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The artistic spirit

“At Le Mans in 1969 we were a whole lot faster than a foe with a 917. If a delivery housing hadn’t cracked, we would have won comfortably.”
Hans Mezger on a initial Le Mans tour of a still-fledgling 917.

When a motorsport fan recalls a list of a superb designers of competition cars and racing engines, not many names come up. However, one is always among them and for many fans and experts he is a tip name: Hans Mezger, engineer of a air-cooled six-cylinder fighter engine of a Porsche 911, altogether engineer of a 917 and a V12 with a 180 grade bank angle, and creator of a TAG Turbo Formula One engine. Hans Mezger and his portfolio of work have prolonged given turn legendary. But initial things first. Hans Mezger was innate on Nov 18, 1929 in Ottmarsheim, a tiny encampment nearby Ludwigsburg on a hinterland of Stuttgart. The youngest of 5 children, his relatives ran a nation inn.

Art and enlightenment were unequivocally critical to a Mezger household. “Almost everybody in a family had a talent for portrayal and played a low-pitched instrument,” says Mezger, looking behind on his childhood and youth. “I found life sparkling and attended facile school. we was meddlesome in apropos all kinds of things, from a musician to a physicist.”  Aeroplanes and drifting also preoccupied a immature Hans from an early age, and he spasmodic undertook a outing to Kirchheim/Teck with a organisation of gliding enthusiasts from his neighbourhood, where he would watch a bungee launches of a school’s glider, a SG-38, with fascination. “I unequivocally wanted to fly myself, though we was still too immature then,” he remembers.


Daytona 1968: Peter Falk, Hans Mezger, Helmuth Bott, Rolf Stommelen, Huschke von Hanstein, Joe Buzzetta, Hans Herrmann, Vic Elford and Gerhard Mitter.

The Third Reich, and a second universe war, came right in a center of his untroubled childhood and adolescence and assemblage during abbreviation school. On Apr 18, 1945, usually 3 weeks before a finish of a second universe war, Mezger usually transient portion in a fight by a cadence of fitness and a calculated medical certificate from a German commander. Since a design, construction and operation of aircraft were criminialized by a Allies – gliding was usually probable again in 1951 and motorised moody in 1955 – an aviation career was out of a doubt for Mezger. “That would have meant watchful too long, so we motionless to investigate automatic engineering during a Technical University, now a University of Stuttgart,” recalls a Swabian, who always found arithmetic utterly easy.

“Maybe it was a champagne, though we had a sharp-witted contention about either a Porsche engine or a McLaren framework had won a initial Grand Prix. We joked and found that a word ‘Engineer’ was after all subsequent from ‘Engine’.”
Hans Mezger on a initial feat of a McLaren TAG Turbo in Rio de Janeiro 1984.


Hans Mezger: (second from left) In 1960 with a initial Porsche 753 Formula One engine and his colleagues Hans Hönick (above a engine), Eberhard Storz, Helmut Heim and Rolf Schrag.

His graduation in 1956 was accompanied by a undoubted inundate of pursuit offers. “There were 28,” he says, “but Porsche was not one of them. But we wanted to join Porsche, since a Type 356 sports automobile desirous me. So we applied, was invited, and a association offering me a pursuit in tractor development. But we envisioned operative on sports and competition cars. Fortunately, that worked out in a end, and we started in a calculation dialect during Porsche.”


Hans Mezger (on a right by a automobile wearing a white shirt) when John Watson initial gathering a TAG Turbo in a McLaren framework on Jun 29, 1982

Things afterwards happened one after a other, so to speak. Hans Mezger gained his initial knowledge with a four-camshaft engine, grown a regulation for calculating cam profiles and became partial of Porsche’s initial Formula One plan in 1960. He was concerned in a growth of a 1.5-litre eight-cylinder Type 753 as good as a analogous framework of a 804. “The association was still so tiny during that time, there was utterly a lot of overlapping work and a staff operative on a engines infrequently also worked on a chassis,” says a 89-year-old.

Ferry Porsche (right) became a purpose indication for Hans Mezger. Here he is decorated together with Peter Falk (middle) during a Solitude in 1962.

Then came a world-famous ‘Mezger engine’ for a 901 and 911 and, in 1965, a graduation to conduct of a racing growth dialect combined by Ferdinand Piëch. This dialect was a pivotal to a new peculiarity and impetus in motorsport for Porsche. It was an exciting, furious time in a mid-1960s. “Sometimes we also worked around a clock,” Mezger says. “For example, when a supposed Ollon-Villars-Spyder was combined in usually 24 days in 1965.” With a construction of a tubular support and fibreglass body, it became a plans for all a competition cars that were built in a years to follow.

Porsche also relied on this pattern element for a growth of a 917 in 1968. With a 917, a initial altogether feat for Porsche during Le Mans was now finally possible, and once again Ferdinand Piëch relied on a skilfulness of Hans Mezger, who took over a altogether construction of a car and a 12-cylinder engine. In 1970 and 1971, a 917 dominated during Le Mans and a World Sportscar Championship; in 1972 and 1973, a 917/10 and 917/30 showed a approach in a CanAm array interjection to turbocharging –  record that Mezger and his group brought to array prolongation in 1974 in a form of a 911 Turbo.


Niki Lauda translated Hans Mezger’s TAG Turbo pattern into feat in a Formula One World Championship in 1984. McLaren and a Porsche engine won 12 out of 16 races during a time and Lauda became World Champion by usually half a indicate forward of his teammate Alain Prost.

Many other winning developments followed: for a 24 Hours of Le Mans, a World Sportscar Championship and a US Indy series. But maybe a many superb plan took off in 1981 when Ron Dennis and his McLaren racing group set out in hunt of a absolute turbo engine. In a end, Porsche was selected and a preference was done to pattern and build a totally new engine, as good as to yield on-site support during a races. Again, Hans Mezger was a artistic designer behind a 1.5-litre, V6 engine with an 80 grade bank angle, that would furnish some-more than 1,000 PS after in a race. In 1984, Niki Lauda became universe champion with this, followed in 1985 and 1986 by Alain Prost. The group also won a dual Constructors’ World Championships in 1984 and 1985. “This was a extensive success and, during a same time, a many critical growth agreement for Porsche from an outmost company,” adds Mezger, who late in 1993 and is still closely compared with Porsche today.

Info

Text initial published in a repository „Porsche Klassik“, special book „8 generations 911“.

Text by Jürgen Gassebner
Photos by Historical archive, Porsche AG

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