(Motorsport-Total.com) – Porsche mourns the loss of Hans Mezger. The designer died on Wednesday at the age of 90. Porsche not only owes him the air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine of the Porsche 911, he was also responsible for the overall design of the 917 and its twelve-cylinder engine and is the creator of the TAG turbo Formula 1 engine.
For more than three decades, Hans Mezger was responsible for the most successful racing cars and racing engines from Porsche. “The news of his death hits us very much. We are thinking of his family,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Board of Management for Research and Development at Porsche. “We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, what he did for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular. His innovations for our production sports cars will never be forgotten.”
Hans Mezger was born on November 18, 1929 in Ottmarsheim, a small village near Ludwigsburg just outside Stuttgart. He is the youngest of five children, the parents run a country inn. Art and culture are very important to Mezger. But the young Hans Mezger is also enthusiastic about airplanes and flying, and so he sometimes takes a trip to Kirchheim / Teck with a group of gliders from his neighborhood.
The Third Reich and the Second World War hit the middle of carefree childhood and adolescence. And on April 18, 1945, just three weeks before the end of the war, 15-year-old Hans Mezger escaped the war effort only with luck and the bogus certificate of a German commander.
Finally, Hans Mezger continues to attend high school – up to the sixth grade in Besigheim, then until he graduates from high school at the Schiller high school in Ludwigsburg. “I saw the first car race of my life in 1946. It was in Hockenheim where old pre-war racing cars started, including Hans Stuck, which I shot with my old camera,” says Hans Mezger of his first motorsport experience immediately after the Second World War .
Hans Mezger decides to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University, today’s Stuttgart University. At this time, however, there was a high level of demand at the universities, because young men who had returned from the war were given preference in the allocation of study places. Hans Mezger thus uses the time for the twelve-month internship required by the university, which includes numerous stations such as mechanical processing, welding, model making and a few weeks in the gray cast iron and aluminum foundry.
“At that time I was driving a scooter, an NSU Lambretta. Apart from my brother’s 250cc DKW, it was my first and last motorized two-wheeler. I drove the Lambretta until 1960, when I bought my first car, an old and very worn 356 It wasn’t until years later that I came back into contact with motorized two-wheelers when it was time to develop new motorcycle engines for Harley-Davidson at the end of the 1970s. “
Joined Porsche in the calculation department
With the graduation in 1956, there was a real flood of job offers at the time of the German economic miracle. “There were 28. But Porsche was not there. I wanted to go to Porsche, because I was enthusiastic about the type 356 sports car. I then applied, was invited, and was offered a job in diesel engine development. Until then, I didn’t even know that there was such a thing at Porsche. “
“However, I had the idea of working on sports cars. They showed understanding and so I started in the calculation department at Porsche,” says Mezger, describing his entry into the sports car manufacturer in Zuffenhausen. A little later, in 1958, Hans Mezger and his wife Helga married. This is accompanied by the move to the first shared apartment in Ludwigsburg. A short time later, the two children Daniela and Oliver follow.
Then it goes, so to speak, one after the other. Mezger gained initial experience with the Type 547 four-camshaft engine, developed a formula for calculating cam profiles, and in 1960 became part of Porsche’s first Formula 1 project. He was involved in the development of the 1.5-liter eight-cylinder Type 753 as well as in the associated chassis of the 804.
“In this Formula 1 project, I learned a lot about the design of combustion chambers. This also immediately benefited the design of the six-cylinder boxer for the later 901/911. Over time, Ferry Porsche, with its visionary company management, became its human Qualities, his dignity and his great commitment to my role model. “
“His philosophy of racing to be able to build the best sports car for the road was convincing and shaped me and my work for the whole time I worked at the company,” said Mezger about that early period at Porsche.
Construction of the 911 engine and head of “Construction of racing cars”
Professionally, in the early 1960s, the world-famous “Mezger engine” for the 901, 911 and 1965 followed by promotion to the head of the “Construction of racing cars” department created by Ferdinand Piëch. It is the key to a new quality and dynamism from Porsche in motorsport.
In 1965 the so-called “Ollon-Villars-Bergspyder” was built in just 24 days, and shortly afterwards the 910. With its construction consisting of a tubular frame, fiberglass body and the design for the new tire technology from Formula 1, the car became, so to speak, a blueprint for all racing cars that arise in the following years.
From the 917 to the TAG turbo for Formula 1
Porsche also used this design principle in the development of the 917 in 1968. With the 917, the first overall victory for Porsche at Le Mans should finally be possible and once again Ferdinand Piëch trusts Mezger, who takes over the overall construction of the vehicle and its twelve-cylinder.
1970 and 1971 dominated the 917 in Le Mans and in the World Sports Car Championship. In 1972 and 1973 the 917/10 and 917/30 also showed where to go on the winding routes of the CanAm series thanks to a new type of exhaust gas turbocharging technology developed by Porsche.
For the first time it was possible to give the turbocharger a response behavior with which racing cars and production vehicles can be used on all race tracks and public roads. A technology that made Porsche a pioneer in this field and brought Mezger and his team onto the road in 1974 in the form of the 911 Turbo. Many other victorious developments follow. For the Le Mans 24 Hours, the World Sports Car Championship or the American Indy series.
But probably the most outstanding project took off in 1981 when Ron Dennis and his McLaren racing team went looking for a powerful turbo engine for Formula 1. The choice ultimately falls on Porsche and it is decided to design and build a completely new engine and also to attend to the races on site.
This time too, Mezger is the creative head and maker of the 1.5-liter V6 engine with a bank angle of 80 degrees, which should later produce more than 1,000 hp in the race. In 1984 Niki Lauda became world champion, in 1985 and 1986 Alain Prost succeeded. The TAG Turbo achieved a total of 25 race victories, plus the two constructors’ world championships in 1984 and 1985. “It was a great success and, at the same time, the most important development contract for a contractor for Porsche.”
He remained closely connected to Porsche
His closeness to Porsche made him reject all offers from other manufacturers during his career and until the end he owned a 911 Carrera 3.0 in Grand Prix white – a coveted Porsche classic with “his” engine. His loyalty and loyalty to Porsche was unbroken.
He was happy to speak to journalists, technicians and interested fans. The Porsche Museum held a celebration with family, friends and former companions on its 90th birthday. He accompanied events, trade fair appearances and festivities of Porsche until the very end.