Rare Rides: North America Raises a Brow - the 2003 Infiniti M45 (Part II)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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]
Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jun 03, 2018

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

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Jun 04, 2018

    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.

    • See 2 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jun 05, 2018

      @Lightspeed 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.

  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.
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