Yutaka Katayama, a former president of Nissan Motor Co.'s U.S. unit who built the Z sportscar into a powerful global brand in the 1970s, has died. He was 105.

Known as the "father of the Z," Katayama won international respect for the Datsun Z as an affordable sportscar at a time when Japan-made products were synonymous with slipshod quality.

Katayama, who died Thursday, retired from Nissan in 1977.

Carlos Ghosn, who has led a turnaround at the Japanese automaker under an alliance with Renault SA of France, resurrected Katayama's legendary status at Nissan and brought back the Z.

Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in both the U.S. and Japan, Katayama is revered by Z fan clubs around the world.