• Sep 21, 2009
Recently one of our bloggers raised the hackles of many a commenter by announcing to the world that he preferred driving a Nissan Versa to the new 370Z. You can hear the whole exchange on Autoblog Podcast #140. To protect this poor blogger's identity, he shall remain nameless (we'll call him Jonny X for short. No, too obvious. Let's go with X Lieberman). Point is, obviously this person is out of his mind because who on earth prefers driving a economy car like the Versa to a Z? Turns out Nissan's Mr. K.

Yutaka Katayama, known to American Datsun/Nissan fans simply as Mr. K, will be remembered for two very important cars: the 240Z and the 510, both of which are now considered classics. Mr. K turned one hundred years old on September 15, but age hasn't tempered his mind. In fact it seems sharper than ever. Talking about the new 370Z, Mr. K calls it, "So-so." He continues, "Very different from the 240Z. First, it's very heavy, and it's also very expensive."

And not only does Mr. K feel the car new Z is too expensive, but that it's not actually living up to the Japanese sports car legacy laid down by the 240Z, "I'd like to have a sports car like the Miata. The Miata is taking the place of the 240Z." Harsh. But check this out, "Katayama has a 350Z in his garage but prefers to drive the family's Versa compact." And there you have it.

Mr. K would like to see the Datsun nameplate come back, and with sportier cars. "The fun of driving cars is the same as riding a horse. We need a car that is like riding on horseback. We are making robots. Robots don't like human control." Even at the ripe old age of one hundred, Mr. K just might be around to see his wish come true, "I just entered the 100s. I have a long way to go."

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req. | Image: MTZC]





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 65 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      1970 MSRP for a 240Z was about $3500, MSRP for a 1970 Corvette was about $5100. Fast forward to today and the difference is about the same...the only time the Z car got out of its own price range was from the late 80s through the mid 1990s when a 300ZX cost MORE then a Corvette.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cool story. I would imagine that Mr. K wouldn't like the robot in my avatar much either. ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        The cars in which I've driven with the most soul was the BNR32 GT-R, and the 240Z.

        Some might hate me for saying BNR32 GT-R, but I hope all will understand the Fairlady S30. When you drive both, before you even get in the car, they call to you, begging for you to find their inner strengths. A stock 240Z, or a stock BNR32, both are great cars, with massive amounts of genuine FEELING.

        Something cars of the past decade have certainly lacked. Even with the onslaught of the BCNR33, feeling was lost... and the soul disappeared. When a car is brought into fruition as new, with character and a zest for life, it will never die... but when it is constantly rehashed, like the new robot 370Z/GT-R, it will never truly give the owner of it the power and freedom as it's forebear's did to theirs.

        It's sad to say, but within the soul of the car, you should find yourself. And not only Nissan... but ANY new cars of late... have I not sat in and felt lifeless, and cold.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rob: you must have missed where he mentioned the Miata...
        • 5 Years Ago
        nah, but that's ok. what a wonderful man. Nothing makes me smile like watching 510s take class wins at VARA
        • 5 Years Ago
        mr k understands that a perfect drivers car disappears on you, it becomes just you and the road

        anything that puts a layer between you and the road is the enemy

        fun to drive factor peaked in '95, all downhill since
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sounds like Mr. K needs a motorcycle.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're probably right. He seems to be after the soul of the car more than anything and, really, he's right. There's arguably no Japanese car out there that can equals the kind of character that a 240z has. Smart guy, Mr. K. I hope to hear more from him.
        HotRodzNKustoms
        • 5 Years Ago
        @zamafir The VARA 510's are INSANE
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think this video explains it all:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeNZluEhydE
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Rich: The Miata hasn't been good since 1997.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with both you guys. I've always argued that lightweight, (relatively) low powered cars are usually much more rewarding to drive. They're usually a lot more involving, and it takes a lot more skill and consistency to wring out a good lap. I've owned several high HP cars (500hp & up) and they've all come and gone. The two cars I've owned the longest are an EF Civic Si and my E30 M3 that I have no intention of getting rid of anytime soon. There are few things as fun as wringing every last bit of performance out of a lesser machine... and if you're lucky, whooping high dollar, high hp cars in the process.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I miss the Z32 300ZX....
      • 5 Years Ago
      Datsun is preferred to Nissan.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nissan must build a lightened Z model and name it the the Mr K edition to honor Mr K's role in their company.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bring back the 510, sold only in manual form. A sport wagon would be acceptable. Do not add anything that will take away from drivers pleasure (ABS, VDC, Traction control, etc, etc). Make it as light as possible and place a sweet reving DOHC 4 cly up front, turbo on the performance models.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This guy is spot on. Cars today are complete turds.

      My 87GTI 8V was probably one of the most fun cars I've ever owned. When a car is fund to drive, you don't need to put 300 HP into it and feel like you own everyone else.

      Any who's driven the latest Clios will fully understand the wonderful feeling of a light car with a decently powered engine.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Think you could have found a better pic? What does he think of the new GT-R
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like the idea of bringing the Datsun brand back. It never sounded right to my ears when it changed back in the early 80's.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Miatas are light, Elises are lighter but Super Sevens are the lightest.

      Sounds like a lot of folks on this board need to get themselves behind the wheel of a Caterham. I'm sure Katayama-san would approve.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ding.

      Like a horse, a car with 500HP should be hard to drive, but rewarding to drive when one has mastered 'it'. That's why Porsche builds the GT2 still. That's why a 600HP Mustang or Z/28 from the 90's will end up being more fun (and easier on the wallet). Sure, the daily drive may suck, but when the hammer goes down, it's pretty cool feeling compared to the traction/launch controlled, electronic steering, suspension controlled, shifting controlled, etc... systems in todays cars--all for a easier drive, more comfortable commute.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow.....to think one feels vindicated by comparing his blasphemy to a 100yr old guy's opinion. You gotta be kidding me!!!! I enjoy reading Johnny X's posts, but that Versa comment was the Bill Buckner of them all. You took the crown from the blogger who couldn't smoke the tires in the Mustang GT.


      Besides, the old man likes the Versa for its value, not for the way it drives. If he has gripes with robotics, go bash the GTR or the rest of the junk Nissan sells that come equipped with CVT's. Sounds to me that he's just giving himself props for his work over the years, for which he deserves the credit.

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