By a distance – much faster than anyone else
Hans Mezger – The Porsche 917 Chief Engineer
In 1968, Chief Engineer Hans Mezger and his colleagues develop the 917 in record time. The car is a highlight of his career.
Hans Mezger is born on 18 November 1929 in Ottmarsheim, Swabia. After graduating from high school and completing his studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Stuttgart, Hans Mezger joins the technical calculation department at Porsche in 1956. He is initially involved in the development of the Carrera four-cylinder engine and develops his own formula to calculate cam shapes; his formula makes the cam manufacturing process much simpler and brings huge cost savings. At the start of the1960s, Hans Mezger is also involved in the development of the 1.5-litre eight-cylinder engine and chassis for the Formula One racing car, the Porsche 804, which goes on to win the 1962 French Grand Prix with Dan Gurney at the wheel. After working on the 804, Hans Mezger constructs his first complete engine with six-cylinder boxer for the 911.
Hans Mezger is appointed head of the newly created motorsport development department under Ferdinand Piëch in 1965. Guided by his leadership the department goes on to develop outstanding race cars and racing engines that establish a reputation for Porsche as a world-renowned name in motorsport. The 12-cylinder engine of the Porsche 917 is an undeniable highlight from this period;
the new 580 PS Group 4 sports car proves its might at the 1969 24 hours of Le Mans race, leading the pack with ease until it is forced to drop out near the end. “We were, by a distance, much faster than the rest of the grid in the 917, and the engine ran like clockwork. If the gearbox hadn’t cracked, it would have been an outstanding victory,” continues Hans Mezger. In the subsequent year, the enhanced 917 finally gives Porsche its long-awaited first overall win at the 1970 Le Mans race.
For the 1971 Can-Am racing series, the 12-cylinder engine is fitted with completely new turbocharge technology featuring wastegates, to enable outstanding responsiveness and eventually deliver up to 1,200 PS; by 1974 the same technology has found its way into the series models, namely the 911 Turbo.
As well as making many other successful advances in motorsport, Hans Mezger dedicates himself to one particular customer commission in the early 1980s: he constructs the “TAG-Turbo Made by Porsche” engine for the British McLaren racing team. It is a Formula One engine that generates up to 1,000 PS output from just a 1.5-litre displacement. Between 1984 and 1986, this V6 engine dominates the elite motorsport world and wins three consecutive Formula One World Drivers’ Championships.
After 37 years at Porsche, Hans Mezger retires at the end of 1993, though he remains closely affiliated with the Porsche brand and company today – and is still the proud owner of a 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0. His extensive expertise is still much sought-after and valued by journalists and authors.