Oh, 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.
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.
Signed Toshikuni Nyui
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.