By on May 29, 2018

This is one of those times when I was actively keeping an eye out for a particular Rare Ride. It’s one which is hard to come by in any decent condition, and harder still to find listed with pictures worth using in an article.

The day has finally arrived. It’s time for M45.

By my count, this will be the third time I’ve talked about Infiniti’s angular M45 on these pages. The first time was a while back when Rare Rides covered this vehicle’s older sibling, the Nissan Gloria Brougham VIP. The second time was this past week, when I selected the M45 to receive one of five sedan spaces in my Crapwagon Garage QOTD.

Perhaps the internet willed this car into existence out in Massachusetts just so I could write about it.

Back in the early 2000s, Infiniti was undergoing a model restructuring effort. Winding down were the Primera-based G20, Maxima-based I35, and veiled Pathfinder QX4 models. In a bid to appeal to more enthusiast luxury buyers, Infiniti was busy infusing more driving fun into its lineup. The company swapped front-drive sedans and a single SUV for rear-drive sedans (G35/M45), a rear-drive coupe (G35), and two new rear-drive based SUVs (FX/QX). The only remaining model from Infiniti of old was the flagship Q45 large sedan, which also entered a new (final) generation in 2002.

The M45 sat in the middle of Infiniti’s lineup. It slotted above the new G35 and the final couple years of I35, and beneath the flagship V8 Q45. Availability started in 2003, and Infiniti planned to take on the 5 Series with its serious new sedan.

Coming up with the M45 required considerable work on the part of Infiniti. The company looked across the water to the Japanese domestic market, where the Y34 Nissan Gloria had been for sale since the 2000 model year. The hardtop sedan was born when Nissan asked Porsche for assistance in designing a new version of its long-running Gloria nameplate.

Though all Glorias in Japan saw motivation from six-cylinder engines, Infiniti felt this would not do for the luxury customer in North America. Something needed to be done about that interior, as well.

Tune in next time, when we see how things went down for the M.

[Images: seller]

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37 Comments on “Rare Rides: North America’s Gloria Moment – the 2003 Infiniti M45 (Part I)...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    My dad had one. Not great. About as long as a SWB 7 series, as cramped inside as an E90 3 series. Dynamically, a mess. Undersprung and overdamped in a failed bid to retain comfort with those low profile tires while maintaining some level of body control. Highlight was the engine by far, pulled like a freight train (and inhaled fuel like one too). My dad had one because we were a Nissan family, and they basically gave it to him (it was a holdover from the previous year). I cannot imagine who would pay full price for one of these over a similar era Lexus GS.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Well that burst my bubble. I’ve always liked these (the V8 in a smaller platform than the Q45), and I saw them as sort of a hot rod. Guess I won’t be buying one after all. It doesn’t sound like they took enough of Porsche’s advice. They don’t look so good in red, either.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        But they look great in that pewter looking silver.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I mean, if you’re just looking for a big, rare, reliable V8 cruiser, it’s a solid buy. But as the sport sedan it was marketed as, I was thoroughly disappointed. Dynamically it’s a mess.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The Cedric/Gloria were always intended as big comfy cruisers (despite the occasional sporty trim). If you wanted handling, you bought a Skyline.

        • 0 avatar

          You just described American car. Why choose this one over say Buick Electra or any Panther? Or Chevy Caprice? Chevy Caprice looks fantastic compared with this bland Nissan.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            “Why choose this over a (mainstream American sedan from the 90s)?”

            For starters, an interior made from materials better than Rubbermaid. Also nearly 2x the horsepower.

            Lol @ complaining about this being bland, and recommending a Buick Electra. I get it, you like American cars… but your arguments suck.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I remember reading an early review of these decrying the styling as that of a generic car on an auto shop sign. I didn’t pay the car any mind until about 10 years ago when I started to appreciate what it was – essentially what Japan thought an American car from the 1970s would be like if built today.

    I keep an eye out for them now, but I assume most are well worn out thanks to their relative unpopularity and winding up in the hands of BHPH lots 2 or 3 owners ago. Fortunately seeing them with high miles means they can take abuse pretty well.

  • avatar
    jmo2

    I always thought these were the best looking cars on the market at the time. It’s the combination of slick understated high end JDM that I like. It’s sort of a sporty Toyota Century.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I too was a fan of the design. Never got closer than passing on the highway though. Sort of a unicorn around these parts even when they were on sale.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      They are distinctive, like the J30 was, without being over the top (current Lexus…anything).

