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Yutaka Katayama, 'father Of The Z' Nissan Sports Car, Dies At 105

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Unfortunately - and this is something that we are going to see more and more of - it revives and repeats several stories that are just plain falsehoods.

 

Yutaka Katayama's life story is unique, fascinating and extraordinary. It doesn't need all the hyperbole and misattributions. I just read a Facebook post thanking him for "creating" the Fairlady roadsters, 510 and 240Z. It's verging on Cargo Cult worship. Ridiculous. 

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It's like saying Jack Nicklaus invented the golf ball!

 

That's what happens when people think you only get real facts via the Internet.

 

The Z is a well-known "Brand?"  (from the Jalopnik story.

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Someone on the Jalopnik story page said:

Nissan should do his legacy proud by making a Z that goes back to his original formula.

 

But I don't think  it'll ever happen. 

 

EPA, and safety regulations subdue the design goals anyone could ever have- for a commercial production car.    Building a brand-new 240Z might be a nice thought as well as a possibility with today's production tools, but  bad drivers and EPA regs spoil it all, unless you just want ONE prototype.  Which would be nice, with an aluminum engine, better/lighter suspension and lighter chassis (lighter everything!)  Nissan is just too busy making aeroynamic racecars with bumpers and electronic-everything  (350Z and 370Z) to bother with a sportscar that is just light, with two seats and goes, and has a heater, and maybe a radio.

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Alan,

I wasn't trying to suggest he designed the car. I was thinking more along the lines that he would have had some input into the products that were created and what they would look like... I may be wrong.

Charles

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Unfortunately - and this is something that we are going to see more and more of - it revives and repeats several stories that are just plain falsehoods.

 

Yutaka Katayama's life story is unique, fascinating and extraordinary. It doesn't need all the hyperbole and misattributions. I just read a Facebook post thanking him for "creating" the Fairlady roadsters, 510 and 240Z. It's verging on Cargo Cult worship. Ridiculous. 

Experts should never ready any media (including social media) on the topic of their expertise. :) People will always conflate the myths and falsehoods with the truth. It gets mixed well so that you can no longer distinguish one from the other. While I hear the tales being told and know they aren't completely true, I can smile and enjoy them nevertheless.

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I got to meet and talk to Mr K in 1972 at Road America. A friend from our local sports car club ask me if I wanted to

come down to the track on Thursday and help set up a big tent with tables and chairs. The area Datsun Dealers got this

put together and this same friend was a salesman at one of these Dealerships. It was July and BRE brought 3 510's

to the track for the 2.5 Trans Am Series. As my buddy put it, we got the "big guy" from Datsun USA here and we are

going to show him a good time. He goes, we rented him a condo in town (Elkhart Lake). I didn't even know who

this Mr K was at the time. Plus I was driving a TR6 at the time. Now I can say it since his passing that the Datsun Dealers

set up a party for MR K on Friday and Saturday nite after leaving the track. As a suprise they got some strippers up

from Milwaukee for some entertainment. Well I understand he had the best time of his life. He really, really

liked his surprise guests. Ha.

On Saturday I was standing at the fence with a beer and a brat watching the 510's practice and qualifying. Next thing Mr K walks

up and stands next to me with his own beer and bratwurst and starts a conversation. Wow.

This was a really down to earth guy that really did like people. He really liked beer and famousGerman  Wisconsin bratwurst.

I wish I could remember exactly how he put it but he says to me something poetic like beer is to bratwurst  like bratwurst

is to beer. Anyway it sounded exactly what a person from Japan would come up with.

Never forgot that day. A few years later I found and purchsed a one owner 72 240Z and still have it.

  • Like 3

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Thank you Mr. K for your personal efforts to expand the Z car market in the USA. Otherwise they might be as rare as Skylines, Cosmos, and GT2000's are here, and most of us would probably not be driving these cars today.

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He was also a great Rotte Race Team Manager.

 

If you're talking about the 1958 Mobilgas Trial, it was actually Yasuharu NAMBA who was the race team manager.

 

I can't think of any other instance when Katayama was a race team manager.

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  I always sensed the notion that Ford would like to forget that they ever built those.........

There is a Mustang II club here with about 50  members, and ever one of the cars is superbly restored or customized with the latest stuff.  They get a good response everywhere they go. 

Edited by TomoHawk

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It's because there are so many people that know about him, but have never cared to read, carefully or otherwise, any of the biographical texts, so they don't really "know" him.  At least we know the facts.

Edited by TomoHawk

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Thank you, Mr K.  I know without your management and dedication this car probably would have been stuck in Japan.

that's a good point. Please start a new topic to discuss that, but not right now. ("what would we be driving if there was no Mr. K, or the Z.")

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I remember the first time I "interacted" with him.  It was during a Skype video-call  at the 2008 ZCON.  Participants were able to get up to the microphone (a computer with a webcam setup) and ask him questions in real-time.  I didn't ask a question, but I was there, and he did pick out a few people, like "Mad-Mike,"  our club liaison Yoichi (who set up the call) and some other people he recognized.

 

Since then, we had a video-call to him at each Z meet hosted by the Cleveland club, and I think most of the ZCONs since 2008 did likewise.

 

A few people from the Cleveland club made a trip to the Nissan museum in Japan, and visited Mr. K as well.  Has anyone else met him personally since 2008?  I mention 2008 because after the 2008 ZCON his doctor wouldn't let him travel abroad.  He said he was sad about that, because he wanted to visit the Ohio Z meet, since our club visited him.

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There is a Z very close to my home that has Mr. K signature on one of the inspection doors , post-29305-0-93743200-1424654723_thumb.j A very nice touch of DATSUN history  on a Z, and a lucky Z owner to have this on his car.

Edited by Z fan

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I love the 240Z I purchased as  I mentioned in my earlier post or I would have sold it by now.

What I wish was that I could have kept the TR6 as well. It was the first year they came out.

As it turns out the 240Z carbies are a direct bolt on to replace the origional anemic Zeinth

Stromberg carbies. That is the one mod I would have made to it to make that old British

car run like it should have. Some trivia.

OK I'm done off topic now so It doesn't get removed.

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Somewhere I have a picture of Mr. K at the car show in 1999 that I mentioned earler.  Been looking for it since this thread began.  Hope it didn't get lost in one of our moves.

 

So far, all I've been able to find is a picture of me next to a life sized cutout of him at the Heritage Museum......I doubt that anyone wants to see that.

Edited by sblake01

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I don't think he ever got east of the Mississippi,

Mr. K was in Syracuse for the 2005 ZCCA convention.  Steve Millen took both Mr. and Mrs. K for hot laps around Watkins Glen.  I think that was the last ZCCA convention he attended.

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I was thinking that with the passing of Mr. K, it might prompt Jay Leno to do a special segment on the 240Z.

One of his local car guys must have a series 1 car that he can bring over to the garage, like the tonight show guy with the 510.

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^^^ Mr. Leno has a video on the Fairlady Z when he visited Japan and feature what might be coming from Nissan as a future tribute to the 240Z . 

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