Not that all 911 engines are Mezger engines. The normally aspirated engines in the standard 996 and 997 series are not Mezger engines, and they’re the only ones to have caused the company significant bother over time. Funnily enough, when very special or high powered 911 engines were required, such as in the GT3 and Turbo models, Porsche decided that only a Mezger engine would do, which is why these cars suffered none of the issues of their stablemates. The last true Mezger engine was used in the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 of 2011, by which point its designer has already been retired nearly 20 years…
But let’s wind the clock back to the 1960s. It was Ferdinand Piech who’d been primarily responsible for the development of the car that would become known as the 911, so when he moved to head up the racing department, it was perhaps no great surprise that Mezger went with him.
From there he influenced the design of an entire generation of not merely engines, but entire cars. When you think of all those crazy superlight prototypes, with gossamer-thin glass-fibre bodies slung over twiglet-like spaceframe chassis, you should think of Mezger too, all the way from the 906 to the mighty 917.
Those air-cooled engines really shouldn’t have produced anything like the power of rival motors, because until water-cooled heads appeared in the 1980s, they could only accommodate two valves per cylinder. And yet the 917 in its earliest form still produced more power on 4.5-litres than Ferrari’s best engineers could bequeath the water-cooled, four valves per cylinder, 5.0-litre V12 motor designed for its rival 512S.