This is the man who successfully promoted the original Datsun 240Z to car crazy Americans.
Yutaka Katayama introduced a sports car to the world that, to this day, remains a fan favorite. He's known as "Mr. K" to his countless admirers. And sadly, he has just died at the age of 105. Katayama is credited as being the "father of the Z," the original Datsun Z sports car that was first introduced back in 1969. The news comes from his son, who confirmed that Katayama passed away at a Tokyo hospital due to heart failure. Katayama retired from Nissan in 1977, but before that he ran the Japanese automaker's US division.
Understanding clearly the American love for sports cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Katayama insisted that Datsun (as Nissan was previously called) not only import the original 240Z, but also that it be affordable and of high quality. "With a love of cars and a flare for promotion, he built the Datsun brand, Nissan's initial name in the US, from scratch," according to a statement on the automaker's website. Katayama is survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters, 11 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. His son now pictures him driving around in heaven, behind the wheel of a Z-car, without having to worry about "gas, police, or traffic tickets."