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Here is some Info about the History of the Z Car and it's "Father" Mr K. ( this will be Long: From www.zccr.net


Chapter 1 – The Early Days of Nissan



The history and development of the zcar began in 1912 when a man by the name of Masujiro Hashimoto founded the Kwaisinsha Motor Car Company, which began producing a car called the DAT. The car’s name was developed from the first initials of the last name of Hashimoto’s three investors: Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi.

After a merger with Jidosha Seizo Co., a reorganization of the company took place in 1930 and their new auto was named the “DATSON” or “son of DAT”. It was later changed to DATSUN. In 1931 the Tobata Imono Company acquired Seizo and in 1934 the new independent company changed their name to Nissan Motor Company Ltd. The first cars exported by Nissan were to Australia in 1935. Automobiles were considered a luxury in 1930s Japan, so many of the cars produced by Nissan saw duty as taxis.

World War II devastated Japan’s industry, including the automobile business. Many industries, including Nissan, struggled to re-establish themselves. The United States was still an influence in post-war Japan. Nissan had always had a strong presence in the truck manufacturing market and the breakout of the Korean Conflict created a demand for military vehicles and spare parts for the US and its allies. Nissan provided many of these vehicles and the company not only survived, but also began to thrive.





Enter Mr. K ….



In 1957 a young Nissan marketing manager by the name of Yutaka Katayama convinced management that a competition program would be a good way to build name recognition for Nissan and Datsun cars around the world. Katayama had been with Nissan since 1935 and had made a steady progression up the corporate ladder. He loved sports cars and was sure that competition was the best promoter of the Nissan cars. In order to do this, Katayama went over his direct supervisors heads when they turned the prospect down as too risky. Katayama, undaunted, went to corporate management and sold his idea.

He was allowed to enter two cars in the 1958 AROUND AUSTRALIA RALLY. This was a grueling around-Australia rally tour that few cars were ever able to finish. Ten thousand miles in 30 days. Few expected Datsun to show well, much less finish the race. With Katayama as Team Manager with four drivers, Datsun WON the race. Katayama’s career advanced and Datsun Competition was established.
 

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Chapter 2 – Mr. K and Datsun Come To America


In 1957, a young, upcoming Nissan marketing manager, Yutaka Katayama, convinced Nissan upper management to compete the Datsun in the 1958 Around Australia Rally, which they won. Feeling somewhat threatened by this young upstart, Katayama’s direct supervisors at Nissan gave him an assignment they thought would keep him out of the limelight, and out of their hair. In 1960, they appointed him Datsun Marketing Manager for North America. The venture was considered risky at best. Japan was not regarded at the time as an exporter of high quality, innovative products, especially automobiles. In fact, cars sold in North America, would be known as “DATSUN”, not “NISSAN” as to help protect the corporate name in the event the cars were not successful in the US.



Katayama had attended college in America and gladly accepted the assignment. He loved the American culture and was well aware of what Americans expected of their cars. He understood the huge American landscape with the vast high-speed highways that crisscrossed it. Mr. K understood the types of vehicles necessary to succeed in America. He also loved sports cars and sports car racing. With this customer knowledge, Katayama began to press Nissan for vehicles specifically designed for the American market with a parts and service network to support them.



Datsun had been building affordable, reliable cars but without much pizzazz. However, things were about to change. At the 1961 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan introduced its first version of a two-passenger sports roadster, the Datsun Fairlady 1500. Here was a true, open sports car heavily influenced by the British MGs and Triumphs. Initially powered by a 1500 cc 4-cyl.

engine, the car evolved throughout the 60’s into the Datsun 1600 Sports and the Datsun 2000 roadster. Although well received by critics, sales were average and the cars did not set the world on fire as they were technologically behind the world-class cars of the era: the Corvettes, Jaguars and Porsches.

During this time Nissan began to develop the idea of building a sports car that would further enhance its image and move it upscale into the sports car market. Mr. Katayama pushed for a “people’s sports car” one that was technologically advanced, reliable and most importantly, affordable.


In 1963 Nissan retained the services of Dr. Albrecht Goertz who was established as an Industrial Designer with automotive experience. Some of his contributions in automobile design were the 1953 Studebaker Starline, the BMW 507 and the Porsche 911.

