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  • Sporty and stylish on the road: the C 36 AMG established an excellent tradition of powerful top models from Mercedes-Benz.
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    The powerful C.

    The first jointly developed high-performance vehicle from Mercedes-Benz and AMG: the C 36.

Stronger together.

Stronger together! Mercedes-Benz and AMG showed this at the International Motor Show (IAA) in September 1993 with an impressive high-performance automobile: the C 36 AMG, the top model of the new C-Class 202 model series, premiered 25 years ago in Frankfurt. The sports saloon was the first series production vehicle jointly developed by the Stuttgart Group and the sports car maker from Affalterbach.

With 206 kW (280 PS) developed from the M 104 6-cylinder in-line engine, the capacity of which was increased to 3.6 litres, the performance data of the C 36 AMG outshone even the iconic 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II from the predecessor W 201 model series.


A clear message: 25 years ago, the model designation consisting of one letter and two digits was emblazoned on the rear of the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG on the left-hand side.

A clear message: 25 years ago, the model designation consisting of one letter and two digits was emblazoned on the rear of the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG on the left-hand side.

Power pack suitable for everyday life: the C 36 AMG premiered in 1993 and more than 5,000 units were built by 1997.

Power pack suitable for everyday life: the C 36 AMG premiered in 1993 and more than 5,000 units were built by 1997.


Star performance.

The partners responsible for this star performance are actually old acquaintances, because even before AMG was founded in 1967, for Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher the brand with the star was the focal point of all their work. Fascinated by motorsports, the Mercedes-Benz employees initially built sports cars based on series production automobiles and later they turned to the sporty optimisation of customer vehicles for road use.


Very successful cooperation.

The two companies came ever closer via touring car racing, where Mercedes-Benz and AMG cooperated very successfully, in particular in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). The two companies cooperated on development, production, sales and service up until 1990. The C 36 AMG was the first new development in the context of this fruitful cooperation based on motorsports success 25 years ago. Fitting, then, that in June 1996 this high-performance saloon established a tradition that lasts to this day: the C 36 AMG was the first official Formula 1 Safety Car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG – numerous AMG top models also serve in this important function to this day.


At first glance, the modestly designed C 36 AMG may not be instantly recognisable as a high-performance saloon. But by the time your eye reaches the boot lid, it is clear that this C-Class is in a league of its own compared to the sister model from the 202 model series, because the model designation comprises only two (instead of the usual three) digits after the letter denoting the Class, and then there is the AMG logo as well. The character string with the two-digit abbreviation for the displacement quickly became established as the signature for automotive sportiness at its finest – and it did so across the entire Mercedes-Benz product range.


The engine was of paramount importance in the joint work Mercedes-Benz and AMG carried out on the C 36 AMG, presented in 1993.

The engine was of paramount importance in the joint work Mercedes-Benz and AMG carried out on the C 36 AMG, presented in 1993.

Developing the C 36 AMG.

In particular, the experts from the world’s oldest automobile manufacturer and the sports car maker from Affalterbach completely overhauled the engine and suspension in the early 1990s when developing the C 36 AMG compared with the existing C 280 model. So instead of the 2.8-litre model of the 6-cylinder in-line M 104 engine, the 3.2-litre version was used. The capacity of the larger engine was further increased to 3,606 cc in that the engineers increased the bore (from 89.9 to 91 millimetres) and stroke (from 84 to 92.4 millimetres).

Fine-tuning.

Additional methods for fine-tuning included specially produced pistons, reworking the oil spray nozzles, adjusting the intake camshaft as well as extended exhaust ports and an air intake pipe with a considerably larger cross-section between the air filter boxes and intake manifold. The engine control module was also optimised. The result of the modifications was impressive: the output of the 3.6-litre engine in the C 36 AMG compared with the 2.8-litre series engine of the C 280 was increased by 64 kW (87 PS) to 206 kW (280 PS) at 5,750 rpm. The torque achieved 385 Nm at 4,000 to 4,750 rpm.


Power source: the AMG engineers honed the M 104 3.2-litre engine to the 3.6-litre high-performance engine. The image shows AMG engines of the type M 104 and M 119.

Power source: the AMG engineers honed the M 104 3.2-litre engine to the 3.6-litre high-performance engine. The image shows AMG engines of the type M 104 and M 119.

Signature of sportiness: the C 36 logo on the selector lever knob of the standard four-speed automatic transmission in the Mercedes-Benz C 280.

Signature of sportiness: the C 36 logo on the selector lever knob of the standard four-speed automatic transmission in the Mercedes-Benz C 280.


“Quick and unobtrusive.”

During their work on the C 36 AMG, the developers continuously drew on components from the range of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles: the brakes on the front axle of the C AMG, for example, originated from the Mercedes-Benz SL 600 of model series R 129, those on the rear axle from the E 420 of model series 124. The four-speed automatic transmission from the C 280 was directly adopted. In 1994, the magazine “Auto Motor und Sport” wrote the following on the transmission: “It shifts quickly and unobtrusively, immediately reacts to kickdown and thanks to the selector lever surround it boasts effortless manual gear changes. On winding routes not only can this enhance the joy of driving; it can also increase the harmony of locomotion.”


Superior poise.

All in all, the C 36 AMG delights everyone with its impression of superior poise, aided by the sporty-comfortable suspension set-up as well as the traction control equipment. The assistance system makes taking advantage of the engine’s power a harmless pleasure. Customers’ delight was evident from the sales figures:

A total of 5,221 units of the top model from the 202 model series were sold by 1997. Following the facelift of the 202 model series, the C 43 AMG (1997 to 2000) and the C 55 AMG (1998 to 2000) replaced the C 36 AMG as the C-Class’s top models.


The C 36 AMG was the beginning of a superlative success story: together, Mercedes-Benz and AMG developed more and more top models for the various model series. The E 60 AMG of model series 124 joined the range in 1993. In 1999, the Stuttgart Group took the majority interest in the newly founded Mercedes-AMG GmbH, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2005. Today, the passion for performance characterises all segments of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range with more than 50 Mercedes-AMG models, and, since 2009, sports cars such as the SLS and the GT family developed solely by Mercedes-AMG.