By on April 16, 2014

09 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen Nissan, not wanting to be left behind by Toyota, introduced the Infiniti marque in 1989, they needed a sporty coupe to sell alongside the mighty Q45 luxury sedan. No problem, just add some bling to the JDM Nissan Leopard, move the steering wheel to the left side, and you’ve got an instant Lexus SC300 competitor for the American market! Sadly for Nissan, few bought the M30 (though its J30 successor sold pretty well), and M30 junkyard finds are quite rare today. Here’s one that survived the Cash For Clunkers Japanese Luxpocalypse but then succumbed to depreciation five years later.
11 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA good-looking car, but 1992 wasn’t a great year for California car dealers.
08 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s the same VG30 V6 that M30′s 300ZX and Maxima contemporaries got.


Naturally, the Japanese-market ads for the F31 Leopard coupe are far superior to anything shown on the other side of the Pacific.

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48 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Infiniti M30...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    Not a fan of this one. But, oh the J30! I consider it one of the best looking cars ever.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    That’s a squeaky-clean engine bay; I wonder what the story is there…

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      A California one.
      Probably bought at auction, and drove luxuriously into the prep bay at the junkyard to have it’s vital fluids drained.

      That’s sad because these are becoming sort of a cult car. I scoured Craigslist for a year for this very example. Found nothing but rotten garbage for $3000, and convertibles (half of the production had the roof chopped off by American Sunroof Corp). They can easily be fun cars when given the usual 300zx upgrades, converted to 5spd, made turbo, etc.

      I would never have bought one new though. The whole car was dreadfully dated. I can only imagine potential customers spending exactly 5 seconds in that seat, looking at that dash, and saying “Nope!”. A Sentra’s interior was nicer!

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Test drove one of these back in 1994; I can’t remember ever being so unimpressed with a car that had such “supposedly” lofty characteristics. I rated it a fail.

  • avatar
    sastexan

    I am somewhat surprised – the body and interior (before it was stripped) looks like they were in pretty darn good shape. How many miles though? I can’t make out the odo.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Danggg I’ve never even heard of this car, let alone seen one in the wild…perhaps they never made it to Canada.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Next you’ll find a Lexus ES250. Now that would be interesting, I’ve personally never seen one of those…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Essentially a rebadged Camry built in Japan. I’ve seen them both on the street and in yards, but they are not as common as you would think and couldn’t hold a candle to LS400 (nor was it intended too). I’d drive one today, the quintessential Japanese look in a sea of blob.

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/41/Lexus_ES_250_VZV21.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Biggest difference was the frameless side windows, which was the primary distinction between the ES and the Camry for quite a while. Rarest of the rare would be the 5-speed manual ES250.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Well I know they aren’t common, otherwise I probably would have seen one…

          I’ve also never seen a first gen Q45 with the weird “aero” nose, but I very much doubt Murilee would find one of those anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Naah, they’re easy enough to find. Just not rare enough to merit a feature.

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/90s-japanese-luxury-car-purchase-dilemma-q45-ls-400-or-rl/

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Ah, the benefits of not living somewhere where cars get a nice brine crust every year. I don’t even see Legends, and if I do, they’ve got quite a bit of the ol’ rust cancer.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Ah yes I forgot about the frameless windows, good call (also wasn’t aware of a manual option).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Ya know, I think they missed out in not using the Cressida as the transformed Lexus mid-size stablemate to the LS.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          As the story goes, the ES was something of a last-minute realization that Lexus dealers needed more than one car to sell. The MX83 Cressida was a 1989 model (so it probably showed up in the fall of 1988), about a year too early to rebrand it as a Lexus.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Good point, they would’ve had too much work to do. However, that decision could have changed the direction of Lexus quite a bit!

            Also I’m realizing the M30 looks too much like a Silvia coupe. Though not sold here (right?), I’ve seen a couple of Silvias.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve heard a similar story but its probably better they went in the direction they did. Selling a Cressida rebadge alongside LS400 probably would not have worked out very well as they were similar type cars.

            Unique and unrelated full size sedan, mid size sedan, and mid size coupe. Perfection in model lineup, something which will never be achieved again.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            It’s interesting to play what-if. Given the necessary lead times, Toyota would have had to decide to sell the MX83 as a Lexus sometime in early 1987 at the latest, and it probably would have come off as a “junior LS” at best, until the head gaskets started dying. Tossing out a quickie rebadge on the Vista might have been for the best after all.

            The S13 Silvia never made it to North America when new, but the tidal wave of imported front clips and replica parts in the last 15 years means that it’s not at all rare to see converted 240SXes these days. The earliest ones are also eligible for direct importation now, too.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    A friend of mine had a J30. I remember it being fairly quick, and the sounds that engine made was music to the ears.

    Another “friend” of mine had one of these above back in 2002 or 2003. Appeared well-kept and clean but had a crapload of miles on it. I had no idea what it was as I’d never seen one before.

    Sat in his driveway most of the time. He was an idiot.

    What was that movie where Mark Wahlberg kept drooling incessantly over Infiniti convertibles? Three Kings, was it? Where he stumbles upon Saddam’s car stash?

