Hans Mezger, the engineering genius behind a number of Porsche’s most renowned racing and road cars and engines, has died at the age of 90.
Mezger’s works over more than three decades with the company include the 911’s air-cooled, six-cylinder boxer engine as well as the 917 Le Mans racer and the TAG turbo Formula 1 engine (with which Mezger is pictured above) raced to world championship success by McLaren.
Mezger joined Porsche straight out of university in 1956. “I wanted to join Porsche because the Type 356 sports car inspired me,” he recalled years later. “So I applied, got an interview, and the company offered me a job in diesel engine development. Until then, I didn’t even know that Porsche had such a thing. But I envisioned working on sports cars. They showed understanding and that’s how I started in the calculations department at Porsche.”
Mezger gained his first experience with the four camshaft engine Type 547, developed a formula for calculating cam profiles and became part of Porsche’s first Formula 1 project in 1960. He was involved in the development of the 1.5-liter eight-cylinder Type 753 as well as the corresponding chassis of the 804.
“On this Formula 1 project I also learned a lot about the design of combustion chambers,” he related. “This also directly benefited the design of the 6-cylinder boxer engine for the later 901/911. Ferry Porsche, with his visionary leadership of the company, his human qualities, dignity and great dedication, became my role model. I wholeheartedly shared his philosophy of racing in order to build the best sports car for the road, was impressive and had a lasting impact on myself and my work during the entire period I spent at the company.”
Mezger was responsible for the overall construction of the 917 racer and its 12-cylinder engine, which dominated at Le Mans and in the World Sportscar Championship in 1970 and ’71, as well the Can-Am series in modified form.
“The news of his death represents a very sad loss for us. Our thoughts are with his family,” says Michael Steiner, Member of the Porsche Executive Board, Research and Development. “We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, which he has done for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular. His innovations for our series sports cars will remain unforgotten forever.”