Goertz Myths Will Never Die, Part II

datsun240zOh, snap! Sound Classics has responded to our post titled “Goertz Myths Will Never Die” in which we took issue with the supposed designer of the Toyota 2000GT. Nissan/Datsun fans, you’ll want to stick around for this too.

The question that started it all goes like this:

Question: This auto company contracted Yamaha and stylist Albrecht von Goertz in 1963 to create a two seat sports car. (1 pt)

Answer: Although Toyota eventually built the 2000GT, it was Nissan which originally contracted Yamaha and stylist Albrecht Goertz in 1963 to create a two seat sports car. Backing out after the initial prototype, Yamaha approached Toyota.

Sound Classics stands by their statements and says their quiz was “worded very carefully.” Well, okay. So they don’t say “Goertz created the 2000GT!” but it sure does lead the average reader to believe so. Their wording really, really makes it seem like Toyota eventually built the car Nissan backed out of.

The real designer, Satoru Nozaki, isn’t mentioned at all. Since most English speakers have never heard of Nozaki while Goertz myths continue to proliferate in the English world, this “answer” can easily mislead one into thinking Goertz was the designer. Simply asking, “Who styled the 2000GT?” would have made a better (and harder) question and certainly a better teachable moment. Isn’t that what trivia quizzes are for?

Well whatever, it’s not our quiz. We would have been fine to let sleeping dogs lie, but then Sound Classics breaks open this can o’ worms.

The Japanese Nostalgic Car blog also makes quick reference to Goertz’s connection to the Nissan 240Z being tenuous, at best. Interestingly, Nissan actually released a statement many, many, many moons ago directly to Goertz to help end any speculation or confusion on this very subject:

“The personnel who designed [the 240Z] were influenced by your [Goertz] fine work for Nissan and had the benefit of your designs.”

Now come on! If anyone believes this statement ends question about Goertz’s influence with the Fairlady Z/240Z, they are sorely mistaken. Why not print the full text of the letter that Nissan issued to Goertz?

Dear Mr. Goertz:
At your request, we have examined the relevant evidence pertaining to the development of the highly successful Datsun 240Z which was first introduced in 1969.

You were retained by Nissan during the period from 1963 to 1965 as an automotive design consultant. During that period, you consulted with Nissan on the basic methods of styling a general sports car. You were also the sole design consultant on a two-litre sports car which Nissan was trying to develop as part of a joint venture with Yamaha. This car was not produced.

While it is our view that the design of the 240Z was the product of Nissan’s design staff, Nissan agrees that the personnel who designed that automobile were influenced by your fine work for Nissan and had the benefit of your designs.

Sincerely yours,
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.

Signed Toshikuni Nyui
General Manager
Legal Dept.

This letter was drafted by Nissan to Goertz in 1980 in an effort to stave off a lawsuit Goertz was threatening to file against Nissan. The 240Z success story was still fresh in people’s minds and Nissan had just launched the second generation 280ZX in the US. At the time Nissan (and other Japanese manufacturers) did not have the market share and clout they enjoy in the US today.

On the other hand, Goertz was a very well-connected individual within the US automotive media as well as Detroit, where the lawsuit would have likely taken place. Add to that growing anti-Japanese sentiment in the US at the time, and you can see why Nissan was eager to avoid a public legal battle that would have played out on the pages of every English language car magazine. As it stands, Nissan clearly states they did not produce the car Goertz worked on. And Goertz accepted those statements.

The Nissan community believes that Yoshihiko Matsuo and his team deserves the credit for the design of the S30. There are volumes of well documented sketches and design notes that show the evolution of his designs to he shape we recognize as the 240Z today. If there remains any doubt, we urge you to pick up Datsun Z: From Fairlady to 280Z by Brian Long, or Fairlady Z Story by Yutaka “Mr. K” Katayama and Yoshihiko Matsuo and translated by Brian Long, or simply ask the Z Car Club of America and see for yourself.

Lastly, we aren’t trying to pick a fight, nor are we “offended.” What we are are loyal readers and fans of the CarDomain blog who are just trying to set the record straight.

