There was hardly a Porsche enthusiast who wasn’t deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of Porsche’s favourite engineers, Hans Mezger. It is hard to believe now, that almost a year ago on 10 June 2020, the news was announced that this highly respected and much liked man had died at the age of 90 years.
In recognition of the work that Hans Mezger did during his 37 years at the company, Berlin Motor Books has compiled this tribute edition for Porsche enthusiasts to enjoy. Although he was of course an outstanding engineer, Hans Mezger was also a remarkably open and friendly person and was always happy to converse with Porsche enthusiasts about his favourite subject. After his retirement, he remained closely affiliated with the Porsche brand and the company, and was still the proud owner of a 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0.
A brief Curriculum Vitae
Hans Mezger completed his schooling in 1949 and between the years 1951 and 1956 he studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stuttgart. He knew from the outset that he wanted to work in the field of motorsport and so applied to Porsche for a job. He was soon offered a job in the Porsche diesel tractor engine department but he declined this saying that he wanted to work in motorsport. A second interview followed and this time he was offered a job, on 1 October 1956, in the Design Calculation department.
Within a short time he found himself working on the 4-cam Fuhrmann engine and this was followed by work on the Formula 1 engine in 1960, and a few years later on the 901/911 engine. Mezger developed a constructive and fruitful relationship with Ferdinand Piëch when the latter joined the Experimental Department in 1963. The two brilliant engineers knew what was needed for Porsche’s various road and race cars at the time, and the mutually respectful working relationship produced some legendary results.
Through the 1960s, Porsche churned out race cars and new engines at a rate that would today be considered inconceivable. But, driven on by the relentless ambition of his boss, Ferdinand Piëch, the Experimental Department achieved the impossible by climbing the ladder of international motorsport from a class winner in the early 1960s, to world champions in 1969. While Ferdinand Piëch knew what was possible, it was left up to Hans Mezger to turn those plans into reality, and into race winning engines.
The early 1970s brought about another revolution at Porsche, and in the wider motorsport world for that matter, when Hans Mezger and his team developed the 5-litre turbocharged engine that powered the 917/10 and 917/30 models. These cars, racing in the Can-Am series in the USA, were literally untouchable and ran away with the championship there in 1972 and 1973. In each year, the winning driver (1972 – George Follmer, 1973 – Mark Donohue) scored around double the points of the second placed driver.
Turbo success in the Can-Am series was transferred to the road when, in 1973, the first roadgoing 911 Turbo was launched. Known as the 930, this model was responsible for spearheading a trend around the world where many motor manufacturers added the word ‘Turbo’ to their existing models. The result was not universally the same, however, as increased power and performance must be matched by improvements in other areas of the car, such as brakes and suspension. 911 Turbo posters adorned the wall of countless bedroom walls but more than this, it inspired a whole new generation of Porsche 911 race cars. Through the 1970s, the race tracks were populated by the 934 and 935 race cars, with the 935/78 ‘Moby Dick’ becoming a legend in its own time.
The race cars that followed rewrote motorsport history, and these included the 936, 956/962 and 911 GT1, to name but a few. But it is not the purpose of this book review to list every achievement in the area of Porsche’s road and race cars, the book does that very well!
Limited to just 2020 copies, this limited edition publication comes in a sturdy slip case while the text, spanning some 332 pages, is in dual language (German/English). The layout and presentation is the usual top quality we have become used to seeing from Berlin Motor Books.
Even though Hans Mezger’s work at Porsche covered much more than his exceptional achievements with turbocharging, the focus of this publication is on his work in that area, as the book’s title suggests. The reader will find chapters covering the last interview that Hans Mezger did (aged 89 years), turbocharging technology at Porsche (model years 1975-1977), the years of widened mudguards and spoilers (model years 1978-1989), model years 1991-1994, and the next generation (model years 1995-1998). There is of course deep coverage of all models including some rare ones, such as the 930 Turbo S vehicles produced for Sonauto, the 964 Turbo Cabriolet, the 993 Turbo Cabriolet and the 911 Turbo “package cars” from 1994, whose existence is known only to a few, even today.
Each chapter ends with detailed advice on what to look for when buying models covered in that chapter, and what to be aware of. The imagery is the high quality we have come to expect from Berlin Motor Books, but what is special are the close up, personal shots of Hans Mezger himself. During his last interview, the photographer has caught the great man in some poses while explaining some technical aspect, and these are really characterful.
Should you buy a copy
The author of this book review has interviewed Hans Mezger several times, the last occasion being on a visit to the Museum in mid-2017, and I have special memories from that time. Mr Mezger was a special engineer, dedicated to the task and to the company, and always wanting to give you more than you have asked for. This book captures that spirit and enthusiasm and if you are a Porsche enthusiast, be it with road cars or race cars, then this is an important publication for you to own.
We have no hesitation in recommending this excellent piece of history, and with it being a limited edition publication, we suggest getting your copy sooner rather than later. Without doubt, it will enhance your Porsche book collection!
Hans Mezger was born on 18 November 1929 in the village of Ottmarsheim, a village just 30 km north of Stuttgart. He began work at Porsche on 1 October 1956 and he retired at the end of 1993 after 37 years of service. He died on 10 June 2020 and is survived by his wife Helga and their two children, Daniela and Oliver.
|Title||Porsche 911 Turbo Air Cooled Years 1975–1998|
|Sub-title||Hans Mezger Edition 2020|
|Authors||Andreas Gabriel, Thomas Nehlert and Matthias Techau|
|Publisher||Berlin Motor Books|
|First published||February 2021|
|Images||About 190 images|
|Format||257 x 299 mm portrait, hardcover with slip case|
|Print run||Limited to 2020 individually numbered copies|
|Language||Dual language – German/English|
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Berlin Motor Books