Dear "Z" Enthusiasts:
Good Evening and here I am. I prepared 3 speeches, one if for one minute, another is about 10 minutes and third one is just too long, so let's compromise for the middle one - and whenever you get bored, just whistle.
I went to the US in 1936 and did all kinds of odd jobs. In 1939 I rented a small body shop and modified Fords, the beginning of the Hot Rod era, it was a corrugated metal shack on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. This just started to work but in 1940 I was drafted into the U.S. Army. Five years never in Europe and part of the time in the South Pacific. After my discharge I slowly got used to civilian life and again all kinds of odd jobs. In 1949 I met Raymond Loewy, his was the No. 1 design office in the U.S.. I managed to talk him into letting me be an apprentice for 3 months in his Design Department at Studebaker, in South Bend, Indiana. I stayed for a little more than 3 years, this was possibly the best education into design one could get.
I started my own 1 man design office in New York in 1951 and in 1953 I began to work also in Europe. All my work was done in New York but my routine called for a trip to Europe every 3 months. My breakthrough came in September of 1955 at the Frankfurt Auto Show where my two BMW's, the 507 and the 503, were introduced.
It was New Years Eve in 1961 in New York, we had a few friends in to celebrate and I believe it was my wife who ask me; "What is your New Year's resolution?"; without thinking I answered; "I am going to go to Japan. In about a weeks time I found out that there was absolutely no information available concerning Japanese industry, either at the Japanese Consulate or at the Japanese Information center. It was the middle of January and so I took off for Tokyo. I was well aware that I did not know a soul there nor did I have any idea of what to expect.
I made a reservation at the Imperial Hotel and was informed by the Airline to tell the taxi driver "Tekoko Hotel" the name in Japanese. There was no possibility of communication with the driver, all you got was a lot of smiles. I felt completely lost.
First thing next morning I arranged for an interpreter. We spent several days going to showrooms, department stores, etc. to find out who makes cars, camera's, electronic equipment, appliances etc.
This was in 1962 and Japan was just starting to export transistor radios, their first major export item. We gathered about a dozen names of manufacturers and I ask my interpreter to try and get the names of the Presidents and their addresses. Even this was difficult as there were no directories, so a lot of telephoning was necessary. While my interpreter was busy getting that information I walked around Tokyo, trying to get an idea and a feeling about Japan and the Japanese. The information the interpreter got was of course in Japanese and translation of names and addresses is one of those things - one has to be an optimist and hope for the best.
So, Good-bye Tokyo and back to New York. I started to write letters, nobody ever believed me, but the only way I got clients was by writing letters. In my letters I mentioned that I was going to return to Tokyo in 3 months and also gave the week and that on arrival in Tokyo, my interpreter will call and ask for an appointment.
On my second trip I hired a young Japanese who had studied in the US and who was trying to set up an information office. I ask him to be my correspondent, interpreter and to set up appointments ahead of my arrival. By comparison it was easy to get to see the right people, as I was the first US based designer to come to Japan - they were curious and their ambition was to export to the US.
I continued to go to Tokyo at a 3 month interval, and it took 5 trips before I finally signed a yearly agreement with Nissan.
On these various trips I had the opportunity to meet some of the leaders of Japanese industry. Mr. S Honda of Honda, Mr. Toyoda of Toyota, Mr. Masuda of Mazda, Mr. Hattori President of Seiko, Mr. Kobajashi President of Fuji Film, Mr. Oga now President of Sony and more.
My first assignment at Nissan was a Coupe on the Fairlady chassis, the project had been started, it was called the Silvia and introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, it was never exported, the Highway Police used it and I had one in New York.
During my time at Nissan I was assigned a group of 4 designers - clay modelers and was told they all speak English - "Good-morning" and "Good-night". The exception was a Mr. Kimura who spoke a little English and was a very good man and a great help to me. He kept me informed about the status of the "Z" after I left. He also left Nissan.
The real purpose for my being retained by Nissan was, they were planning to develop a Sports Car for the U.S. market. Yamaha who have a development center similar to Porsche were given the assignment to up with a 2-liter double overhead cam engine. Concerning the body design we had endless meetings and discussions what it should be. Some years back I had spent a year at Porsche and so I put in my two-bits and mentioned that the 911 was as good package but as a 2-seater. The overall dimensions of the 240-Z and the original 911 are very similar. The Yamaha engine did not come up to the expectations of Nissan. So the Z project for Nissan rested temporarily. The metal prototype of the Z was built by Yamaha at Hamamatsu.