Goertz began to work on a sport coupe based on the Fairlady 1600. The car became known as the Silvia 1600 Sports Coupe, which was introduced at the 1964 Tokyo Auto Show. The car was shown once in the US at the New York Auto Show in 1965. It was not well received by the US automotive press. 554 Silvias were produced with none of them ever exported to the US. (At the time of this writing, a fair condition Silvia 1600 is being auctioned on Ebay with a reserve price of $11,500)


With constant urging from Yutaka Katayama in the United States, Nissan then assigned Goertz to begin working on a sports coupe designed specifically for the US market. Yamaha was contracted to provide engines for the car. Yamaha came up with a 4 cylinder, 2-liter engine for the project. When design and engine did not meet Nissan’s expectations, they shelved the project, and Goertz left Nissan. It is of note that although Goertz was not directly involved with the design of the eventual z-car, his influence was felt and did play a part in the final design of a few years later. Goertz and Yamaha built a prototype of the car similar to that which Nissan rejected, took it to rival Toyota and the result was the building of the Toyota 2000GT in 1965. That expensive car eventually flopped in the marketplace and only a handful was ever built. The 2000GT did set the stage, however, for a reply from Nissan.


In late 1965, Mr. Katayama, now President if Nissan Motors in the USA, lobbied for the resurrection of a Sports/GT project from Nissan with concept and design directed specifically to the North American market. A new design team was formed at Nissan with Katayama working closely with designers, stylists and engineers. Katayama loved the flowing bodylines of the Jaguar XKE and the Ferrari GT250 and he made that clear to the design team. A final design team led by Tiichi Hara formed in early 1967 and began the new project, which was labeled “Project Z”. The reason “Z” was selected was because all previous letters had been already used for other projects! (Imagine driving a “Y Car”?)


Toyota 2000GT
 

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Chapter 3 – The Z-Car is born


In the mid-1960’s Nissan wanted to develop and produce a sports coupe designed with the North American market in mind. A 2 seat coupe, technologically advanced yet reliable, roomy enough to comfortably accommodate 2 American-sized people and most importantly, affordable.

A large gap existed in the late 1960s in the sports car market, between the $2000 MGs and Triumphs and the $7000 Corvettes, Jaguars and Porsches. Nissan moved to fill that gap. A top-notch team of designers and engineers worked through 1967 to 1969 on “Project Z”. The result was the Datsun 240Z.



The 240Z was a 2-seat coupe with flowing lines and design considered quite modern for the time, especially coming from Japan. The body style was sleek and sexy, more Italian than Japanese. Modern amenities such as flow-thru ventilation, padded vinyl dash, signal-searching AM radio with electric antenna, carpeting and adjustable bucket seats were standard equipment.

Technologically, the Z featured a 2393cc six-cylinder overhead cam engine (a rather hefty one at that, which got everyone’s attention), fed by dual side-draft carbs, and producing 151 horsepower and 146 ft/lb of torque. The engine was developed from reciprocating parts of Nissan’s 1595cc OHC engine proven in the 510 sedans. In a nutshell, Nissan took the 4 cyl. design and added 2 more cylinders (not quite that simple, but that’s the basic idea). This was quite a surprise to automotive experts at the time as they were expecting a pumped-up version of the 2000cc 4 cyl. Roadster engine to power the Z Car. Power was sent to the rear wheels by a fully sincromeshed 4 speed gearbox. Disc brakes up front and finned drums in the rear provided stopping power. The feature that had everyone talking was the fully independent suspension at all four wheels featuring a McPherson strut design. The car weighed in at about 2238 lbs. All of this and more for a price of $3526!!




1970 DATSUN 240Z

As for how the car got its name, a high-ranking Nissan executive in Japan loved the Broadway play “My Fair Lady” and thought that “Fairlady Z” would be a terrific name for the car (yuk!) as he had already named the roadsters “Fairlady” in the Japanese market. Mr. K was appalled at the name for the new sports coupes and decided that Americans would also not like a hot new sports car referred to as a “Fairlady”. Legend has it that as the first boatload of z-cars arrived in Los Angeles, Mr. K was waiting, pulled off the “Fairlady Z” emblems and replaced them with “240Z” emblems. The new name was derived from the factory internal name, “Z” and “240” from the engine displacement. Loosely translated, in Japanese, “Z” also refers to “infinity” or “no limits” the concept of which greatly pleased Mr. K. Nissan reluctantly agreed and North American cars were to be known as “240Z”. To this day, mainland Japanese Z-Cars are still named “Fairlady”.



