By on October 30, 2009

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Comments to last Tuesday’s Curbside Classic pointed out the lasting stylistic influence of the BMW 6 Series on such cars as the Acura Legend coupe. That reminded me of this out-of-focus shot I took of a 1990 Infiniti M30 last winter. I try to stick to cars 25 years and older anyway, but this is a car that has really fallen off the radar, as well as my camera’s auto-focus function. The M30 was a left-steering version of the Nissan Leopard, which in turn shared its platform and basic configuration with the legendary Nissan Skyline R31. Performance was quite another story: the M30 had a 162 hp version of the Nissan 3 liter V6, and came only with an automatic. Given its weight of 3330 lbs, performance was modest. But with the availability and interchangeability of Skyline and Nissan 300Z turbo components, the M30 is the easiest way to end up with that unique JDM-Skyline look on these shores.

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41 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: 1990 Infiniti M30...”


  • avatar
    rpol35

    I always admired these until I test drove one back in ’94 with the intention of buying it. It was a convertible which I understand (understood?) were rare.

    It drove miserably; very poor seating position, rattled incesseantly and performed, as you mentioned, modestly. The upholstery hadn’t held up well either but that may have been from leaving the top down in the sun.

    Great looking, but hugely disappointing; I passed on it and never considered another.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    oh man, one of these.

    A buddy of mine in high school had one with the adaptable sonic suspension with a sensor that would switch between Sport and Comfort depending on the road conditions.

    The interior was severely outdated even when it was new in the US, though the Leopard recieved updates later on. I also beleive this is also one of the very few infinitis that didn’t have the analog clock. I wanted one of these a few years back, if only to swap a Skyline engine or a turbo SR20 into.

    rpol: The convertibles were built in limited numbers by a 3rd party, I beleive. That would explain only the rattles.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    The increase in efficiency in engines just continues to boggle my mind. Less than 20 years ago, and it was a 3l V6 with 160 HP? Now we have 2l 4′s with more than that and the same or better fuel mileage. Part of me wonders what we could get if those efficiency gains had gone entirely to fuel economy, and kept the 4 cyl. HP down around 100…

    • 0 avatar
      bugo

      My mom’s HHR has a 2.4L/150 cid engine that cranks out 175hp and 165 lb/ft of torque. Well over 1 hp per cubic inch. Even with the slushbox, it has mad torque steer.

  • avatar
    jmo

    The increase in efficiency in engines just continues to boggle my mind.

    1986 Cadillac 4.1L V-8 – 135bhp and 200lb/ft of torque.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Note the forward-canted B-pillar, a Nissan styling tic that continued for a LONG TIME after this car.

  • avatar

    Areitu:

    My grandmother had the convertible–I think it was her last car–and, yes, I remember the interior seeming outdated and tacky even back in the early 1990s.

    What genius thought this was a suitable complement to the wonderful first Q45?

  • avatar
    grog

    Note the forward-canted B-pillar, a Nissan styling tic that continued for a LONG TIME after this car.

    Thanks for clearing that up. As I looked at this photo, I was thinking “that looks like every Nissan I remember seeing in DC in the 90s.”

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    1986 Cadillac 4.1L V-8 – 135bhp and 200lb/ft of torque.

    That was still better than the 1985 Ford V8, which in non HO trim, made 140 HP out of 4.9 liters.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Immortalized in the film “Three Kings.”

    TROY
    Hey. That’s a convertible.

    He points to the flaming wrecked Infiniti.

    ARCHIE GATES
    Keep your f—–g guard up.

    TROY
    Is that leather interior?

    DOC
    I think he’s in shock.

    TROY
    It’s a f—–g Infiniti
    convertible, isn’t it?

    DOC
    Yes.

    TROY
    OK. So I owe you a car. I’m not in
    shock.

    ARCHIE GATES
    We can talk about cars later, OK?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    The Chevy 267 V8 (4.6 liter) of ’81-’82 made 115hp. Can anybody “under” that for specific output per liter in the modern era?

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Paul, if memory serves, that was actually a 262 cid V8. If so, its 0.438 HP/cid is virtually the same as the 1978 Ford 460, which puffed out 202 HP.

    If it actually was a 267….then you win. ;-)

  • avatar
    moedaman

    I had a 1974 AMC Gremlin with a 258 cid straight six. I think it only had 105 hp. I also had a 1986 S15 Jimmy with a 2.8 litre V-6 @ 115 hp.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Well, the later ones in ’80-’81 were 267 CI, but the one I actually meant is the earlier 262 CI version of ’75, which put out 110 hp. Good enough for a tie in my book.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    How about my ’79 Lincoln – 400 cubic inch V8 6.6L -159 hp.

