By on March 6, 2015

06 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA few years ago, I decided that I wanted to own a well-preserved 1990s Japanese luxury car, and my first choice was the Infiniti Q45. Well, it turned out that just about every example of the Q45 got completely trashed by about 2005, and so I found a very nice Coach Edition LS400. Still, though, I love the early Q45’s weirdness and its Nissan President origins, and so I shot this first-year example that I found in California.
05 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese were seriously luxurious and powerful cars for their day, but most of them weren’t cared for so well once they went to their second owners.
03 - 1990 Infiniti Q45 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one just barely made it past 150,000 miles.


There is no compromise at any speed.

Take a long, hard test drive.

In Japan, it was called the Nissan Infiniti Q45.

I couldn’t find the weird US-market “Zen” Q45 ad, but here’s the Japanese counterpart.

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105 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Infiniti Q45...”


  • avatar
    crtfour

    I drove one of these (a ’90 model) in the late 90’s while going to college. I loved the car. It was a hand-me-down from my dad with about 130,000 miles on it, but it was always so smooth and quiet without any squeaks and rattles, and I never had any issues with it.

    And you’re right about being fast….these cars would move when you nailed the throttle.

    I wouldn’t mind having one today if I came across a nice example.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I guess you could say it’s been impeached from our roads. Impeached and disgraced in tawdry fashion,

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Good move to pick the Lexus. Older Infiniti’s had rust and electrical issues, pretty much a throw away car, at least the first generations.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “In Japan, it was called the Nissan Infiniti Q45.”

    Please tell this to other auto journalists, including some on this very site – who suggest the Infiniti name has never been sold in the JDM before this past year.

    Drives me up the wall.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Ah, so it’s been both a marque and a model name, a la Imperial? Interesting. Being more than a bit of a pedant, I empathize with Mopar fans’ when they object to people’s calling ’55-’75 Imperials “Chrysler Imperials.”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’m not sure if the Q45 was the model name in Japan, or if “Infiniti Q45” was the name. We’ll have to get an answer from a Japanese person.

        BUT, the name has been sold in the JDM. So all these articles “Infiniti Sold for First Time in Japan” in 2014 were nonsense.

        • 0 avatar

          Google up Nissan President and you’ll find your answer.

          The “Lexus” was first developed for the Japanese market and the LS 400 was sold as Celsior, and sold by Toyota Channel One. It wasn’t even the flagship as that honor went to the JDM Crown. The first Lexus utility vehicle (RX) was known as the Harrier in the JDM. The GS was called Aristo. I forget the names of the JDM version of ES300 and of the first 2 door, but they will come to me.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ruggles I have done that previously, and it did not answer the question. Is the name Infiniti in the middle being used as a trim of Nissan? As part of the model name? As an extension on the Nissan name?

          • 0 avatar

            2nd gen ES300 was called Windom in Japan. The SC was known as Soarer.

            There are many versions of the Crown. The top model is/was the Century Limo. Japanese didn’t used to buy vehicles with leather interiors. To this day they don’t in the same numbers as Americans. Crowns are frequently used as taxi cabs but when you get up into the Royal Majesta range, they are quite pricey. There is a performance first, which again I can’t recall. I have brochures for all of these Toyota models going back to the early 1990s, if I can lay my hands on them.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t recall EVER seeing the Infiniti name used in Japan until it was established as a separate brand around 2013. Lexus was also never seen as a brand name in Japan until Toyota merged “Vista” into “Auto” to form “Netz.” They then established Lexus as its own exclusive brand around 2005. My wife’s cousin runs the Lexus store in Nagano. There are very few Lexus stores in Japan and they are quite exclusive.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Welp, the Infiniti name was used in that commercial for the JDM up there in 1990.

            And in watching the commercial presentation, I agree the model name was “Infiniti Q45.”

