The 1980s were a remarkable era for the automotive world. New cars like Lamborghini's Countach and Ferrari's Testarossa were plastered to bedroom walls all over the world, whilst glam metal music blasted from a stereo nearby. Many people dreamt of seeing one of these auto legends, never mind owning one. If you were a financial success, you had many ways to spoil your gasoline-fuelled heart.
But if you didn't want to look ridiculous, whilst struggling to park an impeccable red Lamborghini on a narrow high street somewhere, you could spend your cash on something a tad more subtle, yet capable, and take that to the shops instead. Many dealer super-saloons were available. Things, however, became trickier when looking for something more 'tailored'.
Mercedes-Benz offered a variety of luxurious cars, but nothing ludicrous, as they had not yet jumped into bed with AMG. Having released the W124 E Class in various 2.0 and 3.0-litre forms, it was clear that the W124 was designed for 'wafting' around in comfort. Meanwhile, AMG, although not yet fully partnered with Mercedes, offered their tuning services to turn your W124 300E into the "Hammer" with a 5.0-litre V8, shoehorned from a W126 S Class.
If the standard 5.0l V8 wasn't enough, AMG would take your E Class coupe or saloon and drop in a 5.5-litre 355 bhp V8 from the second generation 560 SEC. The cost would be around £56,000 for both the donor car and the engine. And if that was too boring for you, AMG would take another £30,000 and the engineers would go back to work. It then became AMG's deadliest "Hammer" blow. The 5.5-litre would be rebored to 6.0-litres, aerodynamic bodywork would be fitted, a larger differential from a W126 S Class installed and the four-speed automatic gearbox would be re-configured.
According to AMG, the bodywork, subframe and transmission tunnel were reshaped using tools such as hammers, to accommodate the new underpinnings and the car was thusly given the "Hammer" nickname. Widebody variants of the AMG Hammer, called the 'Breitcoupe', were later built.
The outcome? Incredible. The AMG Hammer, after all the options were ticked, was said to produce 396 bhp. That meant 0-100 kph in 5.2 seconds and AMG said it would even see 190 mph (305 kph). This was enough to force some capable sportscars to positively stress out, if a Hammer came charging up from behind.
It's said that AMG breathed on a total of 12 6.0 CE's, with one selling at auction for £207,000 in 2019. What originally was a competitor for BMW's new M5, simply became much more. Mercedes realised the potential profit and began later offering the 500e as a base Mercedes 'performance' model. And although the 500e was no AMG Hammer, it helped shape Mercedes-AMG for the future, whilst teaching us to respect our ancestors.