the next MB club mag. I'd always wanted to know more about this car so was very happy when the car along with some of the backstory was featured on the MB museum facebook page! Also great to have some more detailed pics.
Even as the production of the W110 ‘Fintail’ series was coming to an end, the 200, 200D and 230 models were among the most modern and safest cars of their time. The 230 had been introduced in 1965 and was the first Mercedes in the E-Class lineage to offer a 6-cylinder engine – the engineers had taken the same 2.3 litre inline 6-cylinder from the larger W111 series Fintail and incorporated it into the lighter, shorter-nosed W110 body – to accomodate the longer engine, the radiator was moved forward and recessed into the radiator support frame behind the grille. This gave a handy power increase of 25% over the 4-cylinder petrol model 200 and offered the extra performance many buyers had been asking for.
AMG was founded in 1967 under the name AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (AMG Engine Production and Development, Ltd.), by former Mercedes engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in Burgstall an der Murr, near Stuttgart. The letters "AMG" stand for Aufrecht, Melcher and Großaspach (Aufrecht's birth town). Towards the end of the 1960s, AMG had already made made a name for themselves in racing. But the real success story for AMG began in 1968 with the launch of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3: the world’s fastest sedan at the time, clocking a 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph: the perfect foundation for Aufrecht and Melcher to build upon.
After increasing the SEL’s displacement to 6,835cc, Melcher set about tinkering with engine internals the old knuckle-busting way — new camshafts, rocker arms, piston heads, intakes, exhaust, anything that could make more power was bolted in. It was proper hot rodding stuff. What they ended up with was an unprecedented 428 horsepower and 448 lb-ft of torque. That power was a necessity. Having retained the rear bench seats, air suspension, panel doors and elegant wood trim, the Red Pig was one of the most luxurious race cars on track — but also one of the heaviest. Even after aluminum doors were added to reduce weight, the AMG 300 SEL still tipped the scales at 3,604 pounds. It was an overweight underdog.
Going into the 1971 24-hour race at Spa, AMG looked as if they were going to fall flat before they had even found their footing. As it turned out, it was David versus Goliath, only with an ironic twist in the story. By stunning all who doubted them and finishing second at the Belgian race, AMG arrived at the doorstep of the pantheon of motorsports. In the decades to follow, AMG would adhere to the same ideals of clever engineering and intelligent design that shone in the 300 SEL 6.8. In the ’80s, Mercedes-Benz recognized the talent in the small tuning firm and employed them as the official performance arm of the Stuttgart automaker, becoming fully integrated into the company in the 1990s as ‘Mercedes-AMG’ and now producing performance-focused road cars from the ground up.
But back in the early 70s, a great deal of the work AMG carried out was bespoke conversion work and tuning for road cars – owners would bring their cars to AMG and the scope of the modifications carried out was limited only by the depth of the customer’s wallet.
Such was the case with this 1967 W110 230 – in 1972 this car was delivered to AMG with 109,506 km on the clock. The factory 88 kW / 120 horsepower carburetor engine was thoroughly modified by AMG with new components including a crankshaft, modified combustion chambers, a new cylinder head, enlarged and polished intake and exhaust ducts, lighter drag levers, an AMG camshaft and a two-pipe exhaust system. Bored out and stroked to 2.8 litres and with the carburetors replaced by fuel injection, the output was a very handy 136 kW / 182 hp at 5,600 rpm and 270 Nm at 4,000 rpm. To increase the top speed, AMG reduced the differential ratio to 3.69 instead of 4.08.
The result is one of the most tastefully modified W110s you will ever see and a bit of a ‘sleeper’. With 182 horsepower, the power output is literally 50% higher than the standard 230 and even higher than the top-of-the range 300SEL (powered by the same 3.0l straight six as in the 300SL gullwing/roadster) – in the light body of the short-nosed W110 this gave a power-to-weight ratio of 104kw/tonne – about the same power-to-weight ratio as a 300SEL 6.3 or a R107 450SL! This was enough to cut the 0-100km/h sprint from 13 seconds to just under 10 and raise the top speed from 175 to over 200km/h.
6 ½ inch wide ‘bundt’ type alloy wheels replaced the standard 5-inch steel rims and the car was slightly lowered with Bilstein gas shock absorbers – although there is still plenty of ground clearance (especially by today’s standards). A brake upgrade as well as modifications to the front axle helped to improve handling.
Outside, only the AMG badge on the bootlid, the twin-tailpipe exhaust, the wider alloy wheels and slightly lower stance give the slightest hint that this car has been worked on. If you look very closely, you will see an additional oil cooler mounted under the front bumper (set back and painted matt black to hide it from view!).
Inside, the subtle modifications continued – a VDO tachometer and oil temperature gauge were added, power windows were fitted and the sunroof was converted from manual to electric. All the controls were neatly integrated into the dashboard and door cards. A Behr air conditioning unit and headrests for the front seats would have made this car very comfortable and pleasurable to drive - everything looks as though it was factory fitted.
This car is typical of the early work performed by AMG – very precise and subtle modifications to improve performance, tailor made to the customers’ requests. Looking at the attention to detail in this Finnie it’s not hard to see how AMG’s success skyrocketed throughout the 1970s and 80s. Even today, at the age of 46, the performance of the 6-cylinder petrol engine is impressive – and the car is still timelessly elegant and dynamic - for a die-hard Fintail enthusiast, this AMG modified 230 is about as good as it gets!