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

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.

  • 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.
  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.