Rare Rides: The Original Infiniti, a Q45 From 1991 (Part I)

rare rides the original infiniti a q45 from 1991 part i

We’ve covered the second album of Infiniti’s ill-fated Q45 flagship previously, in a stunningly clean example from 1998. However, the first generation is much harder to find; they just didn’t have the longevity or caring ownership profile of the Lexus LS 400. But someone in Japan maintained this one, and it’s been imported to the US just for you.

It’s time for blue-green, grille-free luxury.

Today is the first of two parts on the Q45 since there’s a considerable amount of information to cover. Introduced in late 1989 as a 1990 model, the Infiniti brand was launched the same time as Lexus, and a few years behind Acura. At launch the brand had two models on offer: the flagship full-size Q45, and the much smaller (but still expensive) M30 coupe and convertible. Naturally, most of the eyes were on the Q45.

The Q45 was a short wheelbase version of Nissan’s JDM flagship, the President. A conservative choice in Japan, the President of 1989 was the same basic car Nissan sold since 1965, though to their credit it was revised slightly in 1973. Nissan needed a new President and knew Lexus was on its way with big new product. The company took two birds one stone approach, and Infiniti was born. The new President was shortened by six inches, given a new front and rear clip, and reworked for the American market. The project also served to create a smaller, less expensive President that Nissan could sell later in Japan, the President JS (1993 onward). The President’s rework into the Q45 was substantial, however, and Infiniti didn’t want to follow any typical large car tropes.

Thus, Infiniti sought to redefine the Modern Luxury Sedan with Q45. Rather than the floaty boat and S-Class copy approach Toyota took with the Lexus LS, Infiniti leaned more into a more BMW mindset. Then they added additional sportiness and subtracted traditional luxury car cues. There was no proud grille, no hood ornament, no wood trim, and no ruching of leather. Instead, the Q45’s nose was completely without adornment and featured only headlamps and a flat cloisonné badge with intricate floral detailing behind the Infiniti logo.

Inside, would-be customers found an interior designed with assistance from Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau. Surfaces were padded, the leather seats were covered in taut hides and provided firm support, and colors contrasted between seats, dashboard, and floor mats. It was a lot for American consumers to take in, assuming they could see the car. But that’s for next time.

In Part II, we’ll discuss the technological side of this Rare Ride, and see how making such bold moves went for the flagship of Nissan’s new luxury brand.

[Images: seller]

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  • Jberger Jberger on Dec 08, 2020

    I owned a 90 and a 91, I still miss these cars. The Q45 was a much better driver's car than the LS, but reliability issues killed the Q45 and by the time Nissan sorted out the issues, they had lost their way on what they wanted the brand to be. The cam guides and tranny issues doomed the resale on these. I think I ended up with 3 transmissions in the 90. They did finally release a fix, I think in late 92, but the damage was already done for most of the original owners. They remapped the shift to start in 1st gear and added a new tranny cooler system to keep from burning the fluid. After those changes, the tranny issues were gone. The cam guide issue grenaded those 90-92 models that survived the transmission issues and as a result, not many of them survived. Nissan used plastic guides for the timing chain that were prone to cracking apart, the broken pieces would get jammed into the guides and cause the motor to jump time with disastrous results. They did release an all metal cam guide for replacement, but the shop labor was extremely expensive and often turned down by owners who would dump the cars before the warranty expired. I really enjoyed both of mine, even with the upkeep, and once the problems were sorted out, they were very reliable, but the first 100k was not for the faint of heart.

  • Chocolatedeath Chocolatedeath on Dec 08, 2020

    This my original dream car. I had the pleasure of driving it twice, once the year it came out and back in I want to say 2005. I loved everything about them and it was the reason for my Infiniti love that I had for so many years. I even liked the last gen alot as well. I wanted one so badly however by the time I got to a stage in life that I could afford it I could not find one in good enough condition. They are ran into the ground. They are still my favorite sedans of all time. I hate what Nissan had done to Infiniti now.

  • Tane94 are both eligible for federal tax credits? That's the big $7,500 question.
  • Jkross22 Toenail says what?
  • MaintenanceCosts This sounds like old-school GM drama!
  • SCE to AUX It's not really a total re-badge since some of the body parts are unique, and the interiors are quite different.As I mentioned the other day, the Tonale has a terrible name and a dim future.As for the Alfa team - guess what, this is how corporate ownership works. You are part of Stellantis partly because you're not viable as a standalone business, and then your overlords decide what's shared among the products.By the way: That Uconnect infotainment system found in Alfas was originally a Chrysler product... you're welcome.
  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.
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