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Some perspective on the Miata courtesy of Mr. Katayama of Nissan

Mr. Katayama, the force behind Datsun and Nissan in America, passed away at age 105 this week. What he said about the Miata should be part of our discussion of the new 2016 version of that model.

This past week Yutaka Katayama passed away at age 105. Known as Mr. K to Nissan insiders, he was instrumental in building the Datsun brand in the US. He will always be remembered for that and for the 240Z. Here at Torque News we have another writer that covers Nissan, so Aaron will post up a story about this Hall of Fame automotive legend. I cover Mazda, so in Mr. K’s memory I will pass along some of his words and wisdom about what a sports car is.

Speaking about the 240Z, Car and Driver quoted Mr. K in its eulogy as saying the 240Z was “…designed so that it could be built utilizing some of the parts and components that were already used in our other production cars, and it was a car that anybody could drive easily and that would give the driver that incredible feeling of jubilation that comes when car and driver are as one.”

Naming names, Mr. K said, “The Miata is taking the place of the 240Z …. The fun of driving cars is the same as riding a horse. We need a car that is like riding on horseback.” He went further and said “A sports car doesn’t have to be luxurious. It should be affordable so that anyone can own one, it should be easy to maintain, and it should be something that you can enjoy without having to spend too much money. To attach a price tag of $50,000 to a sports car just seems uncomfortable to me. You can get any price you want if you increase the number and level of features and equipment. But if you don’t add any extra equipment and features and you can still experience great exhilaration when driving, then that’s the best situation as far as I am concerned.”

Many Miata enthusiasts, including me, have been discussing Mazda’s cutting the power of the new 2016 model back from 167 to 155 horsepower and making the car even more compact than the outgoing Gen 3. Maybe lost in the discussion is some of the wisdom and perspective Mr. Katayama left us with.