          • 0 avatar
            Acubra

            You should work on your knowledge before confusing others.
            The Toyota RWD food chain in that time was:
            Mark II/Chaser/Cresta =>
            Crown (with taxi being Crown Sedan from 2 gens past, totally different platform) =>
            Crown Majesta / Aristo (aka Lexus GS300/400 overseas) =>
            Celsior (aka LS400) / Z30 Soarer (AKA sc300/400) / A80 Supra=>
            Century (unique platform)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Isn’t the Crown taxi always called “Crown Comfort?”

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Interesting Ruggles. I am pretty sure the first Lexus “Utility Vehicle” wore the LX450.

          • 0 avatar
            amca

            Ruggles – you mention the Japanese didn’t do leather. Just after introduction of the LS400, I saw one with a cloth interior at a dealer in Portland, OR. I wasn’t a velour – it was a rough, nubby variety, but super-cushy and fluffy. It appeared to be about an inch think, and soft as a cloud.

            Spectacular stuff, I’d go for it over that cheap leather they started out with – or even he good stuff – in an instant. Never saw another one. I’d be willing to bet it was one of about 3 that ever got imported in that trim. Americans demanded leather, even if it was the one part of the car they never got right.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The few vague references I’ve seen suggest that “Infiniti Q45” was the model name, but that car was badged the same as it was in the US so it was sort a weird reverse captive import kind of thing, sorta like “Opel by Buick” in the ’70s if Opels had been built in Loraine or somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      “comfort” moniker appeared later, in mid-90s I believe. Happened with one of the minor ichibu-kairyo” (small facelift). Optional longer rear doors in the same style as Nissan Crew (on the Nissan though one only left-rear door was long). In the early 90s though taxis were a regular S130-based Crown sedans, with simple 2L inline sixes, rear beam axles, column shift, driver-operated left-rear door opener, front bench (boy it was NOT spacious up there) and a talkative oji-san in white gloves installed as a default driver.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thanks!

        I love the gloves and doilies bit. I’m surprised they aren’t supposed to be utterly silent while driving.

        • 0 avatar
          Acubra

          It depends. Normally they are like cab drivers anywhere in the world. I mean, if you speak the language and are prepared to (mostly) listen, they will go on indefinitely. Those in small towns and rural areas much more so.

      • 0 avatar
        DownUnder2014

        the “Comfort” moniker appeared in 1995. And I agree with the thing about the front bench seat. The Crown Comfort front bench is very small and your knees are jammed against the meter. Although the newer ones are floor shift, at least in HK.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The vine detailing on the very early Q badges is… crazy. Whenever I saw them later, it always looked like the badge had cracked or de-laminated. You couldn’t tell it was decoration.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    That sucker is fast, the speedo is showing 180 MPH……

  • avatar

    A friend’s father traded a 1986 Jag on one of these and loved it. I always thought if I found a nice one, I’d buy it–but you’re right most of them have been trashed or modified far beyond the boundaries of good taste and common sense.

  • avatar

    Aurora did the grilleless front clip better.
    -Aurora owner

    #Aurorawasmorelegant #Aurorawouldn’thavemadeittothismileage #Overheatsprobjustathermostat.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Speaking of Olds.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/171706244543?forcerRptr=true&item=171706244543&viewitem=&sspagename=ADME:SS:SS:US:1120

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        12,5? Ah no, but worth buying for the right price.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Agree the price is very silly. But I didn’t know there were Final 500’s on all the models. Thought it was just the Alero and Aurora.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            All four models which were left at the time, N-body Alero, W-body Intrigue, G-body Aurora, and GMT360 Bravada. According to this site, there was also a “Final 360” of the U-body Silhouette which is news to me.

            http://www.outrightolds.com/index.php/story-of-olds/spotlight-on/final-500-series-cars

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The Alero and Intrigue are mixed in my mind. I cannot readily see their differences by memory. :(

            Certainly have never seen a final version Silhouette. You rarely see any of those ever anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I occasionally see Silhouettes but I was not aware of a “final” edition. The small time florist near where I live still drives a gold one.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            How did they have a Final 500 Intrigue, when the model was done 2 years prior to the end of Olds?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The closure of Olds was announced in 2000. I’m not up on how the Final 500 was rolled out, but it is possible it was planned in 2000 and as the models bit the dust the package would be offered.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ah, didn’t realize it was announced that soon. So they were making Final 500s for a few years then.

