Yutaka Katayama, the so-called “father of the Z,” passed away on Thursday, February 19th from heart failure, his son told USA Today. The legendary Yutaka Katayama was previously the president of Nissan’s U.S. operations, and built the Z brand into the impressive global brand it is today.
In the 1970s, Katayama introduced the Datsun Z, an affordable, well-built sports car at a time when Japanese-built products were associated with poor quality. The Z became an international success in no time, earning the respect of car enthusiasts worldwide. Katayama retired from his role as president of U.S. operations in 1977.
The Z was discontinued in 1996, and saw an incredibly successful comeback in 2002. The 2002 Z featured a refreshed design, an improved, powerful 3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V6 engine, and, in true Z fashion, an affordable price tag. Today, the Z brand continues to evolve and progress while maintaining the character of the car Katayama first introduced over 30 years ago.
“A car is a horse. I want to drive a thoroughbred that’s in tune with my heartbeat, but not something that’s too dressed up for someone like me,” Mr. Katayama told the Associated Press in a 2002 interview regarding the Z’s comeback.
Yutaka Katayama was a giant in the car industry. His spirit will undoubtedly live on through his legendary Z for generations to come.
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