GALLERY: Behind The Scenes On Our AMG Hammer Film
Each week with every film we produce we’re going to aim to give you a bit of a gallery from behind the scenes. This week, in partnership with Mercedes-Benz, we take a ride in Jonathan Hodgman’s 1987 Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer wagon along the lakeside roads just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
While today the AMG badge is an acronym known and revered for upscale German precision and performance, there was a time not too long ago when the cars of Aufrecht, Melcher, and Großaspach were produced independently, without official Mercedes oversight, as Mercedes didn’t officially absorb AMG as its in-house performance division until 1999. Though they may have more budget and a wider range of cars now, the AMG autos made before the merger were no less impressive machines. Far from it.
More than a decade before the merger, in 1986, AMG began offering V8 engine upgrades for the W124 chassis—one of Mercedes’s most beloved mid-size sedans. Thanks to its understated but well-proportioned looks, excellent ergonomics, comfort, and solid out-of-the-box performance, the W124’s overall package was a competent one from the factory, but as we all know, everything can be improved. These traits made the vault-solid E-Class of the ‘80s an exceptional base to build upon, sure, but it was a wholly different car after AMG worked their magic, adding to the its capabilities by massaging nearly every aspect of the already exceptional platform.
These V8-swapped W124s were designated as Hammers after some clever journalist coined the term when reviewing the Autobahn rocket, so it’s safe to say the AMG earned its name from the big bad V8s (which would include the 360-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 that made it the fastest sedan in the world at the time), but it wasn’t just the big tuned mill squeezed under hood that made the car such a success; AMG also reworked the transmission, suspension, brakes, and added an aero kit along with their equally blocky 17-inch three-piece wheels. It was the full package.
And by 1987, AMG raised the performance bar once again with an even crazier 375-horsepower 6.0-liter option. Of course, such extensive customization didn’t come inexpensively, but “As long as you had enough zeros on the end of your check, they would do it,” Hodgman tells, “It didn’t matter what you asked for, they’d make it happen.” There weren’t but a few dozen Hammers produced, but rarer yet is this car; it’s believed that our film star is the sole wagon version made, proving that indeed, “As long as you could pay for it, [AMG] would make it a reality.”
Born as a humble 300 TD (Touring Diesel), a Canadian enthusiast was the one who originally commissioned this AMG one-off as a car for his wife. The conversion cost a colossal $190,000 to build, and is believed to be the only official AMG Hammer wagon ever built. Finished in a rich metallic blue over its tan leather innards, its outward appearance, despite the more aggressive aero, is fairly subdued. But, like the wolf in sheep’s clothing that it is, it’s what lies underneath the conservative cloak that counts.
“It’s so different from your normal Mercedes station wagon, all the functionality is there, but at the same time she lets you know there’s something angry under the hood,” Hodgman explains, “It doesn’t enjoy just being dawdled around; it wants to spend time from four to six thousand [RPM], and once you bring it there, all is right.”