      I find it handsome and a little elegant, but I do kinda like the flatter, more plain grille on some versions of the JDM Gloria.

      These are certainly on my list of Japanese oddballs I’d own if given the chance. The J30 is, too, even though I had one for a short time.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    These are so pretty.

    But so fragile inside. Every now and then I take a look at the used ones on the market, and the interior is invariably somewhere between “badly worn” and “trashed.”

    I’ve never driven one, but given Nissan of the time I can easily believe sportyaccordy’s complaints about dynamics.

    But they’re so pretty.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      For me it was Maximas and I35s(?) I looked at, most with rust and torn leather, at least the engines were decent.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      To be fair, I have unreasonably high standards for dynamics. I change the suspension/brakes/tires of pretty much every car I buy. For just tooling around and looking at this is fine.

      My only other gripe would be infotainment. I don’t know if these came with Bluetooth………………..

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Ha, finally found one with decent pics.

    Here’s an ancestor with Corey-approved grille:
    https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/1991-nissan-gloria-brougham-vip/

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    I remembering seeing these new on the dealer’s lot around 2003-2004. They were so distinctive you couldn’t help looking. The rear overhang was crazy. It’d be utterly awesome to own one of these – for a little while. This is the same thought I have about a Phaeton!

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Not that the car doesn’t deserve two different perspectives, but Automobile magazine’s site ran a story about the M45 two days ago – from the viewpoint of its possible status as a future classic: http://www.automobilemag.com/news/underappreciated-2003-2004-infiniti-m45/

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Sadly, most of these came with a trunk-mounted spoiler which looked about as good as donk wheels on a Cayenne. I’m surprised this red one doesn’t have it, it’s the first one I’ve seen without it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Glorious!

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    next up… the Acura Vigor!

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      Lord…one of the very worst vehicles to ever work on. I replaced a clutch on one and immediately started to see the value of Dr. Kevorkian’s services. I replaced a clutch master cylinder on a different one and my head nearly exploded when I realized I had to pull relays out of the fuse panel to create clearance for my extension/universal to reach one of the mounting bolts.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    $7K? For this old thing?

    This cars just a mess from any angle. Accord tailights, Crossfire face, and a side profile that clearly doesnt match up with the wheelbase, I dont get the appeal. The Toyota Avon of that time may lack RWD, but it does a similar look much better.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes. This 2003 (actually 2000 in Japan) car obviously copied the 2008 Crossfire. Brilliant!

      And yes, the “Avon” may lack RWD, but it sure is a lot better at being a boring and bloated Camry than this EVER was. You got that right, sir. Another spot-on observation.

      (Maybe because this was designed to be, um, not slow and pathetic to drive, thus the RWD and V-8 engine?)

  • avatar
    IBx1

    The most beautiful car Infiniti ever stamped into existence. Perfect proportions, long, low, and wide, and a pretty stout drivetrain. I’ve done my homework on these and want to have one with the cooled seats.

    This was the most focused car Infiniti ever had, besides maybe the FX35, since most of the brand never really had a set direction to follow. It’s a shame this didn’t carry more influence to future products.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      It looks like a Mercedes that went through a dog.

    • 0 avatar
      markmeup

      “The most beautiful car Infiniti ever stamped into existence. Perfect proportions, long, low, and wide, and a pretty stout drivetrain.”

      Couldn’t agree more. love them from every angle and… that stance.

      I regret not buying a shiny new one at the time, would be parked in the garage right now.

      There’s a dk. grey M45 that occasionally appears around here each summer, and I can’t help but stare in lust every time it rolls by. still want one.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these in flyover country. Infiniti is already scarce on the ground outside of Omaha and Lincoln, and big sedans even moreso.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Damn, seven grand!

    (Pulls up the Scottrade account, looks for low hanging fruit to sell…)

  • avatar
    dal20402

    So after looking at a bunch more pictures I’ve determined that this M45 is the WRONG COLOR.

    These need to be black or pewter, with dark tinted windows. There is no other valid color choice.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    I’m surprised how many people praise the looks of this car; the Nissan Gloria, to my eye, has one of the ugliest fascia’s of the era. Also didn’t know these made it Stateside.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      I agree. However, beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder. I for one love the look of the new Honda Accord, for example – a sentiment that is exactly the opposite of most of the contributors to this site and in the automotive press!

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