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This post is filed under: datsun, japan, mazda, nissan, toyota.

11 Responses to Goertz Myths Will Never Die, Part II

  1. Fred Jordan said:

    HI:

    Thank you for helping clarify this story. I was there and know the story also I know Mr. Matsuo well, he designed a logo for the Datsun Heritage Museum.

    When Mr. K was inducted into the Detoit Automotive Hall of Fame in 1998, he brought Mr. Matsuo with him as the designer of the 240Z and on November 10, 2008 when he was inducted into the (JAHFA) Japanese Automotive Hall of Fame Association, he also brought Mr. Matsuo with him as the designer.

    If any doubters would like to see the original pictures of Matsuo designing the 240Z, visit DHM.

    Nissan did settle with Goertz for a large sum of money just hoping he would go away.

    Goertz did design the 310 which was a failure.

    Fred

  2. KPGC10-001218 said:

    Goertz did NOT design the 310! Where DOES all this Goertz nonsense come from for heaven’s sake?

    “I was there…..” says Mr Fred Jordan. You were where exactly? Were you present in the studio with Matsuo and his colleagues…..?

    “Yoshisuki” Matsuo should be Yoshihiko Matsuo by the way…… and he was Chief Designer on the team that designed the WHOLE S30-series Z lineup as seen at launch in November 1969 – not just the “240Z”.

  3. Ben said:

    Correction made on the name. I am not implying that he designed only the 240Z. Of course Matsuo designed the S30. I only used the name 240Z because Nissan’s letter named the 240Z specifically.

  4. Bob said:

    Good job setting this stuff straight! The vast knowledge you guys have on the creation of these cars never stops to astound me. Bravo!

  5. Dan said:

    word to yo mother!

  6. Ben said:

    Gah! Look at the comment by Steve Neil, who now believes the S30 and 2000GT were designed by the same individual:
    http://blog.cardomain.com/2009/01/27/stand-up-and-be-counted-did-goertz-design-the-2000gt/#comments

    This is why we took issue with their wording!

  7. LOL @ KPGC10-001218’s comment.

    ….Goertz did NOT design the 310! Where DOES all this Goertz nonsense come from for heaven’s sake?…..

    I think Nissan have been asking that question for a while.

  8. KPGC10-001218 said:

    Of course the short answer to that is that Goertz himself planted the seeds of these stories ( in an effort to improve his CV and make something useful out of his Japanese sojourns ) and that others have watered and tended the myths that grew out of them. Goertz was in a position to correct the exaggerations of his stories that were written by others, but chose not to. He may even have grown to actually believe half of it. And by the way, I believe Goertz did NOT actually receive any financial settlement from Nissan in connection with the out of court agreement ( although – once again – he told people that he DID, just to make himself sound like the ‘winner’ ) and amazingly people still point at the letter as “proof” in favour of Goertz. Unbelievable!

    If you guys have still got any energy left after all this Goertz stuff, there’s a whole other parallel universe of nonsense going on with the hijacking of the S30-series Z as “An American Car, Made In Japan” ( to quote zhome.com ). This is almost as bad – and just as spurious – as all that Goertz garbage, and seriously needs to be put back into the proper context. I’d say that such work is meat and gravy for a site called JAPANESE Nostalgic Car, with the vision and perspective to see these cars as families of models with shared DNA and interwoven stories rather than the zhome.com schtick of looking at single models for single markets and preaching that there’s only ‘one’ story and all the rest is “irrelevant”. More bad seeds being planted there…….

  9. KPGC10-001218 said:

    Oh yeah, and the 310 was a “failure” according to whom – and in what terms?

  10. HoTWire said:

    It amazes me that this continues to go round and round and round again.

    I get the feeling that even if a definative book were written on the subject, still this stuff would persist. Which is a shame.

    The first 310 wasn’t as awesome as the later 310 ;) … *cough*, just me that thinks that then…

  11. Perhaps he means the CSP311, which was also not designed by Goertz.

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