Meeting a legend is always an interesting situation. Should you feel nervous? Maybe worse still, intimidated? Or, do you just accept that your legend is human and have a good honest, open discussion and hopefully get a grasp on what makes said person tick. That opportunity presented itself to me a couple of weeks ago, when the call came in from Nissan that Mizuno San, the God Father of all things GTR (not mention stacks of other cars) was in town and hosting a morning with the 2012 Nissan GTR.
As with a lot of these events, I wanted to steer clear of the round table affair and get some proper seat time with the guy that has shocked the high performance automotive scene to the core.
So knowing the chap has a penchant for a cheeky cigarette, I thought he might appreciate a rest bite from the PR activities, so asked if he would care to join me outside and have a couple away from the crowds. What I ended of finding, is that Mizuno San is a very humble, modest, down to earth, yet a fiercely intelligent and talented chap… with one agenda. To make the car (we mean generally here) better.
Now what better way to get rocking than to light the man’s ciggie and ask him the simple question…
“What drives the man that has turned the high performance automotive world on its head?”
“Well, I don’t think I did such a huge change in the automotive world, its not only GTR. From the Nissan Primera to many front mid engined configurations (FM) that many makers now use. I have taken it stage by stage to improve the car”
Now even though he was being super modest to the point of being humorous, I couldn’t help but ignore the fact that the ‘Premium Medium’ package that he has created, is transferable across so many vehicles… from saloons, SUV’s and of course the king of all sports cars at the moment – the mighty GTR.
“I want the GTR to be future text book for all cars. Car progress is very important. Car makers are having to work hard to make the perfect car and to make it better for the future. I wanted to make a shocking point”
“As a young man, what was your first inspiration?”
“My first two years in Nissan I was not a good employee. I came late to the office, slept in the office, and had to leave the R&D department to move into car sales at a dealer. One customer then spoke to me. You develop cars for the company, not for the customer. You have to develop the car for the customer and this was a shock to me. The man that spoke to me was handicapped and the car was his life. That changed my direction and made me realise that cars should only be for the customer, not the company.
The GTR was developed for the customer, not the company or myself. This point is very important, so every day I think, customer, customer, customer.
“If you could have one car in your home garage what would it be?”
The car is not complete for me. I have still have progress that is in my head. Now, my ideal car does not exist. That is why I do this job.
If there was one thing you could change again, what would it be?
“There are two many things in my head. For the general production car I have an idea in my head but it’s too much.
Modifying GTR’s is prevelent, especially in the Middle East. Do you think people miss the science that you put into the car?
“I understand that cars are like girlfriends, wifes, partners. I understand that people want to modify. I want to prepare more Nissan options for the customer. The track pack, a factory option for the circuit fan customer will be coming soon. Special brake systems, low weight, race seats, little bits of modification. For the future I prepare more. I understand their mind, they are like human and I will prepare more customisable options for them in the future.
So there we have it… 10 minutes and two cigarettes with the man that signed off with…”smoking interviews are very good for enjoyment”