The 2023 Nissan Z’s Chief Product Planner Hiroshi ‘Mr. GT-R’ Tamura Is a True Enthusiast
There aren’t many other nicknames in this industry that could be cooler. Tamura-san has been with Nissan since 1984, and worked on some serious drivers' cars.
We here at Car Bibles are very excited about the new 2023 Nissan Z. From what I’ve learned and analyzed about the storied new Japanese sports car, it’s got all the makings to be a performance hit. This is the kind of car that engineers dream of building, and the folks at Nissan are no exception. So now would be a great time to learn about Hiroshi Tamura, Chief Product Specialist of the new Nissan Z, also known as “Mr. GT-R.”
There aren’t many other nicknames in this industry that could be cooler. Tamura-san has been with Nissan since 1984, working his way up to be Chief Product Specialist of the GT-R and Z in 2012. Along the way, he made a stop at Autech, a bonafide legend of Nissan tuning. Autech is responsible for the lunatic-spec Nissan Stagea 260RS, a full-sized wagon with an RB26DETT from a GT-R. Tamura-san knows his tuning and even tinkered with some of his own cars.
Famously, he owns a 600 horsepower R32 GT-R that he calls “my buddy” and has owned a strong line of other Nissan performance cars as well. He’s admitted to owning an R34 GT-R, a G-nose 240Z, and a turbo Z31 that he modified himself, and I’m sure there are many more I missed. He worked on the R34 but dreamed of an R32 as a younger fellow. All of that, and he’s only 52 today.
He also has fascinating ideas about cars and how they interact with people. He clearly understands the significance of the new Z to millions of people, and that’s because he is a real-deal car person by all accounts. He has an attention to detail and passion that has produced some of the greatest cars ever made.
Tamura-san once said to Car and Driver: “A car should be perfect, but a car can never achieve perfection. Because humans aren’t perfect, we cannot achieve perfection.” Which is something I love to hear from someone handling a beloved brand. He understands the need to continually improve, even if his company won’t always let him do it to the Z. The GT-R has usually gotten the attention it needs, however. He also lives by this: His GT-R once made 800 horsepower but he thought it drove worse because of it. He then dialed the car back down to the 600 horsepower it has today.
He summed that philosophy up well to C/D: “For low revs, medium revs, and high revs, total balance is important. So I learned that 600 is the best balance point for me. Don’t chase dots, chase lines. Chase area (under the line).”
There’s another great quote from him in an interview he did with CNET Roadshow last year, too: “Like a car as a body,” he said. “More extension, you are the commander… your body is connected.” He was referring to the GT-R there but it’s an inspiring philosophy regardless. As for the Z, Nissan published a longer spiel from Tamura-san in which he shares quite a few good nuggets of insight, including his own take on his job description:
“My job, as the Chief Product Specialist, is to be the voice of the customer. 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. But 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.”
Even for all the technical info we now have on the new Z, it takes a dedicated team behind it to make all of those great parts become a cohesive whole. Tamura-san seems to have what it takes to make the new Z a great car. That is, an understanding of intangibles, of dynamic and engine balance, and knowing about how customers may want to modify the car and how he can deploy that to make it better.
Like some of the great cars in history, we know the people behind them as much as the cars themselves. Hiroshi Tamura is one of those people.