Yutaka Katayama the man behind the instantly recognisable Z series of Datsun sports cars and former Nissan US President has passed away at the age of 105.
Nicknamed “Mr K” by fans of the Z car all around the world, he was also a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame both in Japan and the US.
He was always a consistent innovator, making one of the first colour films for Datsun which was the U.S. brand of Nissan at the time a brand which he developed from scratch.
Katayama retired in 1977 and was often known as the “Father of the Z”, a car designed as an affordable sports car that helped catapult Datsun through the 70’s before its name change to Nissan and the powerful global brand it is today.
It all started with the S30 Nissan/Datsun 240Z also known in the Japanese market as the Fairlady. It had a 2.4 litre inline six engine, rear wheel drive and had a sleek coupe body.
As the car was built to be an affordable sports car in comparison to some other exotic manufacturers of the time such as Porsche and Jaguar it became a hit in the U.S. and proved itself on and off the track.
BRE Brock Racing Enterprises had a lot of success, Janspeed campaigned a 240Z in the European Championships with great results and the winning car in the gruelling East African Safari Rally in 1971 plus 1973? Yes you got it another couple of 240z’s.
It’s also said that the racing pedigree and success of the Datsun/Nissan Z cars started the craze for import performance parts and tuning industry. Without it we might not be where we are today!!
Mr K, we salute you and your legacy.
To celebrate his life we thought we’d share our favourite Z cars…
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