Many know him as 'Mr GT-R', but Hiroshi Tamura has always had a Nissan Z car of some form in his life, and they've always been mean, extra-ordinary versions.
The first was a used example of the race-focused homologation 240ZG, chosen because its pointy fibreglass snout reminded him of Japan's iconic Shinkansen – known to most of the world as a 'bullet train'.
"It had a very sleek aerodynamic body with a shape that sliced the air," Tamura-san says, speaking with Nissan's own media team as part of its 'Essence of Z-ness' exploration series.
"It surprised me that a Japanese car company could create such a design, something with a low and wide stance, a long nose, a short rear deck and aggressive bolted over-fenders."
The G-nose was followed by a Z31 300ZX, "that I also tuned".
Tamura-san describes a 1980s Japanese tuning scene that was overflowing with aftermarket support and affordable performance parts galore.
"I learned how to tune my cars through lots of trial and error, learning to pay attention to the details, such as the cooling system, the brake system, and much more," he recalls.
"Some lessons I learned the hard way, but in the end, it turned out to be a very nice car."
There were no web forums and Facebook owner groups back then, after all – although Tamura-san did enjoy the benefit of having formally joined the Nissan family as an engineer in 1984.
Incidentally, he also owns a 'sleeper' R32 GT-R that produces 447kW and features pieces borrowed from and inspired by the R33 and R34 generations of the legendary badge.
This is all a long lead-up to say that Nissan's Chief Product Specialist for the GT-R and Z is deeply familiar not only with the Nissan brand's internal workings, but also with the experience of owning and modifying a performance Nissan car.
"I’ve been a Nissan petrolhead since I was a kid. I was a fan of two main cars in my youth – the GT-R and the Z – and it was then [that] I wanted to be a part of the future of Nissan and its sports cars," Tamura-san says.
"I remember the GT-R’s power and racing performance, and I remember the beautiful look of the Fairlady Z; these cars changed my life.
"I have so many happy memories owning and driving the Z and GT-R, and to think that I’m now responsible in creating them leaves me speechless. I will have to write a book about it someday!"
Speaking on the recently unveiled Z Proto concept and the coming new-generation Z car (which still, by the way, has no official launch date), Tamura-san describes himself as 'the voice of the customer'. That, essentially, is the purpose of his role as Chief Product Specialist.
"Introducing a new Z is a challenging job for the whole team because so many people love the Z for different reasons, such as its appearance, performance, and even positive memories they may have had with the past generations of Z. We must consider the customer’s wants and their happiness first," he says.
"It helps that I have loved Z cars since the very beginning, and I have owned them over the years. I know what the Z means to me, so I know what it means to the customer. My intent for the Z has always been to provide a balance between style, power and technology, all of which can be easily accessed by the customer.
"The Z must move right, look right and be something that produces a smile on the customer’s face."
In the pursuit of that goal, the new Z promises to showcase styling cues borrowed from across the coupe's history – particularly the original 240Z and the popular 'second generation' 300ZX, the Z32.
You can learn more about that journey in our interview with Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa. We've also embedded an official design video at the bottom of this article.
For more on the Z Proto and the coming new Z, catch our stories at the links below.
Merry Christmas, Tamura-san.
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