Datsun's first president in the U.S. and the father of the iconic 240 Z, Yutaka Katayama, passed away from heart failure on February 19th. He was 105.
“Mr. K.” was not the type to mince his words. When Nissan introduced the 370Z a while back, he didn't hesitate to call it an ordinary, overly priced car.
Katayama originally joined the company in 1935 and was assigned to the Administration Department, first handling publicity and then advertising. He made one of the first colour films of a Datsun on Japanese roads and later filmed motor sport races across the globe. More than that, actually, he built the Datsun brand (Nissan's initial name in the U.S.) from scratch.
In his storied career, Katayama was team manager as two Datsun 210s were entered in a gruelling rally circumnavigating the Australian continent. The subsequent victory instantly catapulted the brand into worldwide renown and set the stage for Datsun exports.
His biggest claim to fame, however, was putting together the key concepts for the Z-car, contributing significantly to the birth of an exceptional sports car still revered by driving enthusiasts. Katayama also promoted the first All-Japan Motor Show in 1954.
Retiring in 1977, he was later inducted into the American Automotive Hall of Fame in 1998.