        • 0 avatar

          But dat prestine condition, tho. Also, it was hit.

          I sold Bravada Final 500 #287 to a family from Utah. They actually had a Final 500 Aurora and Alero as well. Nice folks. Flew into Orlando Sanford and I picked them up at the wrong airport. I sold it for like ~$9500, but this was back in 2010 and the truck had like 65k miles. Very nice shape. The owner didn’t even install the roof rack yet.

          A few months back, I saw a Final 500 Alero on the presale list at Manheim Tampa. It was a rough puppy, too – 125k miles, pretty beat, Regional Acceptance Corp repo. I know it went for nothing and if the interior were in good shape (it wasn’t…sadly), I would’ve bought it for the $700 it brought just to have. But as I said, the interior was decimated and it also had aftermarket wheels – and the interior and wheels are about 80% of why one would buy one of these cars anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Thatkat09

      My grandparents bought an Aurora somewhere around 2003. I don’t know much about their experience with it but what I do know is it caught fire overnight and when they went to drive it the next morning they found its burnt out husk(I have no idea how no one noticed it burning overnight). They bought a Lexus E.S 330 with the insurance money. That was their first foreign car(my grandfather used to rave about how the Japaneses companies used to bribe consumer reports and how american steel is always better), my grandmother still daily drives it to work everyday. I love GM but that’s how you loose life long loyal customers. Still though, the Aurora was a gorgeous car.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Flybrian, this Olds site is pretty sweet but I noticed they need model description/information for the Ninety Eight.

      http://www.outrightolds.com/index.php/olds-model-guide/oldsmobile-ninety-eight

  • avatar

    I have nothing but good to say about these cars. They were a dream to drive EXCEPT the weak link is the timing chain. And you know what happens when you lose a timing chain on an all aluminum 32 valve interference engine. Run, don’t walk away.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I thought the transmissions were also a weak point but I could be wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      If they were a chain and not a *belt*, I would feel much more comfortable about an interference engine.

      FTR, I had a B5 A4 2.8 5V. I got rid of it before I had to buy a second belt.

    • 0 avatar
      jberger

      Actually, the chain was fine, it was the timing chain guides that were the big issue. The early models had plastic retainers which would crack and crumble over time and trash the engine. If you swapped them out for the later metal versions they were fine, but it was a huge labor expense to access and replace them.

      The lack of proper transmission cooling killed a TON of these 90-93 models. Again, you could retrofit an additional cooler coupled with fluid flush fill and filter replacement every 2 years and they were fine, but the massive initial replacement cost took a bunch of them off of the road. They used the same transmission as the 300zx twin turbo, but the
      infiniti dealers marked up the replacement units much much higher than the Nissan dealer.

      I had a couple of these early Q45’s and put an insane number of miles on them when I was still traveling 5-6 days a week. With the right preventative care (shown above), you could put hundreds of thousands of miles on them with little to no mechanical issues. But you had to make sure the chain guides were metal and the tranny had a cooler or it was a money pit.

      People compared them to Lexus, but they were really more of a BMW level driving experience. I sold my E30 M3 for a Q45, the Q had plenty of power, great handling and was an excellent highway cruiser. I wish I could have owned one of the Q45a’s that had the active suspension, but I just didn’t have the time or inclination to deal with the hydraulic systems given the amount of time I was already spending in the car.

    • 0 avatar

      Did these have the notoriously sagging air suspension, or did that come later?

