Like a Monster Raving Loony Party candidate standing alongside grey-suited politicians on election night, AMG has long provided comic relief in the oh-so-serious performance car world.
Mercedes’ fast car arm may have traded its clown shoes for brogues in recent years, with downsized turbo engines and ultra-sophisticated chassis tech, but for two decades the brand stood for monstrous engines, raving soundtracks and loony handling characteristics.
AMG has a long history as Mercedes’ performance division, and that means plenty of choice for the car enthusiast with an eye for a bargain. You don’t necessarily have to spend £88k on the latest E63; as our used picks from AMG’s hall of fame show, there is fun for every budget to be found if you scour the classifieds.
2010 Mercedes-AMG SL63 - £36,000
The SL roadster has always been more boulevard than Blanchimont, but in SL63 guise it was surprisingly athletic. And what better way to enjoy that brilliant M156 V8 engine even more than to give it a bucket load of extra power and whip away the roof?
The SL63 had a list price of more than £100,000 when new, but values have plummeted in the intervening years and early cars now change hands for a little over £30,000. That really isn’t much to ask for a car that combines performance, grand touring ability and handling prowess as effectively as this. Lower-mileage 2010 cars can be picked up for around £36,000.
The 518bhp 6.2-litre V8 is even more impressive here than it is in the C63 AMG. Mercedes quoted a 0-62mph time of 4.6sec, thanks in part to the clever MCT automatic gearbox’s launch control function.
Clever though the MCT transmission may be, with its wet clutch in place of a traditional and less responsive torque converter, some owners have suffered persistent reliability issues. The electronics have been known to be somewhat flaky, too. The SL63 is a brilliant roadster, then, just as long as you can find a healthy one.
2003 Mercedes-AMG CLK55 - £7000
Most AMG coupés look so menacing that you’d think twice about stepping out in front of one when it was parked, but the W209 CLK55 was unusually discreet. It’s only really the badging on the rear and the oversized twin exhaust pipes that give the game away; the modest 18in wheels and subtle front-end styling suggest that nothing more potent than a peaky four-cylinder engine resides under the bonnet. In fact, the hot CLK was driven by a muscular 5.4-litre V8.