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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the original infiniti a q45 from 1991 part ii

In Part I of this two-parter, we discussed the birth of the Infiniti brand, and Nissan’s decision to reinvent the large luxury car with the Q45. Today we talk technology, advertising, and aftermath.

Infiniti continued its unconventional choices with Q45 into the ride and handling as well and aimed for maximum sportiness. It had fast steering, short lower gears for faster acceleration, and a big 4.5-liter V8 that managed 276 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque. A new engine, the VH45 was used exclusively in two cars, the President and the Q45. Class-leading at the time, the aluminum block engine had multi-port fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing.

Q45 took its handling much more seriously than any of the competition. Nissan designed a new suspension for both trims above the base (the t and a); multi-link all around with front and rear sway bars. There was even four-wheel steering and an active suspension on the Q45a. The suspension system used 10 sensors that controlled hydraulic actuators at each wheel. The benefits of the active suspension were a more balanced ride quality and greatly reduced body roll. The latter tech was on the Q45 about a decade before other manufacturers implemented such technology. There was also a limited-slip differential for good measure.

Unfortunately, Infiniti also took an unconventional approach to advertising and made the now-infamous decision to advertise the Q45 without showing the car. Take the ad above for example, where a man rambled about Infiniti’s qualities in an American Psycho sort of way, while viewers watched sunlight over waves. No Q45, no M30, but give them a call and they’ll sell you whatever.

While Q45’s performance-oriented nature and unique approach to car and commercial found favor with glossy car magazines, it simply did not work with consumers. Americans wanted a big grille, comfortable seats, wood, leather, and ads that showed them the physical product. That’ll be LS 400 then. Worth a mention is another issue in the early Q45: plastic timing change guides. Many Q45s were taken off the roads at low mileage when their timing chains went, which ruined the engines and consumer perception of a new brand.

Infiniti responded in 1993 with a refreshed Q45 which was softened considerably, had slower steering, and almost all the visuals Americans desired. The timing chain issue was fixed in 1993 as well, with the addition of metal timing chain guides. But by then the Q45’s niche fate was sealed. Infiniti sapped the steering in 1995 to make it even slower and dropped the t and a trims for the first generation’s final year in 1996. You know the rest.

Today’s Rare Ride is available at an import dealer in Virginia. With 41,000 miles, it’s around the mileage where timing chain failures occurred. Maybe the chain was replaced preemptively. Take the risk for $10,972.

[Images: seller]

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3 of 22 comments
  • DenverMike DenverMike on Dec 08, 2020

    Its looks were s huge gamble. The mid/late '80s Maxima, Cressida and 923 were very stately with prominent/strong facial features. Acura and Lexus wisely went with the traditional. So did Infiniti with the facelifted version, but it was too late. Infiniti had no brand cache to override its unfortunate looks.

  • SSJeep SSJeep on Dec 09, 2020

    @Corey Lewis - can you do one on the Infiniti J30?

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Dec 09, 2020

      I thought I had but I guess it was only in a BDB. I'll look for one.

  • Analoggrotto So UAW is singling out Ford, treating them slightly better in order to motivate the entire effort. Mildly Machiavellian but this will cost them dearly in the future. The type of ill will and betrayal the Detroit-3 must be feeling right now will be the utter demise of UAW. I just hope that this tribulation is not affecting Mary Barra's total hotness.
  • Redapple2 I guessed they were ~$150,000. Maybe attainable.
  • Redapple2 want one.
  • Redapple2 Brutal business. I should have stayed in Aviation (Boeing, RTX)
  • 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.