• Kyodo

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Yutaka Katayama, a former Nissan Motor Co. executive known as “the father of the Z” sports car, died of heart failure, the automaker said Sunday. He was 105.

Katayama, the former president of Nissan’s U.S. unit, was responsible for the introduction in 1969 of the Datsun Z, an affordable sports car that became globally popular.

He died Thursday at a hospital in Tokyo.

The native of Shizuoka Prefecture, who retired in 1977, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Japan and the United States.

Katayama lobbied Nissan President Carlos Ghosn, who came to the company in 1999 to lead its turnaround under an alliance with Renault SA, to bring back the then discontinued Z, with the model returning to production in 2002.

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