Yamaha convinced Toyota to step in and build a sports car. It was a two-seater coupe and was called the 2000. It was not successful and was around for only a short time.
Prince, a smaller Automobile company had a 2.2 liter six-cylinder, single overhead cam engine which originally was a Mercedes license. Nissan thought this might do and so Nissan took over Prince. Nissan was also looking for a 5 speed transmission and a rear suspension system. We talked about it and I suggested they get in touch with the companies in Europe I had worked with. It was obvious that they were at the beginning and did not know their way around yet.
I left Nissan end of 1965 but continued to go to Japan as I was retained by Fuji Film. In the following years Nissan developed quite a few designs for the Z, but somehow they always returned to the one I had developed.
They did make a change they split it down the middle and added some inches to the width.
Tokyo Auto Show 1969 was the initial showing of the "240-Z" presented in British Racing Green, it stood out like a sore finger, it was so different from the rest of their product line.
Years later in 1980 when the new 280ZX was launched, a US magazine "Car and Driver" interviewed me as the father of the original Z and Nissan did not like my comments. Very soon afterward a Detroit based publication "Automotive News", the bible to the US auto industry, had a statement by a Nissan official that I had no part in the design of the Z.
Different publications including Automotive News and friends of mine in the auto business called - Goertz you have to do something your reputation and credibility are at stake!.
My lawyer in New York, I knew him already in Europe and for some 40 years he has kept me out of trouble, by that time he was the managing partner of one of the biggest law firms in the U.S. To convince him to take on this case took a couple of days being questioned by him and two of his partners -- me an individual suing a major Corporation. They did a lot of of research and he also had to find a lawyer to represent me in Detroit. Automotive News is published in Detroit and therefore the case would be heard in Detroit. Some days later he called and told me to go to Detroit and meet the lawyer he had found for me. I ask him who he was and was told "Don't worry he is the legal consel for General Motors." I went to Detroit and we talked, within two weeks I got a call from the Detroit lawyer to inform me that Nissan wanted to settle out of court. I never kidded myself - but this had nothing to do with me anymore - it was the US Auto industry against the Japanese Auto industry. The case was settled out of court and I was paid more than than I was paid for the design. I am going to read you the statement issued by Nissan.....
- - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - 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-liter 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. - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - -- - -
The biggest reward for me is to have touched people like you, who treasure something I created. Thank you for inviting me here and give my love to your "Z".
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As quoted above, Mr. Goertz says that he worked at Nissan until the end of 1965. While Nissan's letter clearly states that it was "from 1963 to 1965".... I believe that Mr. Goertz is in error because in 1965 he and Yamaha took the prototype to Toyota. He left Nissan at the end of 1964.
Mr. Goertz states that "the real purpose" Nissan hired him was they planned on building a Sports Car for export to the US. He may believe this, but I don't. I believe that the real reason was to advance their own internal design department. In that regard Mr. Goertz did indeed help Nissan. I doubt that he ever know "the real reason". He was one of several hired consultants duing that period.
I find it very self serving that Mr. Goertz passes over so lightly and so quickly the two cars he actually did design, the Slivia and the Toyota 2000GT. I can understand why he would want to also. They were both flops in the Market Place.
For that matter - none of the automotive designs he created sold over 600 copies. I can understand how he would want to attach his name to a record setting model. I can also understand that he may believe himself that his design was carried forward to become the Datsun 240-Z. I believe that nothing could be farther from the truth.
I also note that he does not take issue with Nissan's position that "the design of the 240Z was the product of Nissan's design staff" - - My position is that if he really believed he designed the original 240-Z he certainly would have taken issue with that position - and he certainly would not have settled out of court.
Nissan's statement that Goertz had nothing to do with the design of the 240-Z - was just a little bit too strong. They did build three dimensional clay models - and he did teach them how to do that... that is slightly more than "nothing".
Lastly - "benefit" can be derived from both success and failure. Failures benefit us in that they teach us what NOT to do. The benefit that Nissan got from it's association with Mr. Goertz was they learned what NOT to do.