The Nissan Letter

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,


Signed Toshikuni Nyui
General Manager
Legal Dept.

First let me point out the fact that the letter above is a very carefully worded, legal document. Intentionally weasel worded but none the less every word is carefully chosen. For that reason we need to be careful what we read into it - least it not really be there.

Secondly, let me point out the fact that while Mr. Goertz has made this letter public, he has not released a copy of the letter his lawyer sent to Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.. To which this is a reply. Mr. Goertz has simply stated that he retained a lawyer in Detroit, who was also retained as consul for General Motors, and that attorney wrote Nissan threatening legal action. For exactly what we do not know. We do know that legal action never went to court.

Thirdly it is relevant to note that Mr. Goertz accepted Nissan's position, which is clearly stated in their letter, that the 240Z was the product of Nissan's design staff. Also significant is the fact that Nissan states his period of employment as being 1963 to 1965. "To" is not the same as "through", it is not the same as "into". It clearly and carefully shows Mr. Goertz leaving Nissan's employ at the end of 1964.

Nissan further stated that their design staff was "influenced" by Mr. Goertz fine work. However they do not specify "which" fine work, or "what" fine work, they are referring too. Mr. Goertz did show them how to use full scale clay models during the conceptual design phase of a project, was that the fine work they were referring to? An "influence" can be a good influence or a bad influence and there is still benefit to be had from both in terms of lessons learned. Was Mr. Goertz influence partly the reason the joint Yamaha/Nissan development project was halted? Was the benefit the Nissan designers gained, the benefit of knowing what not to do, the benefit of knowing what wouldn't work?

Nissan's statement that caused the rift to begin with - that Goertz had nothing to do with the design of the 240-Z - was just a little bit too strong. They did build full size clay models - and he did teach them how to do that... that is slightly more than "nothing". It is also reported that Mr. Goertz introduced the use of color sketches into the Nissan design process.

Personally, I believe that the joint Yamaha/Nissan project that Mr. Goertz worked on, was indeed an evolution of the sports cars, the technology, the design methods that had existed in Nissan Motors though-out the 50's and early 60's. The result was an end design that proved that era was at a dead end. The Nissan 2000GT/Yamaha A550X was not the beginning of the Datsun 240-Z, rather it was the last evolutionary step in the Fairlady roadster line at Nissan. The Datsun 240-Z came from completely different origins. Origins that did not in any way include Mr. Goertz's design, but did include the use of some of the Design Tools and Techniques he brought to Nissan.