Kohei Matsuda, 80, a retired president and chairman of Mazda Motor Corp. and owner of the Japanese professional baseball club Hiroshima Toyo Carp, died of stomach cancer July 10 in a hospital here.
Mr. Matsuda, the grandson of Mazda founder Jujiro Matsuda, joined the Japanese automaker -- then known as Toyo Kogyo -- in 1961 as a vice president. He helped the Hiroshima-based company introduce the Cosmo sports coupe in 1967, the first car in Japan powered by a rotary engine.
The rotary engine is driven by cylinders rotating around a crankshaft instead of being lined up horizontally like conventional pistons. They tend to have a better weight-to-horsepower ratio than other internal combustion engines.
Mr. Matsuda became president of Mazda in 1970, succeeding his father, Tsuneji Matsuda, and steering the automaker through a period of declining earnings caused in part by the global oil-pricing shocks.
He retired from the presidency in 1977 and was appointed chairman, a post he held until 1980. As chairman, he oversaw Mazda's 1979 capital link with Ford Motor Co., which now owns about one-third of the Japanese firm.
Mazda rehired Mr. Matsuda as an honorary adviser in 1988.
In 1970, he became owner of the Hiroshima Carp and invigorated the baseball franchise by instructing scouts to go after young, unknown players. The team won the first of six Central League pennants in 1975 and captured the first of its three Japanese championship titles in 1979.
Survivors include his wife and three children.