Hans Mezger is 88 years old, and his career designing engines spans decades. Mezger’s hands were in everything from the 1960’s Porsche Formula 1 racers to the 911 GT1. His engines remained in 911s through the 997 GT3 4.0 and 997.1 Turbo. It really feels as though everything Porsche produced since is compared to the Mezger flat-sixes. This family of engines defined Porsche drivetrains for decades. While Porsche used boxer engines prior to his arrival with the company, his influence elevated Porsche beyond its Volkswagen roots. Jean Pierre Kraemer of JP Performance and Herr Mezger, together, probably know more about flat-sixes than anyone on Earth. Who better to take us through the heart of a Porsche?
Very few brands are defined by their use of a horizontally opposed engine. Volkswagen has long since abandoned the format, Franklin has been gone since the Great Depression, and many others have fallen by the wayside. In the US market, just Porsche and Subaru remain standing with a boxer engine. Thanks to their low center of gravity and clever management of internal masses, Porsche engines can be powerful and refined, while allowing the car to handle in a stable way.
Mezger’s modesty and JP’s enthusiasm mesh well, and demonstrate the dichotomy of Porsche. On one hand, we have a quiet, clinical perfectionist explaining what it takes to make the car work in the first place. On the other a rabid enthusiast. According to Mezger, his design work was best done at home, when things were quiet and his wife left him to his work.
Despite his age, the era of Mezger is still not over. He is working with Singer and Williams to create a 9,000 rpm, 24-valve screamer for the latest Singer projects.
Of course, while I could go off at some length about why boxer engines are wonderful and why LS-swapped 911s fly in the face of basic decency, I don’t have to. Herr Mezger is here to do just that.