Albrecht Graf Goertz (en: Count Albrecht von Goertz) in German (born January 12, 1914 died October 27, 2006) designed cars for BMW including the BMW 503 and BMW 507, both for 1955. He also worked for Porsche, Nissan and Toyota.
He was the second son to an aristocratic family in Germany from Brunkensen in Lower Saxony. After attending school, Goertz was started an apprenticeship to Deutsche Bank and then to a London-based private bank, but his prospects were not good, so in 1936 he emigrated to the United States of America. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and worked at a car wash and in a factory making aircraft engines. In 1938 Goertz rented a garage and showroom and modified Ford Model A and B models. On a Mercury chassis, he built a two-door coupe called the "Paragon". This was exhibited at the World Exhibition in San Francisco in 1939.
Goertz then served in the US Army for five years. After leaving the Army he drove the Paragon to New York and while driving it he accidentally encountered Raymond Loewy, the famous car designer. Loewy invited Goertz to his office, sent him to college to learn about design and later gave him a job in the Studebaker studio in Indiana.
Goertz in 1953 set up his own design business and got to know Max Hoffmann, BMW's main importer in America. Hoffmann knew of BMW's plans to build a sports car and suggested that Goertz should contact BMW in Munich. Goertz then designed both BMW 507 and also the BMW 503. He was also famously linked to both the Toyota 2000GT and the Datsun 240Z as he carried out consultation work for a two seater sports car project for both companies via Yamaha, initially for Nissan (which exported cars under the brand name Datsun). When Nissan abandoned the project, Yamaha took the project to Toyota which with further work evolved into the Toyota 2000GT.
Goertz's involment with Nissan ended in 1965. Later Nissan revived their sports car project which became the 240Z of which Goertz had no further involvement.
Before the Yamaha project, Goertz worked on the design for the first Nissan Silvia which was a limited production two-door sports coupe.
People mistakenly believe Goertz was the man who designed both the 2000GT and the 240Z cars because it has been widly reported in the press as fact. Car and Driver magazine incorrectly calls Dr. Goertz the "Father of the Z Car".
The issue came to a head in the 1980's and Nissan released this statement about Mr Goertz's involvment with Nissan:
A Correspondence Between Toshikuni Nyui of Nissan and Albrecht Goertz
Dear Mr. Goertz:
At your request, we have examined the relevant evidence pertaining to the development of the highly successful Datsun 240Z which was first introduced in 1969.
You were retained by Nissan during the period from 1963 to 1965 as an automotive design consultant. During that period, you consulted with Nissan on the basic methods of styling a general sports car. You were also the sole design consultant on a two-liter sports car which Nissan was trying to develop as part of a joint venture with Yamaha. This car was not produced.
While it is our view that the design of the 240Z was the product of Nissan's design staff, Nissan agrees that the personnel who designed that automobile were influenced by your fine work for Nissan and had the benefit of your designs
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.
Signed Toshikuni Nyui