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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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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  • 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.

  • Linda Hartleib Linda Hartleib on Aug 01, 2023

    We have a 1990 Infinity Q45 with 45,000 miles on it. Never driven in the rain and garaged. It needs repair on brakes as it is leaking brake fluid. Wondering if there is resale value and do mecanics still work on them?

  • Lou_BC I don't like the looks of this era of Ramcharger. I prefer the removal top. I would buy 1st or 2nd generation. A 1st generation 1974 with 440 would be amazing. I like the '79's stacked headlights.
  • Art_Vandelay “Fain also invited President Joe Biden to join the striking workers on the picket line”Yes. Please go on strike Joe. One of this Cosmo Kramer Bagel making strikes that lasts for a decade or so
  • SCE to AUX No sitting President should visit a picket line.
  • Scott So a sled manufacturer makes a sled on wheels. Where is the surprise?
  • Add Lightness I had one of these for a company truck. It was also 2WD thankfully as part-by-part the truck got everything replaced over the course of a year. If it was 4WD, that would have just hurt the company more fixing the extra drivetrain.