    10 MPG average.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “Well, the later ones in ‘80-’81 were 267 CI, but the one I actually meant is the earlier 262 CI version of ‘75, which put out 110 hp. Good enough for a tie in my book.”

    Paul – You are correct. The 262 and 267 were different engines with different applications. The biggest difference is that the 267, which I believe was made from ’79 to ’82, came with standard features of self destructing crankshafts and camshafts.

    The 262 came back, sort of, in 1994-1996 as a “Vortec” design also known as SBII.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    And that Ford 400M is actually 402 cubic inches too!

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “And that Ford 400M is actually 402 cubic inches too!”

    I’m getting off-course here but that is a peculiar coincidence as the 1970-1972 Chevrolet 400 cubic inch big-block engines were also 402′s in actuality. In some cases they were referred to as 396′s and in some cases 400 Turbo-Jets but never 402′s.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    115hp divided by 267 = .430 hp per cubic inch
    159ho divided by 402 = .395 hp per cubic inch.

    Looks like my Lincoln wins for sloth, Paul ;-)

  • avatar
    npbheights

    115hp divided by 267 = .430 hp per cubic inch
    159hp divided by 402 = .395 hp per cubic inch.

    Looks like my Lincoln wins for sloth, Paul ;-)

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    How about the 1975 Ford 4.1 litre six? 70 horsepower. That’s only 17hp per litre. (250 cubic inches = 0.288 hp per cubic inch)

    The Motor’s manual literally doesn’t even list the power for the 1975 Ford 3.3 litre six. I think Ford were too embarrassed to publish it.

    For 1976, the 3.3 is listed at 81hp, while the 4.1 is at 87hp.

    The AMC 4.2 litre six was 110hp in 1975, for 26hp per litre.

    Chrysler didn’t even report power figures on any engines for 1975, as listed in Motor’s. Their 1976 version of the 3.7 litre slant six had 100hp, or 27hp per litre.

    The GM 4.1 litre six in 1975 put out only 105hp, which was 25.6hp per litre.

    I think the Ford inline sixes from the malaise era “win” the least efficient award for power output. If memory serves, they also didn’t run very well and got pretty miserable fuel economy, as well.

    Ford’s 5.0 V8 for 1975 was 122hp, or 24.4hp/litre; their 5.7 V8 was 148hp, or 26hp/litre; and their 6.6 V8 was 144hp 21.8hp/litre. The biggest V8, the 460, was 218hp, I think that’s 28.7hp/litre.

    If you are looking for 1980 engines with the same problems, look no further than the totally strangulated International Scout, in which the 5.0 V8 was able to only put out 122.3 hp, and their 5.6 V8 which “belted out” 148hp. Pretty much as bad as the mid-1970′s Fords.

    The emission strangled AMC 5.9 V8 used in the mid-1980′s Grand Wagoneer was so gutless, they were too embarrassed to publish horsepower ratings, but rumor had it, that it was in the range of 130hp. If so, that’d be about 22hp per litre.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    It should be added that the 4.1 litre / 250 cubic inch Ford six declined in power dramatically from 1969 and 1970 (155hp), to 1971 (145hp), to 1972 (95hp or 98hp depending upon the application), to 1973 (88 or 92hp or 95hp), to 1974 (91hp) to 1975 when it was 70hp (72hp in some cars – whooee, do you think you might feel 2hp difference in a car weighing in at 3000 pounds or more?)

    • 0 avatar
      bugo

      We had a ’75 Granada with a 250 six cylinder engine. It wasn’t fast by any means, but it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty torquey for what it was. It didn’t get very good mileage.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Damn. Someone beat me to the Three Kings reference. Really enjoyed seeing this car get blown to smithereens.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Arguably the Leopard/M30 shared more parts with the Z31 300ZX than the not-so-legendary R31 Skyline (the R32 is the one which earned the model’s latter-day fame).

    Nissan did the whole luxury marque thing on the cheap: the G20 was a rebadged Primera, the M30 a rebadged Leopard, and even the Q45 was a short-wheelbase President. Acuras in those days were near-luxury, and even Lexus was literally the LS400 plus an afterthought spiffed-up Camry.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Highway27 wrote above: “Now we have 2l 4’s with more than that and the same or better fuel mileage. Part of me wonders what we could get if those efficiency gains had gone entirely to fuel economy, and kept the 4 cyl. HP down around 100…”

    Our 10-year-old Chevy Prizm (1.8-liter Corolla motor, 120 hp, manual shift) has held up well and can still get 40 mpg at high steady speeds, and variable valve timing wasn’t introduced on that motor until the following year. There are cars today with only a little more mass than the Prizm but a lot more room in the back seat, with drivetrains that are both fun and economical – why is it taking them so long to get here from the European market?

