It’s rare for us here at Supercars.net to post any news other than the most exciting new cars, the latest and greatest. Yet, today, we must take a somber tone.
Hans Mezger has passed away at the age of 90 on June 10, 2020.
For those not familiar with the history this man had his special touch on, it is fair to say that without him, Porsche itself and especially the Porsche Motorsport Department would not be where it is today.
He was born on November 18, 1929, in a small village on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany. He attended the University of Stuttgart and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
He joined Porsche in 1956, initially as part of the Calculations Department. Despite the boring name, this department was where valve timings, valve control systems, firing orders, injection sequencing, and pretty much anything to do with the engine were calculated, often by hand using a slide rule and several sheets of lined paper.
Ferdinand Piech noticed his skill and excellence in engineering, and in the 1960’s personally moved him to the Porsche Formula 1 team, where he was responsible for engine and chassis design. In 1962, Mezger’s Type 753 1.5 liter eight-cylinder engine, in his Type 804 chassis, won a Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was Porsches only F1 win.
Then came his most notable, and most important contribution. While still continuing to design race cars and race engines, with legends such at the 910, the 917L and the 917K under his belt, he was asked to design an air-cooled, flat-six engine that would be the heart of a new type of Porsche coupe, a 2+2 with the engine hanging out the rear.
Throwing his extensive calculation and motorsports expertise into the project, Mezger’s first engine was the Type 901. After a few revisions and modifications to make more power and keep the engine cooler, he rolled out the Type 911 engine.
There, in a word, is Mezger’s impact on Porsche. He was the engineer that designed and built an engine so pure, so perfect, that Porsche named the car after the engine code.
Truly, Hans Mezger was the father of the Porsche 911.
And I am sure that many of you out there will join us in celebrating his life with either a drive in your own Porsche 911 or a somber moment to reflect on how one man brought forth one of the greatest engines ever designed, so good that the same basic design is still used in the latest Type 992 Porsche 911’s.