  • avatar
    ArBee

    I saw one of these just last evening on my way home, the first M30 I’ve spotted in several years. It was a nicely kept black on black convertible. They weren’t sports cars by any stretch, but they appeared to be pleasant cruisers, sort of a trim Japanese Thunderbird.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    A black convertible popped up around here lately. Looks like a typical high-mile low-cost daily driver.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Wow! I remember when these were utterly unobtainable objects of luxury and affluence. Now it’s dirty junk. Man am I getting old!

  • avatar
    alexcassidy

    HAH. I used to own one of these– a convertible, in black. That thing was a total piece of shit but I still miss it. It was a great PCH cruiser.

  • avatar
    Prado

    I didn’t know that these were rear wheel drive. I always thought they were basically a 2 door Maxima.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Yea, you’d think but not even close. These were actually the R31 Skyline. I also think they shared a lot with the Z31 (i.e. the 300ZX).

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I’d say it was more of a 2-door Laurel myself, but that’s well into picking-nits territory. All of them were built out of the ’80s Nissan RWD parts bin.

      • 0 avatar
        AKADriver

        Its closest mechanical cousins in the US were the Z31 and the S12 200SX. I’m sure most buyers didn’t care, but these cars were surprisingly dated by the time it was introduced to the US. You got the SOHC VG30E, the old trailing-arm rear suspension… even the interior was quite boxy and reminiscent of the S12 and R30/R31.

        Head over to a Nissan dealer in ’92 and you could get a 240SX convertible that had fewer total creature comforts, but a much more modern and stylish interior and exterior design, better ride/handling balance from the more modern chassis, and about the same power from a slightly more modern DOHC I4. And it cost a *lot* less.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A cousin had one , in this exact interior/exterior color scheme that he kept a number of years and seemed to really like . He always had a taste for the obscure automotive purchase and traded a Merkur Scorpio for it . When new , they were seldom seen , and had the cousin not owned one I probably wouldn’t remember it .

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Very confusing car ad. JDM-only model, voice over in Japanese, right hand drive car, Connecticut plate?

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Extremely inaccurate fake Connecticut plate. I think I have seen other JDM car commercials where the cars have US style plates, usually California. I don’t understand why, though.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Um, funny you should mention the 1992 economy, Murilee, and provide the Wiki link that brings up the 1987 crash. That was still very much on my father’s mind when he passed away in April of 1988. *He* has been very much on my mind as my mother passed six months ago and did not want her cremains in “that $&*t hole where your father is”. So, we made arrangements to retrieve his cremains and place them in the same crypt as my mother. The monument company just called and said they have accomplished the mission and I can pick him up this afternoon. He will symbolically be with me in my house and then… Murilee, if you have family in SoCal you might tell them to brace for the “big one”, mom and dad were like fire and gasoline together – this could be interesting.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The closest vehicle we received to this Infinity was what we called the Nissan R31 Skyline. It was manufactured in Australia.

    It was powered by the RB30 inline 6. I really can’t fathom how this vehicle became a ‘prestige’ vehicle. It did have a good solid chassis.

    http://assets.shannons.com.au/M47B55ZRE632499/S04DC1WU2D97397/f2w8vwetpnqy6ypv/jpg/320×216/vehicle/1989-nissan-special-vehicles-silhouette-gts-2.jpg

    http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a240/rsx84/camera012.jpg

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    If anyone’s interested, you can see a You Tube video of one being dropped off a 200 foot cliff by the Stuntbusters, in slo mo. This one met a slightly more dignified ending.

  • avatar

    Funny about the shape…resembles my ’87 Sentra.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I see these listed at quite reasonable prices. Wonder if the supercharger from the Frontier/Xterra SC would bolt on?

  • avatar
    davew833

    I worked the parts dept. for an Infiniti dealership from 1991-93 when these were new. A very ’80s “meh” design inside and out, not really a suitable companion to the “clean-sheet” Q45. I thought the first-generation Acura Legend coupe was a much more timeless design. The M30 did look better in pearl white like this one though.

    I drove my boss’s black M30 fairly often– it seemed pretty powerful and fast but I was never impressed with the handling. The Q45 and G20 both handled much better.

    It seems to me M30s sold fairly well though, even in Utah where the RWD was horrendous in snow. I remember one day when the transporter set down a brand- new M30 convertible in about 1/2″ of snow in the street behind our dealership and it was stuck– wouldn’t move at all without a push from the guys in the shop. We did a pretty good business in aftermarket wheels, wood kits, and gold emblems to “tart up” these rather plain- jane “luxury coupes”. We ended up with quite a stockpile of factory takeoff M30 alloy wheels that I sold to a recycler for $5 each. They were so plain no one else wanted them.

  • avatar
    photog02

    There was one of these for sale locally not too long ago. I tried to set up an appointment but never heard back from the guy. Seeing the meh reaction that is happening here, maybe that is good. However, I wound up buying a Lexus SC400 and would have appreciated the Japanese-personal luxury coupe comparison.


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