AFFALTERBACH, Germany - It looks almost like a small-town garage where mechanics are pulling out engines and replacing brakes.
But the cluster of old brick buildings that make up Mercedes-AMG GmbH is anything but small-time. A 32-year-old German customizing shop, AMG is emerging as the polish on one of the world's most prestigious brands.
Though AMG-branded Mercedes vehicles represent a tiny share of the brand's world sales, the automaker sees big potential in them. The race car-like features add cachet to respectable luxury sedans. AMG appeals to high-end shoppers who want something extra.
In January, DaimlerChrysler AG stepped in and bought a controlling interest in the shop, and now Mercedes-AMG has orders to build customized versions of nearly every vehicle the brand offers.
Late this year, Mercedes dealers will even begin offering the ML55 AMG - a 350bhp version of the Alabama-built M-class. The sport-utilities get engines and racing exhaust systems that are hand-crafted in this farming town on the outskirts of Stuttgart.
AMG sees big growth ahead. This year the shop will turn out 6,000 cars for worldwide sales. Next year, it forecasts volume of 8,500 units - a 40 percent jump.
For the two years after that, even more growth is expected as Mercedes delivers more models for AMG branding.