    Huge horsepower has its charms, but so does lower mass and a lower center of gravity. I say this as a longtime driver of a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible who was finally weaned from the idea of restoring it when a family member gave me a 4-year-old ’83 Civic 1300 (an 1800-pound car with 12-inch wheels).

  • avatar
    jmo

    How about my ‘79 Lincoln – 400 cubic inch V8 6.6L -159 hp.

    Any bored engineers want to explain to me how such a big engine could produce so little power?

    The only thing I can think is it had a really low compression ratio thus litte torque and a really low max RPM so very little power.

  • avatar
    autoarcheologist

    Well this bored engineer would say it’s due to a massively restrictive intake and exhaust, low compression and tiny valves. Engines are really just air/heat pumps. You gotta get the air into and out of those massive cylinders, or else you get no powah.

    But all those engines probably still had lots of low end torque, which is what most American’s want right? After all the modern SUV is really just a 70′s station wagon with better visibility and a better stereo. Handling, braking, fuel economy? All about the same I’d say.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    After all the modern SUV is really just a 70’s station wagon with better visibility and a better stereo. Handling, braking, fuel economy? All about the same I’d say.

    If my 72 Lincoln steered/handled/braked as well as a Navigator and had a 6 speed automatic, I would be in heaven. Not even close.

  • avatar
    jmo

    autoarcheologist

    I looked it up. 6.6L Lincoln V-8

    159 bhp at 3400rpm

    315 lb/ft at 1800 rpm

    It’s almost diesel like – well except for the horrible gas mileage.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    jmo,

    That 400 was weak indeed. Although the 200ish hp 460 was no hot rod, it had the torque to motivate those barges faster than they had any business going. Keep in mind if you slap a set of ported 1970 D0VE heads onto that lazy 460, you’d pick up an easy 100 HP. Big valves and an extra full point of compression works wonders. Really woke up my old Mark V.

  • avatar
    jmo

    doc,

    Would that cause the mileage to fall below 10mpg?

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    jmo, the bump in compression actually aids efficiency in steady state cruising. Now, the extra power is so addicting that you end up driving less efficiently…. ;-)

  • avatar
    npbheights

    All that torque explains a lot on the way my ole Lincoln drives. Plenty of power up to 20 mph, then runs out of breath the faster it goes.

    Would like to give that unusual engine some more power some day. Not 500hp, but maybe 350 ish

    http://www.fordmuscle.com/archives/2008/06/400MockUp/

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The M30 was the first convertible from a Japanese luxury brand, as well as the last for many a year. I don’t think there was another until the SC430, and Infiniti has just now done their second drop top.

  • avatar
    Spencer Williams

    Note the forward-canted B-pillar, a Nissan styling tic that continued for a LONG TIME after this car.

    That’s the kind of detail that keeps bringing me back to TTAC.

    And like has already been said twice, I totally would have forgotten about this car were it not for its prominence in the film Three Kings.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    ” … to 1971 (145hp), to 1972 (95hp or 98hp depending upon the application)”

    Part of what happened in 1972 is that most auto makers began quoting SAE Net horse power based on standard J1349, instead of the earlier gross horsepower numbers. The earlier numbers used undefined setup techniques and an engine lacking basic things like an exhaust system, water pump, etc.

    Thus, most (if not all) of the drop off from 1971 to 1972 isn’t real, it is simply a matter of moving to a defined test procedure instead of practically making the numbers up. You can find a bit more background here:

    http://wikicars.org/en/Horsepower#SAE_gross_horsepower

    Because the move was from no-system to a defined test regimen, there is no handy conversion factor available or possible. This historical anomaly causes confusion in the enthusiast community to this day.

  • avatar
    Accords

    I actually had someone, a very good and very close family member of mine wanted to sell me a convertible version of a ’92 of this car.

    I… turned it down, mostly because of the low miles, and I didn;t know how well it had been kept up, that and I don’t have room for a 90 / 92 M30.

    It was white with either a tan or a white interior. Shnazzy car.. but not my taste.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I say this as a longtime driver of a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible who was finally weaned from the idea of restoring it when a family member gave me a 4-year-old ‘83 Civic 1300 (an 1800-pound car with 12-inch wheels).…

    You are joking, right? I do get the low weight is a plus thing – I drove a 2400 pound K car for a bunch of years and the tossability of such light weight made up for many shortcomings. But really, there is something awesome about 60′s American convertibles…can’t imagine that itch being scratched by a Civic…

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    OMG….I briefly had a 1980 Impala 2dr with that wonder of a motor, the 267 V8 2bbl. What a waste of iron. Gutless performance and not so good mpg. This same Impala had the dash split on me in two places during the first cold night it sat outside in the driveway.

    Ah yes…..and people wonder why GM has not meant “The Mark of Excellence” for so many years only to become Gov’t Motors……


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