Production of the 1970 Z Car started in October 1969 at Nissan’s Shatai factory in Tokyo. Production began slowly in order to train workers on the new design, establish production procedures and to test the first few cars for quality and safety. Nissan built approximately 500 z-cars in October, November and December of 1969. The first 5 cars have never been seen; it is assumed they were destroyed at the factory in testing. Cars #0006, 0007 and 0008 were the first sent to America for use on the Auto Show Circuit and for photos and reviews by the automotive press. Since these were very early production models, they were not eventually sold to the public after the publicity tours, but rather diverted to factory sponsored competition programs by Bob Sharp and Pete Brock.



I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW that today z-car #0006 and z-car #0008 BOTH reside right here in Rochester, N.Y. In fact, car #0006 is owned by Allan Robbins and car #0008 is owned by Tom Bork, both Rochestarians. Ron Cooke of Los Angeles, California owns car #0007. Car #0006 was the first on the Show Circuit and was pulled early because a model had sat on the roof and dented it at the Toronto Auto Show. Car #0008 is thought to be the cover car on the January 1970 issue of ROAD & TRACK magazine which introduced the Z. All three cars are still raced in vintage races to this day. Quite a bit of Z-Car history right here in our own backyard!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Fast Forward


Chapter 9 - Back to the roots….the legend lives on



Nissan management had not correctly assessed the automotive market in the mid-1990s. Concentrating on building bland sedans and trucks, the company fell upon rough financial times. The bright light of the company, the legendary Z-Car, was gone and the prospect of a new Z as well as the company’s survival itself seemed bleak.

In 1998 the French automaker Renault purchased controlling interest in Nissan and installed Carlos Ghosn as president of the company. A group of Nissan designers and engineers remained fiercely loyal to the idea of a new Z-Car and had spent much of their own time from 1996 to 1998 keeping the Z embers glowing. Led by Jerry Hirschberg of Nissan Design International, those loyalists had developed a “Z” concept car that Nissan agreed to display at the Detroit Auto Show in 1999 to gauge interest. The response was overwhelming! The dealers and the public began to clamor for a new Z-Car. This confirmed to Nissan that the Z was a key in turning Nissan around and getting back to where they wanted to be in the automotive world. The 1999 concept car had strong visual cues to the original 240Z, but Nissan knew that the direction the car should take would be decidedly forward, with respect to the past.

Under Ghosn, Nissan began producing some exciting vehicles again. The Frontier, Maxima, Altima and Xterra breathed fresh air into Nissan. The crown jewel of the company was and had always been the Z, so Nissan decided to get back to its roots. In record time, Nissan’s finest designers and engineers developed a second “Z Concept ”, unveiled at the 2001 North American Auto Show. Radical new styling (with respectful cues to the 240Z and 300ZX), technologically advanced, powerful, and by today’s standards, affordable. Using the same successful formula of the original 240Z of 33 years earlier, the 2003 Z provides terrific performance, quality and value for the price. The new Z was a bold statement that Nissan and the Z-Car were back.



In January 2002, Nissan released all the specifications, trim levels and pricing of the new 2003 Nissan 350Z. In a first, this allowed customers to “pre-order” the 350Z at their Nissan dealer and over 8000 did! The 350Z was released in August of 2002 first to those who pre-ordered. The car is available in a 3-door hatchback coupe or a drop-top roadster.


The 350Z is powered by the acclaimed VQ series 3.5 liter V-6 engine putting out an astounding 287 naturally aspirated horsepower and 276 ft/lb of torque. CAR & DRIVER magazine clocked the 350Z with a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds. The most amazing feature is the price. The 350Z features Porsche Boxter, Corvette, and BMW-Z performance at less than half the price, starting at just over $26,000. History repeated itself with automotive magazines and reviews worldwide showering the newest z-car with well-deserved praise. The legend of the Z had returned with a fabulous successor.

So the Z-Car continues its thirty-plus year historical journey. Will the 350Z fire the passion of the original 240Z or have the world-class performance of the Z32? Time will tell. This we do know: If Nissan can once again capture the spirit of the Z; the car will most certainly be a success. Great looks and performance. Great value and affordability. The people’s sportscar.



“Love cars, love people, love life.” – Y. Katayama


2003 Nissan 350Z
 

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