Meet the AMG-Tuned Diesel Passenger Van You Probably Never Knew Existed

Mercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMG 7 photos
Photo: Daimler AG
Mercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMGMercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMGMercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMGMercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMGMercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMGMercedes-Benz MB 100 D AMG
We’re all familiar with the high-performance Mercedes-Benz cars that received the AMG treatment over the years. Yet, few are aware that in the late 1980s, the tuning experts worked their magic on a modest diesel-powered passenger van creating the wild MB 100 D AMG.
The year was 1989, and for a reason that is still shrouded in mystery, AMG engineers stepped outside their comfort zone and took on the task of converting a second-generation Mercedes-Benz MB 100 into an upscale passenger van (or MPV as it is called in Europe) that became one of their most eccentric creations.

Nicknamed “Cutter,” the boxy predecessor of the Vito was built in the Spanish plant of Vitoria-Gasteiz from 1988 to 1995. It was available in several body styles and engine options, but the vast majority were sold with naturally-aspirated diesel engines.

AMG took two of those units, the 2.4-liter OM616 four-cylinder and the 2.9-liter OM602 inline-five, and slapped turbochargers onto them. No, they didn’t use both to power the vehicle, as they would do several years later with the A 190 Twin; they simply wanted to provide potential customers with two engine choices.

Mercedes\-Benz MB 100 D AMG
Photo: Daimler AG.
Other than the addition of forced induction, not much is known about the upgrades these powerplants received, but according to Mercedes-AMG, they were capable of producing 97 hp (72 kW) and 125 hp (93 kW), respectively.

As the photos can attest, performance was not the only thing they enhanced. The exterior received a host of upgrades including a redesigned bumper that featured a front spoiler, side skirts, fender flares, and a completely new dual headlight grille. The latter not only made the beefed-up vehicle look cool, but thanks to the so-called bi-focal system, it ensured better visibility at night.

Although it was easily distinguishable from standard MB 100s, the performance version was available with a two-tone blue-metallic black and pearlescent grey finish that made it stand out even more.

Mercedes\-Benz MB 100 D AMG
Photo: Daimler AG.
Dunlop Radial tires wrapped around the 15-inch bespoke alloy wheels, which completed the van’s sporty look. Developed exclusively for this vehicle, they later became part of the special equipment package, and customers could fit them in various sizes to any AMG model.

Inside, the rather mundane cabin got an extensive makeover. The Affalterbach specialists upgraded the seats, side panels, and folding tables with premium soft leather. Optionally, the nine-seater could become even more sophisticated as the list of extras included fine-carpet flooring, a high-quality audio system, a phone, or even a TV with a VCR.

Mercedes\-Benz MB 100 D AMG
Photo: Daimler AG.
Apart from the comfortable AMG-branded seats, the driver benefited from an improved dashboard and a three-spoke steering wheel fully covered in leather. In the back, the passengers were protected from the sun and prying eyes by green-tinted windows.

In the early 1990s, some DTM (German Touring Car Masters) teams who collaborated with Mercedes-Benz were also using it as a team van. That explains the AMG-Mercedes (as it was called at the time) team livery pictured above.

Although it may have been forgotten even by some enthusiasts of the German manufacturer, this outrageous van is a unique part of Mercedes-AMG history and one of the coolest of its kind to roam European roads in the early 1990s.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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