By on June 1, 2018

In the last edition of Rare Rides, we discussed Infiniti’s early-00s product makeup and introduced ourselves to the Japanese-market Nissan Gloria. It was that middle-market sedan which formed the basis of Infiniti’s sporty new midsize.

Today we cover the changes Infiniti made to the Gloria to prep it for its big North American debut, where the automaker hoped to take on BMW’s 5 Series.

The people at Infiniti borrowed the 4.5-liter V8 from the flagship Q45 and sandwiched it into the Gloria’s smaller engine bay. Serving two simultaneous goals, the larger engine added prestige and credibility to the new model, while helping spread out some of the development costs for the 4.5-liter V8. A brand new engine for 2002, its main purpose was use in the low-volume Q45.

The power available in the Q and M was nothing to sneeze at in the early ’00s: 340 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque move through the rear wheels via the five-speed auto.

Other Gloria alterations included swapping the part-amber rear lenses for solid red ones, and replacing the front clip with an Infiniti-designed version. The interior was also reworked and upgraded, evidenced by this image of a standard Japanese Gloria’s interior. Infiniti’s designers implemented what was basically a scaled-down Q45 interior to make the M45 suitably luxurious. The suspension was also reworked — the new rear multi-link setup was similar in design to the contemporary 350Z.

Despite all this, the somewhat narrow body (for American tastes), frameless windows, and angular styling did not appeal to consumers in the way Infiniti planned. Sales were low, and the model was dropped at the end of 2004, after just two years in Infiniti’s lineup.

The M name would go dormant again for another year, until it was revived starting in 2006. That year saw a combination of sorts. The Q45 was in its last year, and the M badge was applied to Nissan’s new Fuga model. This larger sedan was a size up from the Gloria and a size down from the Nissan President-based Q45. From then on (continuing until today) the M maintained flagship sedan status in Infiniti’s showrooms (it’s now called Q70).

Today’s example is in excellent condition, with just under 84,000 miles on the odometer. The owner maintained it well, keeping everything original and staying away from winter weather. Shiny red paint covers the tan interior, which is an uncommon combo. Almost as if by design, the M45 asks a Crapwagon Garage-approved $7,400 before negotiation. The seller indicates he’s leaving the country, so there’s assuredly some time limit on this sale as well.

Someone go grab it.

[Images: seller]

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47 Comments on “Rare Rides: North America Raises a Brow – the 2003 Infiniti M45 (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    I always thought this car looked like what a unibody Ford Crown Victoria could have been if given a new lease on life. Not quite large enough, but the proportions and styling were right.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    340 HP from the 4.5 V-8, not 240.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Buy it Corey.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I almost bough one of these a few years ago. Really a fantastic car, one of the best Oldsmobiles ever built. I was scared off by the complexity (lots of electrical options) and the cost of parts and repairs. That being said, a beater M45 is a lot cheaper to fix than a beater from Germany.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    While I am sure this is a very nice car for being a Nissan, but that is a crack pipe price. You’re basically at LS430 pricing which is a superior car with a better motor.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Yes, this car will do burnouts.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    that car needs to be in a state where front license plates don’t exist.

    that front plate ruins it!

  • avatar
    MoDo

    I remember seeing ads for this in the car magazines back then. It said “A muscle car with brains” and the picture was it racing a 69 Charger off a stop light. Always thought it was pretty cool – but apparently not enough lol

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    This car looked dated instantly when the E60 5 series came out in 2004.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I have a question, why would I buy this over a cheaper Q45?

    The Q looks nicer (if blatantly a Mercedes copy), costs $1k-$2k less on average, and it uses the same engine while more than likely providing more space around it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    The only problem I had with this car when it came out was that most were sold in black, and thus looked pretty much like a cheaper Mercury Marauder.
    I’ll go ahead and wait for the Panther brigade to jump me now.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Like we said at GM Powertrain in the 80s.
    G*d in his infinite wisdom made all animals rear drive.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Epitomises the generic object humans call “car”. Picture suitable for use in dictionary or front page of auto parts catalog. Not trying to be overly critical, but before I read the text, that was my immediate reaction. At least the 5 Series tried.

    This could be a Shed of the Week contender on PistonHeads UK. It’s shiny and would make a wonderful Q-ship, invisible to the Jacks, Mr Plod or the Rozzers, although not with LHD. Absence of apparent driver would be a bit of a dead giveaway. “Hello, hello, hello! What have we got here then?” JDM model required for Blighty.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The first thing I’d do would be to find some Gloria taillights with the amber turn signals. Why did Infiniti think that taking them off was a good idea?

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    Oh the memories! I worked for Nissan North America’s corporate office during this period and had one of these for several months. Pretty smooth riding but horrible in rain and snow given its light weight, sporty tires and powerful engine combo. Surprisingly limited headroom and tight back seat legroom when drivers seat in my 6’6” position. The early v8 engines was known to burn oil quickly. I still like the looks and thought it was a total sleeper for the time period.

  • avatar

    Would it be nice if Oldsmobile and Pontiac had a afterlife in Asia like Kodak, Polaroid, Xerox, Volvo, Buick and other bankrupt American brands. Nissan would build them profitably just for kicks. Same car with slightly different sheet metal. I always liked not your father’s Oldsmobiles especially Aurora (if ignore quality and GM engineering of course).

  • avatar
    jfbar167

    As much as I have LOVED this car ever since it came out, truth be told, the proportions (especially at the rear) have NOT aged very well. If it were my money I’d look at something like this

    https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/731567639/overview/

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I look at it and think “not bad”. Then I look at an SC300/400 and realize the infinity just doesn’t look good.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    These always turn my head, and i’ve been intrigued by this generation for a long time. So rare around here that I never see one for sale. I do, however, see a fair number of the following generation M45s, which go for absurdly lower prices than comparable ‘Mercs and BMWs, or Lexus. From what I can tell, they have an expensive and unrepairable issue with driver’s seat frames. I still think Nissan should have brought the 8th-gen Cedric to North America.

    • 0 avatar

      Show me some examples of this unrepairable seat frame issue. I’ve looked at lots of the third generation M, and have owned one now since 2013. Haven’t seen what you’re referring to.

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        Apparently a tubular support breaks at the weld and the seat falls down towards the console. Lots of references in the Inifiti forums. Glad you’ve had good luck with your M35, I still wonder why it depreciate so much more than it’s Lexus competition. M35s are dirt cheap around here, even with low mileage.

        • 0 avatar

          That sounds like a safety issue, and something that would be a forced recall. Can’t be safe in an accident, if that tube breaks under normal usage.

          I think the depreciation is from a couple of reasons:

          -Badge not as good as Lexus.
          -Mostly forgotten.
          -Blocky styling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
          -Build quality is not as good as GS.
          -Refinement not as good as GS.

          Edit: From a quick search, it looks like the people having this seat issue have 2006 and 2007 examples. Wonder if they changed something quietly for the 2008 refresh.

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