Today is the second regular issue of my new and much anticipated 2015 weekly feature : Forgotten Classics.
As demonstrated in the Christmas Special issue and on the first 2015 issue, the goal of this series of essays will be to bring cars that are getting no love back in the limelight. FC is also a thorough analysis of why such cars remained obscure and never got the praise they deserved.
This week's Forgotten Classic is the rebadged Nissan Beauty Leopard Y32, also known as the Infiniti J30 in the country-continent of America.
Introduced in 1992 as a 1993 model, the J30 was meant to compete against the other Japanese Luxury wannabes, namely the Lexus ES, the Acura Legend, the Mazda 929 and that big Mitsubishi there. However, unlike the competition, Nissan didn't half-assed things. The J30 was a proper RWD sedan with a styling that even inspired the guy that designed the Bugatti EB218, and much later, the the guy that designed Porsche Panameria.
Featuring a droopy rear end and a sloped rear window, the guy that designed the J30 had accidentally created a whole new category of cars, the 4 doors coupe !
On the mechanical side, the J30 was powered by a 300ZX engine producing 210HP, which was a lot at that time. There was also a touring model (j30t) that added a rear spoile, nicer wheels and a 4 directional wheels like on the Prelude, impressive.
Among other features, retractable antenna, powered sunroof that could either slide in on lift and remote lock with a panic button. 1994 models and later came standard with heated front seats.
Inside, it was all leather and wood and nice carpeting. Integrated analog watch, premium sound system and whatnot.
Production and sales figures are confidential, but I think it's safe to say that the J30 didn't sell well. Just like VHS vs BETA, the Lexus ES became the undeserving winner of the category, while the J30 was quietly phased out in 1997 and replaced with a glorified Maxima, the sleep inducing I30.
So, another great car that failed miserably, what is the root cause behind this debacle ?
The answer is Avant-Garde.
4 door coupes were a not a thing back then, and people didn't care about having the proper wheels sending the power to pavement, and this is what caused its failure. A combination of RWD and being ahead of its time. People are reluctant to change and are fearing things that are ahead of the game.