Get to Know Mr. K, Father of the Z-Car

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Jul 25, 2019 | Datsun, Nissan, Z-car

Photo courtesy Nissan

A Z-car owner recently confided in us: Who is Mr. K? Mr. K, we explained, is the father of the Z-Car.

Yutaka Katayama, the first president of Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A., passed away in 2015 at the age of 105. A recap of his career, plus a three-part interview, can be found here. It's in Japanese, but English subtitles are available. Good way to spend an afternoon. 

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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/25/19 4:16 p.m.

My first read of this was "Get to Know Mr. Z, Father of the K-Car". No joke.

OldGray320i Dork
7/25/19 6:09 p.m.

I still love the original body Z-cars, but I've oddly passed up a good deal on two solid cars in the last 10 years. 

First opportunity wouldn't have been practical to get for a number of reasons.

Second one was a solid car, but would've required selling the NB and needed more work than I wanted to put in to it to make it drive how I wanted. 

If another good opportunity comes up, I think I'll pull the trigger. 

Best sounding inline six ever. 

Steve_Jones New Reader
7/25/19 6:47 p.m.


I am one of the lucky few that had his email address and phone number, he was a great guy, and a true Datsun Nut. I found this in a box a few days ago, good timing  

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/25/19 8:16 p.m.

Heard something today on NPR’s Marketplace that Nissan’s stock dropped 99% YTD?!  That’s crazy!


Too bad that other than Godzilla they don’t build a single car that I’d own.  Well, maybe a Maxima.

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
7/25/19 8:56 p.m.

This is a good book. I bought 6 a few years on the clearance shelf at Lane Auto museum and unsuccessfully wasn’t able to flip them so I gave them away. 

300zxfreak New Reader
7/26/19 6:25 a.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Nissan’s stock didn’t drop 99%, their net income growth did. Two entirely different things. But, they are still hurting. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/26/19 8:29 a.m.

Speaking of Mr. K and the Z, there's some good BRE Datsun 240Z history written by Peter Brock himself over on the Classic Motorsports site. 

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
7/26/19 9:48 a.m.

Like Darrin Stephens of Bewitched there were two Mr. K’s?  Nissan never said this was him but it is implied - he touches the yellow Mr. Z car?


MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
7/26/19 3:16 p.m.


aki New Reader
7/26/19 4:47 p.m.

Factoid. Bob Sharp was hired to help design the 240Z. He was a tall, lanky American, perfect for making sure tall, lanky Americans could fit in the new car. He was an aspiring racer at the time. If you shove the seat all the way back and tilt it just so, it replicates Sharp's racing seat position. An injury cut his racing aspirations short. Nissan paid Sharp by giving him a dealership; the only thing he had to do was pay for the sign. Apparently it cost $400, a lot at the time, but cheap for a dealership. He was successful as a dealership and his son became a racer. He gave a little talk to the automotive class I took in high school, which is where we heard a bunch of cool stories. 

te72 Reader
7/27/19 12:56 p.m.

Lot of cool stories around this thread, keep them coming if you have any. =)


Does serve to remind me that we're losing a lot of the folks who shaped this hobby and lifestyle for us. Not sure if in 40 years we're going to have all these cool stories of the committee who brought us the Focus RS, for example. Cool car? Yeah, but I couldn't name a single person involved in making it. Err... unless Ken Block was involved in the R&D, in which case I stand corrected.


You get my point though, the world is a different place today, in regards to car design.

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