Singer hits 80 while Mezger makes 90
Two of the most important figures from Porsche’s past have just celebrated significant birthdays. On 16 November Nobert Singer, the legendary Porsche race engineer, turned 80 while just two days later Hans Mezger, after whom the original Porsche flat six is named, hits 90.
Singer, of course, played an instrumental role in 16 overall victories won by both the works and customer teams at Le Mans between 1970 and 1998 thanks to his involvement with the 917, 935, 936, 956, 962 C, WSC Spyder and 911 GT1 98 racers. Until his retirement in 2004, he was also project manager for most of Porsche’s race cars.
His first major task at Porsche was to devise a better cooling solution for the gearbox of the 917, an area which had proved problematical in 1969 at Le Mans. Singer succeeded. Not a single 917 had transmission cooling issues in the 1970 race. In both that year and 1971 the 917 duly triumphed at Le Mans. In the years that followed, Singer was responsible for a great many outstanding racing cars from Porsche, including the 1972 911 Carrera RSR and perhaps the most successful racing Porsche of them all, the 935. His next most important technical achievement came with the introduction of the Group C Regulations in 1982. In developing the 956, another Le Mans winner, Singer proved his tremendous expertise in the field of aerodynamics, providing the car with an exceptional ground effect thanks to a special underbody design with air ducts and the legendary “Singer dent”.
As for Hans Mezger, he is best known for designing the original air-cooled flat six fitted to the very first 911s in the 1960s. Incredibly, the core of that engine was the basis for all of Porsche’s racing flat sixes right up until the early part of the last decade. What’s more, the ‘Mezger’ engine was the basis of the 911 GT3 engine from 1999 until the Type-991 GT3 was launched in 2013. The Mezger unit was also used for the 996 and first-generation 997 Turbo models.
The engineering that went into the engine was also the basis for the 12- cylinder power unit in the 917. Indeed, Mezger was not only responsible for the 917’s engine, but also the overall construction of the car.
As if that wasn’t enough, in 1981 Ron Dennis and his McLaren F1 team commissioned Porsche to supply a new engine. Mezger was the creative mastermind behind the 1.5-litre, V6 engine that would eventually produce in excess of 1000hp and power Niki Lauda to the F1 World Championship in 1984 and 1985, followed in 1986 by Alain Prost. In total, the TAG Turbo engine, as it was known, won a total of 25 races, plus the two Constructors’ World Championships in 1984 and 1985.
Mezger’s commitment to Porsche is almost as legendary as his engines. He rejected all offers of work from other manufacturers throughout his career. Oh, and he still owns a 911 Carrera 3.0 in Grand Prix white, powered of course by “his” engine. Nice.