I'm not totally familiar with early AMG history, only the stuff mentioned as background to their recent history. If anyone knows a good English language book on the origins of AMG, I'd appreciate a note.
What I do recall is that AMG began with a couple of Mercedes technicians who went weekend racing and were successful enough to risk going out on their own. They continued to campaign during the 70's with "unofficial" Mercedes support. Their earliest products were strictly mechanical performance pieces, e.g., engine and suspension mods. These were used by them and sold to other interested Mercedes drivers.
The aero and cosmetic pieces came next and gave the AMG cars their own look on the street and track. During the 80's in North America the AMG "look" was all that was available (except through grey market) due to pollution standards as, like other tuners, AMG did not comply with EPA.
While fully absorbed by Mercedes-Benz in the 90's, I think its clear that AMG will maintain their distinctive flavor for those who dare.
"Lead, follow, or better yet, get out of the way!"E500 owners motto