Rare Rides: A 1996 Infiniti J30, Luxury Sedan With a Heart of 300ZX (Part I)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 1996 infiniti j30 luxury sedan with a heart of 300zx part i

The other day while we were reviewing the daringly spectacular first generation Q45, commenter SSJeep requested coverage of Infiniti’s other rear-drive sedan from the period, the J30. I thought Rare Rides already covered Infiniti’s mid-size offering, but it turned out I was remembering an installment of Buy/Drive/Burn.

That means it’s time for J30.

At launch, Infiniti covered the luxury bases with its entry-level G20, the full-size Q45, and its middle offering known as M30. That Nissan Leopard-based coupe was on the small size for luxury customers, was rather basic inside, and was too expensive in convertible guise. After it proved a slow seller for model years 1990 to 1992, it was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by a new middle sibling from Infiniti: J30.

Available from 1993, the J30 was Infiniti’s attempt to take on the Giugiaro-designed Lexus GS with its own uniquely shaped sedan. Curved surfaces were plentiful on the J30, which wrapped around to a somewhat abrupt rear with a very low deck. Infiniti brass made sure to include a grille this time, and more importantly, showed the new J30 in its commercials. Said commercials included swanky jazz music and voiceover from the imposing Jonathan Pryce.

The J30 was considerably smaller in external dimensions than its competition, and like the Q45, Infiniti marketed its alternative nature as a selling point. Materials referred to the J30 as a personal luxury sedan, stopping just short of a four-door coupe moniker.

Infiniti turned to Italian furniture house Poltrona Frau once more for the J30’s interior, as they did with the Q45 a few years prior. Carried over from Q45 was the idea of a contrasting color scheme inside between seats and dash, but Infiniti learned from other visual mishaps with their flagship. The J30 had plenty of ruched leather, wood trim, and a nice clock (the clock even received its own ad). Seats were made at the Poltrona Frau factory in Italy, at the rate of just five per day.

It seemed all the necessary ingredients were coming together to make the J30 a successful sports luxury soufflé. Unfortunately, there was one big piece of eggshell in the mix which proved very off-putting to consumers. More on that in Part II.

[Images: seller]

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3 of 27 comments
  • Tonycd Tonycd on Dec 16, 2020

    TTAC's ghost is truly dead if nobody mentions the many colorful anecdotes Jack Baruth told on this site about selling this very model at considerable savings.

    • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Dec 16, 2020

      I remember reading about Vodka McBigbra and various fancy ladies.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Dec 16, 2020

    In early '00s a college friend inherited her mom's J30T, the sportier option. I really thought the interior was really nice but small. I drove it a few times and really enjoyed driving her around , I'd had only RWD experience w/ USDM muscle cars with stick axles. Its a shame whats happening to Infiniti. Here in KC, the only dealership had to merge with a Nissan affiliate . So much for the luxury dealership experience when Rogue/Sentra buyers share space.

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.