  • avatar

    The first time these came onto my personal radar is when I went to Japan as a teacher in ’99. They were an older design then, but they still looked fresh compared to the Toyota Century (which I’ve always thought looked like an old Chrysler).

    The mayor of our town had one of there and I used to see it out in front of city hall when I went to work in the mornings. It was black and in typical Japanese fashion had white lace seat covers and little doilies over the rear headrests. I remember thinking then that t he car had a cool look but I’ve never been in the actual sales demographic.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    What a weird badge. I thought someone had put stickers over it at first…

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      That badge is sweet. Yeah, I thought someone did their own little thing with a detailing pen at first too. Takes me back to the time when Japanese car companies actually gave a crap about the product they put out.

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    When these came out, the Nissan engineers who were interviewed expressed a legitimate concern that the car crushers of the day might have a challenge when it came time to crush the vehicle because of how well made it was. I loved them from that moment on. Unfortunately Nissan was shooting for BMW, and apparently what America wanted was Luxury, and the Lexus just creamed it in sales.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I was in the market for this type of car in the early 90s. The ridiculous ad campaign turned me off. I bought an LS400.
    The Q45 was, when I was in a friend’s, much more of a driver’s car. The launch was botched. Infiniti stuck with the stupid ad campaign and they never caught up to Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      But the gen 1 had numerous issues the LS400 did not, I’d say in the long run you dodged a bullet.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      We were also looking for a car when these came out, and while I preferred the driving dynamic of the Q45, the LS400 seemed like a car that was truly out of this world. We bought the LS400. We ended up not loving the coffin like isolation, but it was a great car in every regard aside from handling prowess. As silly as it sounds, the dash design and gauges of the LS400 vs. Q45 had a heavy hand in our decision. The stereo in the LS400 was better as well. Such nit picky things, but they were so much better than our ’89 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan – which was a good car until compared to the new Japanese luxo-barges.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Man…my dream car…I guess a dream deferred.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I’m mildly surprised that no one has grabbed the brakes and spindles yet. Easy 5-lug upgrade for the 240SX.

  • avatar
    facelvega

    What luxury cars of the nineties are still on the road in force? Buick, Volvo, Saab, BMW, and that’s basically it. Well, Mercedes until the W124 and W201 got replaced with the crappy W202/210, so you are way more likely now to see a ’90 Benz than a ’98. The vast majority of the Japanese cars are gone– even the Lexuses now, which were still plentiful three years ago, in that way much like 90s Audis. Oddly I do see a ton of RSXes in good shape, but they aren’t really luxury cars. The non-Buick American luxury cars are also thin on the ground now. Jaguars and Rovers too, obviously.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Not sure where you are located but there are still ES300s in my neck of the woods (and an occasional LS400 or SC300), also luxury Panthers are still on the prowl everywhere as well as 4.9 K, C, and E-body Cadillacs, and 3800 powered Olds “luxury” models. Once common old (90s) Northstar Cadillacs, Chryslers, Infinitis, and Acuras, are pretty much gone though I concur.

      • 0 avatar
        facelvega

        I bounce back and forth between NY and Boston every week. I also see Panthers, pre-Northstar Cadillacs and 3800 Oldses, it’s true, it’s just hard for me to see them as luxury cars and not just standard beaters. The Buicks make it in just from the sheer expanse of velour. And perhaps I do see ES300s everywhere, it’s hard to say because they’re effectively invisible. But I was in an LS400 recently, and it seemed like every single part on the car was finally coming apart simultaneously, while my Saab NG900 beater is still completely intact except for the climate control knobs.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      I was always told that only the European automakers supported their older models with a continued supply of spare parts, while the Japanese tended to stop once a model was 5-7 years out of production, while US brands were somewhere in the middle. That might explain why the older Germans and Swedes are still around in decent numbers. I expect the answer for Buick is that early 90s Buicks were built until the mid 2000s, so they are still recent enough for factory support.

