The concept of “one person, one engine” seems like overly romantic hogwash — a gimmick in this fully autonomous, robotic era. At Mercedes-AMG they’ve touted that ideal for years: that a single engine builder starts with one engine block, which no one else touches until it is completely assembled and ready to motivate. It seems contrived because it seems unrealistic; it is, however, exceedingly true. And incredibly beautiful to behold.
We were in Germany, mining the country for stories to populate a chapter of Gear Patrol Magazine: Issue Three (a Mercedes beast is immortalized there — check it out), and thankfully had enough time to stop by Affalterbach, where the AMG magic is made. We spent hours talking about the differences between more pedestrian Mercedes cars and their ferocious AMG counterparts — wider fenders here, clever exhaust tuning there — and tip-toed around the engine building facility, where peaceful employees carefully installed everything from piston rings to O2 sensors.
The engine blocks roll around the floor on a predetermined route, meandering through all manner of tools and organized nuts, bolts and engine parts, laid out with characteristic intensity and precision. Parts are scanned and tracked, each bolt’s torque measured electronically, the workers each look as though they could step into a dentist’s office and perform a root canal without scrubbing in. Now, thinking back to all the times I’ve seen an engine builder’s signature scrawled onto the serial number plate of an AMG engine, I realize I’ve paid little to no attention to the builder’s name. Well, my friends, now I’ve seen their process with my own two eyes. The solitary engine builders are no myth. Like kids sneaking into Santa’s workshop to watch their tin soldiers be painted, we got a glimpse at what makes the wondrous AMG power plants purr: the people.