If not for a small but highly talented group of racers in Southern California, the Datsun 240Z might not have become such an American success story. While there were political and cultural hurdles to overcome, the Brock Racing Enterprises team was able to grasp the emerging situation at the car’s introduction and help create one of the most dominant production racers ever built.
But this story starts with the man whose vision, corporate power, and trust in this small team made it all possible: Yutaka Katayama, the president of Datsun USA, and a highly unusual business personality.
Unlike most Japanese automotive executives of that era, Mr. K understood the American psyche-perhaps even better than some Americans in similar positions in Detroit. His radical ideas about automotive design, marketing, and building quality and respect into a struggling, war-ravaged entity were not always well received in the boardroom in Tokyo.
He’d actually been “banished” to California several years earlier by Nissan’s highly conservative management in order to try to establish a sales beachhead in North America. He was awarded this position as much to eliminate his contentious ideas as to test his controversial theories where it was believed that an embarrassing failure might not be blamed on their collective decision… read more >