Legendary Porsche Engineer Hans Mezger Has Died
Hans Mezger, the engineer behind so many legendary Porsche street and racing cars, died at the age of 90. Mezger’s many accomplishments at Porsche include the design of the original Porsche 901/911 air-cooled flat six-cylinder engine, the development of the 2.0-liter 914 engine, as well as the engines of many race cars such as racing cars 917/10 and 917/30, Type 935/936 and the TAG-Turbo Porsche F1 engine.
Last fall, our friends from Car had the chance to spend some time talking with Mezger in the presence of the oldest Porsche 911, the 57th car ever built. Inside was the eponymous 2.0-liter air-cooled six-cylinder engineered by the engineer, and despite 56 years having passed since the engine was created, Mezger’s passion for his work and for the products he produced always shone.
It was in F1 that Mezger learned some of the tricks that will then be applied to the 901/911 engine, borrowing combustion chamber design tactics for the 1.5-liter eight-cylinder 753 F1 project of the first foray. Porsche in F1 in 1960, just four years after joining the company.
After Mezger’s success with the 911 engine that would bear his name, he was promoted to head of the racing car design department within Porsche by none other than Ferdinand Piëch. “Sometimes we also worked around the clock, like in 1965 when we created the Ollon-Villars Bergspyder in just 24 days and soon after 910,” said Mezger.
Some of the racing cars that followed under the leadership of Mezger are among the most revered in the history of motorsport, including the 917, but also the 907, 908 and 910, and the rally engines of Group C and d ‘Indy as well as F1 and GT races. But Mezger’s influence on the production of Porsche sports cars would last even longer; the design of the “Mezger engine” lasted in the 911 range until its final application in the 911 GT3 RS 4.0. Mezger also worked with Singer to develop a very special engine for the very special 911 custom house, and even created and is patented for a four-cylinder engine for Harley-Davidson.
It is clear that Mezger was at the heart of much of Porsche’s best, most winning and most desirable history. It’s impossible to say what Porsche’s legacy would look like without Hans Mezger, but there’s no denying that it would have been different. We will miss him, but his contributions to Porsche and to the automotive and racing worlds will never be forgotten.
Highlights of Hans Mezger’s career at Porsche
1956-1960 | Technical calculation department within the design office, responsible for checking the valves of all engines, among others.
1960-1962 | Switch to the Porsche Formula 1 project team, collaboration in engine and chassis design.
1963 | 901/911 engine design. Responsible for the design and development of all racing engines.
1965 | Design and project management of the Bergspyder of Ollon-Villars. Management of the new racing car design department.
1966-1970 | Design of the 910, 907, 908, 917, 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine for the 914 series sports car.
1971-1973 | CanAm 917/10 and 917/30 racing cars with turbocharger.
1974-1976 | Design, development and development of six-cylinder turbo engines and type 935 and 936 racing cars.
1977-1978 | Development of the concept of water cooling and four valves for turbo six-cylinder engines of type 935 and 936.
1977-1980 | Design of the four-cylinder engine for Harley-Davidson. Development of the Indy engine based on the Type 935/936. Continued development of 935/936 racing cars and engines.
1981-1982 | Development of a 2.65 liter engine based on the 935/936 for group C (956/962).
1981-1987 | Design, overall project management and further development of the Formula 1 engine “TAG-Turbo – Made by Porsche”.
1987-1988 | Engine design Type 2708 Indy 2.65 liters.
1990 | Design of the 3512 Formula 1 12-cylinder engine.
Hans Mezger Honors and Awards
1974 | The Starley Premium Award (GB) for the best car presentation of the year on the Porsche Type 917.
1984 | Behind the Scenes Award (USA) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
1984 | Trofeo Colin Chapman (I) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
1984 | Prince Metternich Prize (D) for exceptional technical achievements in motorsport.
1984 | Exploit Trophy (F) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
1984 | Caschi d’Oro (I) for winning the Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championship (presented to McLaren).
1985 | Prize of Professor Ferdinand-Porsche (A) from the Technical University of Vienna in recognition of the achievement of the development of the combustion engine. Hans Mezger is still the only person from Porsche to have won this award.
1987 | Special Medal (F) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.