Enthusiasts often refer to the Porsche flat-six engine as the Mezger engine after the lead engineer on the engine’s design, Hans Mezger.
Herr Mezger engine designs are also attached to the race-winning Porsche 917 V-12 and the TAG Turbo Formula One engine.
Hans Mezger is a leading figure in Porsche history as noted by Porsche itself in its recent press release after celebrating his 90th birthday in 2019.
Porsche has always used motorsports to derive engineering and brand image for its street cars and no where is this more evident than in the original Porsche 901/911 2.0 litre six-cylinder boxer engine known as the Mezger engine. Hans Mezger used the six-cylinder boxer configuration to develop more horsepower while running smoother.
The air-cooled flat-six engine is lightweight and flat allowing for a lower center of gravity in a sports car providing a sportier and more dynamic style of driving. With the Porsche flat-six engine being located in the rear also assists with traction because the weight of the engine rests on the drive axle.
The flat-six design proved to be a good candidate for air-cooling because the cylinders are located far apart from each other and can therefore benefit from the flow of cooling air. The lack of required radiators and cooling chambers in the engine design provided a lighter weight and sleeker sports car design that derived the iconic shape of the Porsche 911.
The name Mezger really became attached to the Porsche engines with development of the Porsche 917 V-12 engine. The boxer engine design that Mezger had established for the successful Porsche 911 would have been too heavy due to the need of two times the amount of crank pins. As noted by Elferspot the Porsche 917 went on to many race victories.
The Mezger designed engine was also the basis for the Porsche water-cooled performance engines featured in the Porsche 996 and 997 GT3, GT2 and Turbo models. Though it was originally an air-cooled engine, Porsche engineers wrapped the case with a water cooling manifold system to update the engine design for these modern performance engines.
The Mezger Porsche six-cylinder boxer engine continues to define the Porsche powertrain more than 55 years later.