Legendary Porsche Engineer Hans Mezger Passes Away
Hans Mezger, one of the most prolific engineers in Porsche history and responsible for its success both on the road and track, has died. He was 90 years old.
After graduating from university in 1956, Mezger went to work for the German automaker straight away, starting in the technical calculations department and responsible for valve timing, among other things. He was brought on to the firm’s Formula 1 project in 1960, helping to develop both the 1.5-litre eight cylinder Type 753 engine and the accompanying 804 chassis.
But it was 1963 where he made his first huge impact for Porsche. It was Mezger who designed the air-cooled 2.0-litre flat six for the company’s newest sports car, the 911. That design would influence every 911 engine up until the company switched to water-cooling for the 996 in 1997.
The company was so impressed with Mezger that Ferdinand Piëch, technical manager of the brand, promoted him to lead the new department for race car design in 1965. With Porsche’s renewed focus on racing, it was a busy time for Mezger. “Sometimes we also worked around the clock,” he said, “Like in 1965 when we created the Ollon-Villars Bergspyder in just 24 days, and shortly thereafter the 910.”
Mezger eventually found the ultimate success in the department. He was instrumental in the design of the 917 and its 12-cylinder engine, and with it Porsche won the 1970 and ’71 24 Hours of LeMans, as well as dominating endurance racing around the world. He also helped develop Porsche’s turbocharging, making the 917 effective in Can Am racing, as well as using it for the 911 Turbo.
Then in 1981, he was instrumental in the design of the 1.5-litre V6, named the TAG Turbo, that F1’s McLaren used to garner two constructor championships in 1984 and ’85, along with driver championships for Niki Lauda (1984) and Alain Prost (1985-’86).
Overall, Mezger had his hand in every single Porsche success on the track in many different series from the time he took the racing helm to when he retired in 1994. “We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, which he has done for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular,” says Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development. “His innovations for our series sports cars will remain unforgotten forever.”
*Images courtesy of Porsche