The 8-acre, 90-employee Mercedes-Benz of Orlando dealership in Maitland, a mainstay in the area for more than 30 years, is about to get even bigger. And cooler.
Under the watchful eye of general manager Bob Berryhill – who has been with the dealership since 1984 – Mercedes-Benz of Orlando is expanding to include an AMG Performance Center just south of the main lot on North Orlando Avenue. The project is expected to be completed by spring. AMG denotes the high-performance line of vehicles produced by Mercedes-Benz, and AMG-branded cars are some of the most thrilling vehicles on Earth.
“It’s a big deal,” Bob says about the new center, which will be the only facility of its kind in Central Florida. “It will give customers the opportunity to come in and use a giant screen to build their own performance car.”
Beyond the enormous monitor, AMG vehicles will also be on display. As part of the new Performance Center, AMG personnel will be training the dealership’s front-line staff on every feature and nuance of each new model.
“We are very committed to AMG,” Bob says.
The addition of the AMG Performance Center is yet another example of the sustained growth and recent transformations occurring in Maitland, which has Bob excited.
“Maitland is becoming more of a city,” he says, noting the addition of luxury apartments across the street from his dealership and the accessibility of the SunRail station.
A Tennessee native, Bob came to Central Florida after serving in the military and found the career path he was seeking at Mercedes-Benz.
“It is very professional here, and we offer the best products in the world,” Bob says. “I like to build relationships with all types of people, and this is that kind of place.”
And while Bob is proud that the E300 sedan is the benchmark vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, and the GLC midsize SUV is the hottest seller, the excitement in the air is all about the AMG lineup and the AMG Performance Center.
AMG is an acronym for Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach, which includes the last names of the two engineers – Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher – who left Mercedes-Benz in 1967 to start their own company and develop high-performance racing engines. The “G” is a nod to Aufrecht’s birthplace of Grossaspach, Germany. Mercedes-Benz eventually bought the company, and it remains an independent division. Mercedes-AMG is based in the southern German town of Affalterbach.
While AMG may not be a household name in the United States, or a top seller (Bob says about eight percent of his sales are AMG models), it is the number one selling sports car in the world.
Currently, Mercedes-AMG is creating waves competing in Formula One, the world’s most prestigious class of auto racing. The cars have produced one of the most decorated racing teams in Formula One history. In 2015, Mercedes-AMG blew away the competition with 12 one-two finishes.
What makes AMG vehicles truly special is that each engine is built by hand – and by one person, who handpicks the highest quality parts on the market. Accountability and ownership are so important that each AMG vehicle comes with a plaque under the hood depicting the signature of the engine builder. This culminates into reliability and overall performance that is second-to-none. Bob adds that the AMG line also requires dedicated technicians in his service department.
However, all this fuss does not make an AMG vehicle out of reach for most car buyers.
“In terms of value, if you enjoy the aspects of AMG, it is not all that much more money,” says Bob. He also stresses that the high performance does not mean safety takes a back seat. Mercedes-Benz is known worldwide for putting safety before everything else.
While most AMG models are currently made-to-order, Mercedes-Benz of Orlando in Maitland does have a few in stock to discover including the G-63, a wagon originally built for the Austrian military, a CLA sedan, and a GT Roadster.
Stop in for a preview now, and come spring you’ll be able to visit the new AMG Performance Center in person and relish the experience of building your own high-performance car. Plus, everyone who buys an AMG car receives a complimentary day of driving school, courtesy of AMG.
Indeed, excitement is palpable in the City of Maitland, and Mercedes-Benz of Orlando is leading the way.