      • 0 avatar
        facelvega

        A quick glance at Rockauto seems to show that most wear and tear parts for a Q45 are available from multiple suppliers and cheap. I think it is more a question of very different second and third owner profiles– old European cars, especially manuals, are significantly more likely to get second owners who stay on top of maintenance, and who keep them a long time. Old American cars at least get second owners who expect to have to fix things. Old japanese cars are more likely to get owners who beat them into the ground and don’t think about mainentance, just because that’s what they’ve learned to do with new Japanese cars.

        None of that makes old Audi electronics keep working or makes changing the head gaskets on a Northstar cost less than the car is worth, but once we correct for design flaws, it seems to hold pretty well.

      • 0 avatar

        In Japan, the warranty ends at 50K kilometers, about 26K miles. Japanese believe the car is worn out at that point, so luxury vehicles tend to be worth more for salvage than for retail. I purchased a 30K miles Q45 engine from Japan for less than $2K. That’s not bad for a 32 valve, DOHC, all aluminum V8 engine. Sadly, the timing chain on the “new” engine broke after around 50K additional miles. The first one had about 140K on it when it broke.

        • 0 avatar
          Acubra

          You are not exactly right – again.

          http://www.nissan.co.jp/SERVICE/YOKUARU/SHINSHA-HOSHO/

        • 0 avatar

          The warranty on various Japanese cars for the domestic market might have changed over the years. Since you want to nit pick I should have said “ended” instead of “ends” to refer to the era of the original Q45 versus LS400 days.

          The Nissan website you reference shows the current basic warranty to be 3 years/60K Kilometers with a drive line warranty of 5 years/100K kilometers. While that is slightly different from 25 years ago when these cars were introduced, it doesn’t change the fact that vehicles in Japan become worth more in salvage value than in intact wholesale value.

          There has been a booming business in wholesale autos in Japan for countries that require the steering wheel to be on the right side of the car. My dry cleaner used to buy cars at wholesale in Japan and ship them to the middle east. I was once vacationing in Barbados and pulled up to a red light. On the back of the Surf (4-Runner) in front of me was a dealer sticker from my client in Japan.

          But the recycling business is much different from what it is here especially based on when a vehicle meets the recycling business. Japanese consumers are discouraged from keeping a car so long by an inspection system called shaken. This has been relaxed somewhat in recent years, but still has substantial impact on consumers. I see the warranties have been slightly increased, although not by much. After all, Japanese OEMs want consumers to continue to trade cars faster than they need to.

          Despite all of their efforts, the Japanese consumer IS keeping their vehicle longer, but certainly not as long as the average American. Japanese don’t use their vehicles much, driving about half what an American drives. But it is important for Japanese to show their neighbors they can afford a car, even if it doesn’t do much except sit in under a cover.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Living in Newport Beach, California you tend to see the ‘hot’ cars of any era as a symbolism of what the moneyed-elite are buying. In the early 1990s it was the Q45 (the trade-in was a Porsche, according to reports at the time). The Lexus LS 400 appeared in large numbers also. By mid-1995 the Oldsmobile Aurora was showing up in impressive numbers (I was responsible for 242 Aurora sales in three years!).
    Today you will still see far more Auroras, Park Avenues, Ninety-Eights, Eighty-Eights and LeSabres than the imports from the same decade.
    Must be the 4.0 liter Northstar and the unbreakable Buick 3800!
    The 1990s were probably the last time that wealth and some measure of pragmatism went hand in hand. Today it’s just show off time . .

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Lexus was also selling the ls400 for a loss of between $30,00 $40,000 depending on the model. Don’t forget that the lexus ls400 cost a BILLION dollars to develop in 1988 that’s like what 2.5 billion on one model now?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I would be interested to see how many Lexus LS are junked, compared to other luxury makes, IMHO

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also appropriate for viewing here, look at this excellent link about the concept which lead to this car.

    http://www.car-revs-daily.com/2014/09/22/1985-nissan-cue-x/

  • avatar

    The original Q had a full active suspension option designated Q45a.

