Junkyard Classic: 1992 Infiniti M30 Convertible – Hidden Under A Rock Behind A Tree

I dusted these pictures of an M30 Convertible off after I read William’s draft of his Infiniti piece that ran earlier this morning and figured this would be as good a time as any to share them.  This is one of the earliest cars I shot towards the beginning of this year and as such the pictures seem to suffer from the same Colonel Sanders syndrome that affected some of JPC’s recent posts using older shots, however I prefer to view the car as just having an ethereal glow emanating from it due to some higher power.

You’ll be forgiven for not immediately recognizing this car, as we all know, Infiniti did itself no favors by not actually showing any of their cars in their introductory advertising campaign in favor of trees, rocks and other scenes of nature.  Although the flagship Q45 is now well-known to most of us if never universally desired, the wall-flower M30 never really stood a chance after that initial miscue.

A neighbor of mine in the late 90’s had one, a Coupe in that dark red that many seemed to be.  I went for several rides in it and I have to say it wasn’t particularly memorable in any way.  A Q45 however would have been much more interesting, and looking at the other end of the market, my own G20 that I owned soon thereafter fast became one of my favorite cars.  Then again, I wasn’t really into just loafing around in those days, I might find one of these quite interesting nowadays.

The M30 coupe only lasted three years (1990-1992) and sold about 17,000 copies (according to one source, although others claim 11,000 and 12,000, so it’s perfectly understandable if some of you have never seen one.  The convertible accounted for about 2,500 (agreed in all places) of that total and was only offered for 1991 and 1992.  While the M30 is very much based on the Japanese market Nissan Leopard, the Leopard was never offered as a convertible.  Nissan shipped M30 Coupes to American Sunroof Company in California and they performed the necessary surgery for exclusive sale here.

Under the hood is a 3.0l SOHC V6 (as in the Maxima and 300ZX) producing 162hp and 180lb-ft of torque, in all cases mated to a JATCO 4-speed automatic unit.  Coupled with the Coupe’s 3300lb weight it was generally considered heavy and underpowered, the convertible’s additional 275lbs didn’t help that whatsoever.  So let’s just call it a RWD boulevard cruiser (instead of the drifter or carver du jour), which really is what it was meant to be…power isn’t everything, although the Leopard was certainly available with the DOHC version of this engine which would have helped that criticism tremedously.

The intake plenum has the Infiniti logo on it which is what defines this as a 1992 model, prior years still carried the Nissan name on there which seems like another somewhat shocking oversight.  I find the logo itself to be one of the more attractive and evocative automotive logos devised and one that still looks modern and appropriate today.

The interior, however, while certainly sumptuous to some degree (mainly the seats), was definitely at odds with the Q45 and its organic shapes inside and out on the other side of the showroom.  The rectilinear forms in here, while absolutely a carryover from the older Leopard donor, just didn’t do itself any favors.  It’s not poor quality or badly designed, it just didn’t mesh at all with the rest of the Infiniti image.  Looking at it now, however, I quite like it, but then again, I’m the guy that loves the square interior of the 1986 Cressida.  Your opinion may very well differ.

Still, the wheel looks good and beefy, there’s an airbag (for the driver) and the gathered leather/vinyl/whatever on the door panels probably looked pretty good when it was still brand new.  The door locks at the leading edge of the doors are somewhat novel as well.

177,428 miles is nothing for a Nissan V6, so who knows what happened, perhaps emissions, more likely the JATCO box.

Beer stickers on the rear bumper in my opinion point to a younger driver with perhaps less mechanical sympathy than desirable.  The ’90’s were a time when we spoilered all the things and the M30 didn’t get away without one either in this case.

It’s almost as if Infiniti never intended for this car to be sold here, and of course it was supplemented by both the G20 for 1991 (itself a Nissan Primera, in G20 form one of the best compact sedans ever) and and indirectly replaced by the J30 for 1993, which while more in the mold of the Q45 and also a 4-door sedan, itself was an acquired taste that unfortunately veered more to the polarizing side.

Still, I suppose a luxury convertible was a potentially interesting choice seeing as how Lexus and Acura didn’t have one, although the svelte and lithe first generation Legend Coupe should have moved Nissan to bring us something or anything else rather than the M30, whose shellacking in the market was fairly predictable.  I wonder if that’s the reason the convertible wasn’t available until the second year, perhaps it was an emergency program once the first sales results came in.

Even this ad doesn’t do it any favors, it doesn’t say much about the car and it doesn’t make you really want to go out and get one.  It’s no wonder they didn’t sell very many, although the $8,200 upcharge for the convertible option on top of the around $24,000 price for the coupe was just as much to blame.  Apparently there were no factory options available to further inflate that though, the cars were “fully equipped”.

The M30 is a forgotten player nowadays although it’s probably a fair question to ask how one forgets something they never knew in the first place.  I wonder how long it will be until I see another.

Related Reading:

William Stopford’s Curbside Classic on the 1990-1992 M30

Jeff Nelson’s Curbside Classic on the 1992 M30