If there was one car that finally convinced Mercedes-Benz to launch a sportscar division, it would be this 560SEC Widebody.
The car proved the global appeal of the AMG formula: giant power, wild style and exclusivity to shade any M5 — that upstart sports badge recently launched in full by rival BMW.
At this time, BMW was just spreading its wings — and eating into market share — of its dominant German rival. Audi, as we know, was a total also-ran in the luxury segment throughout the 80s. It went from ultra-pricey models like the 5000 to a hard reboot for cheap, friendly and stylish cars like the A4 in the first half of the 1990s.
This AMG 560SEC has led an exceptionally gentle life: just 56k miles from new and a residence in salt-free Japan ensures stunning quality levels for a car that just turned 26 years old.
We would not be surprised if Mercedes-AMG bought this car back for its main collection, which is pretty light on authentic AMG models. The iconic four-door S-Class modified for racing in the early 1970s is long lost — the car Merc trots out for photoshoots is a recreation.
This stunning machine would look outstanding beside the new S65 and S63 AMG Coupes — which are the first truly desirable and sporty two-doors at the top of the Mercedes range since this beast bowed out by 1991.
Mercedes would roll this engine and most of this AMG style into its 500E ‘Hammer’ and 1993 C63 AMG before taking the entire operation in-house by the end of the decade.
1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC 6.0 AMG Widebody
1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC 6.0 AMG ‘Wide Body’
- Chassis no. WDB1260451A436448
- Engine no. 382 60 28
385 hp, 6.0-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8 engine with multi-point fuel injection, five-speed automatic transmission, independent front and rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
- Most desirable tuner upgrade available for Mercedes-Benz in the period
- AMG-modified body; in excellent original condition
- Original AMG-upgraded 6.0-liter DOHC engine
Before the AMG company was a subsidiary of Daimler AG, it was an independent tuner company that had been established in 1967 by Daimler-Benz engineers Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher (the G is from Grossaspach, Aufrecht’s birthplace) to modify engines and sell performance accessories that customers could use to upgrade their Mercedes-Benz automobiles. By the late 1980s, this business had reached the stage where customers were special-ordering fully modified automobiles developed by AMG in its plant in Affalterbach, Germany. Though the two companies were cooperating to the extent that the AMG cars were being delivered with full company warranties through Mercedes-Benz dealers, the first joint product, the AMG C36, would not be introduced until 1993.
Introduced in 1990, the 560 SEC AMG was perhaps the most fabled of these “pre-merger” upgraded automobiles. The car was powered with a 6.0-liter engine, designed and built at Affalterbach using AMG custom quad-cam head with four valves per cylinder, producing twice the torque at half the engine speed of the original 5.6-liter Mercedes-Benz engine. On the outside, the car was fitted with distinctive AMG-designed front and rear fenders and door panels that allowed much wider wheels and tires to be fitted, inspiring the nickname “Wide Body.”
The cost of the AMG 560 SEC 6.0, including the original automobile, with the upgraded engine, body panels, suspension pieces, and assembly, was a breath-taking $200,000. Nevertheless, waiting lists rapidly developed for the few that would be produced. Initial plans were for 100 units, but experts today believe that fewer than 50 were actually built. It is also believed that only six such vehicles were ordered by private collectors and museums in Japan in 1990, though it would be another two years before these cars began to appear at Japanese car shows and in the enthusiast press.
Documentation of the car offered here indicates it was built by AMG with engine number 382 60 28, indicating it was the 28th unit produced. As it appears today, it was finished in silver with a black leather interior with matching black carpeting, which shows only minor wear and careful use throughout. After initial delivery and road-registration to Japan, this example remained carefully conserved and preserved in the care of an obsessive Japanese enthusiast, during which time it covered just over 90,000 kilometers (56,000 miles).
All services have been recently completed, and the car has been fully safety checked and inspected, with a current United States title, license, and registration. This is one of the few surviving examples of this unusual model to come into the secondary market for sale, and it offers a rare opportunity to own a Mercedes-Benz AMG that can be shown with pride and driven for serious high-performance pleasure.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.