  • avatar

    RE: “Actually, the chain was fine, it was the timing chain guides that were the big issue. The early models had plastic retainers which would crack and crumble over time and trash the engine. If you swapped them out for the later metal versions they were fine, but it was a huge labor expense to access and replace them.”

    Yes, I was told it was the plastic guides that were the problem. In fact, I paid to have a NEW chain AND guides installed on the replacement engine. I suspect the shop collected from me and never did the work because that engine only lasted about 65K miles before losing its timing chain.

    Other than the chain issues, I loved those Qs, but the timing chain deal soured me. They drove wonderfully, better than my current MB E320.

  • avatar

    Crown Majesta held more cachet than Celsior when I was spending a lot of time in Japan.

    I recall a high speed run through the mountains in Nagano in an AWD Aristo with the twin turbo straight six Supra engine. That was an impressive car.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Dunno when you visited Japan, but as long as we speak about 1991-99…

      Majesta has always been much more plebeian, starting at mid-300’s (万円, ten thousand yen) for a 6-cyl 3L basic one and up to low 600’s. 万円 (as of 1995-96). What is worse, just like everything with Crown in its name it had that inaka-no oyaji-ppoi (boring old village fart) whiff about it – in other words, not cool.

      Celsior, on the other hand, never had 6 cylinder engines, and its price range had been in mid 500’s to 600.

      • 0 avatar

        My wife has a house in Japan. We are there often. I did consulting work there for one of the world’s largest privately owned dealer groups. 1993 to 2011.

        I never said Crown Majesta was “cool.” You’re missing the boat on Japanese culture. Its an American view that a larger engine is more desirable. Now that Lexus has been turned into an established Japanese brand, it is plenty “cool.” Celsior wasn’t highly regarded versus the top Crowns when I began working there. That took awhile. I asked plenty of Japanese from the beginning which they preferred, and the answer was always “Crown.” I would try to tell them the Celsior is “more car.” It took years for that to become reality in the Japanese mind. Even Lexus didn’t take off from the beginning. My wife’s cousin had a rough time from the beginning, although things eventually took off.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    Well, if you are really keen on one of these, there is currently a JDM Nissan President on Craigslist Vancouver…. the mechanical bits shouldn’t be a problem parts-wise, as those from the Q45 should fit.

    http://vancouver.craigslist.ca/bnc/cto/4891853325.html

    Having looked an another one of these a few months ago, they are not as nicely put together, compared to its Lexus contemporaries.

  • avatar
    210delray

    It’s too bad the grilleless look never caught on. We’d be spared the hideous gaping maws on so many of today’s cars, trucks, and SUVs.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Talked Dad into buying one of these used in his twilight years. They were just so darn cheap. As I recall, maybe $12,000 for a 5 year old model. Very fast from a slow roll. Not terribly reliable and I regret the recommendation, although given the price it was still probably an OK choice objectively speaking.

    When Dad died, the children all gathered for the funeral and to dispose of the things. We all lived out of town and wr were under yime constraints. The Infinity was a problem because it was not in good condition by then. Dad’s gas station wouldn’t let us park it there with a for sale sign, so my brother took it to a shopping center with a gym. Sure enough, a 40 year old Hispanic lady saw the nice looking (from a 20 foot distance) and good running car and bought it for $500. When she dropped by the house to complete the transaction, she saw my sisters sorting through the things and of course broke down in tears.

    We didn’t see it that way at all. We were grateful to be rid of the car and Dad would have been pleased that this woman got the bargain.

    Sorry for being more of a downer even than Crab spirits.

  • avatar

    RE: “Interesting Ruggles. I am pretty sure the first Lexus “Utility Vehicle” wore the LX450.”

    I stand corrected. Yes, the rebadged Landcruiser did precede the RX (Harrier,) although Harrier was also
    already selling in Japan.

  • avatar

    RE: “Ruggles – you mention the Japanese didn’t do leather. Just after introduction of the LS400, I saw one with a cloth interior at a dealer in Portland, OR. The fluffy, soft cloth they had seemed to be about an inch think, and soft as a cloud.”

    Japanese DO leather, but Japanese consumers don’t take to it in any numbers, even though that is gradually changing. Strangely, they don’t like the smell. The initial LS400s included a leather interior which really looked luxurious, with wrinkles, tufts, etc. I can’t vouch for how it wore. The Q45 had a much more rugged leather interior. It is clear which approach won.

    The first couple of years the LS400 in the U.S. came with a cloth option, which was standard in the JDM Celsior. It wasn’t very popular and Toyota dropped it as an option. But it worked out well for me. A friend made a deal with GE Capital, which did the initial leasing for the LS400. He bought all of the LS400s that came off of 24 month leases in the SE region for their residual value. The cars were bringing original MSRP so my buddy retired early. I took many of the ones with the cloth interiors and shipped them to Fort Worth for re wholesale. That worked well until the supply ran out. Unfortunately for me, there were never that many with the cloth interior but many TX ladies preferred not to scald their legs when wearing tennis outfits. The extra $2K the cloth cars brought in DFW more than offset the cost to ship them.

    Spectacular stuff, I’d go for it over that cheap leather they started out with – or event he good stuff – in an instant. Never saw another one. I’d be willing to bet it was one of about 3 that ever got imported in that trim.

  • avatar

    Having initially disliked these 90s Japanese cars, I have become rather fond of them. This Q45 is really refined in its exterior treatment, or perhaps even severe. I quite like that. About leather: I have come to the view that leather might be practical but mostly it´s less pleasant than good cloth. The images I have seen of the Toyota Century all feature grey velour (I think its velour). Having had a car with velour and the very same car (1990 Citroen XM) with leather, I find the velour was much more pleasant both in tactile terms and acoustically. If had the cash, I´d replace the leather with velour in an instant It was called Romana and was 10 or 20% wool. Top nice.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    My uncle in Cambridge, MA had one of these. It lived a hard life, outdoor parking for long periods of inactivity followed by infrequent blasts to Conn. and surrounding region. It was pretty much bulletproof and wore quite well, and was the definition of luxury at the time for me.

  • avatar
    emanistan

    As philisophical as I try to be about cars, it still hurts me on an almost personal level to see the disrespect the original Q45 was subjected to, and how mistreated so many of the ones that have survived are. I first saw the Q45 at the 1989 auto show at Moscone Center in SF when I was 15, and I’d never seen a car like it. It had a totally unique beauty on the outside, & conveyed quality on every little detail, & to this day, I’ve never sat in a more comfortable interior, even having ridden in several Mercedes & Beemers since. To my 15 year old mind it was inconceivable that this car wouldn’t take the country by storm & become the ultimate prestige machine.

    This spring a very pretty 1990 Q45 with a low serial number ended up at the local pick-n-pull here in Redding. I was almost tempted to save it, but soon came to grips with the fact that I had neither the time, the money, the space, let alone the trailer to do so, so-even though it makes me feel lie a vandal-I went about saving as much from the crusher as I could. Naturally the cloisonné emblem was the first thing to go, and is now on my wall, then I spent the next few weeks dismantling the doors to get at the pretty oval door handles, then I got all of the seats, front and back, which I’m in the process of restoring in order to mount in my van.

    Even as a junkyard hulk its a beautiful car. Redding gets very hot, but even with no power to it’s AC, the Q45’s interior is still comfortable, and it’s usually my break spot during long days in the yard. Taking it apart, I’m still impressed by it’s build quality: the only junkyard car I’ve worked with yet that’s as solidly put together as a Mercedes.


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