Underappreciated 1993 Infiniti J30t Is Today's Bring a Trailer Pick

1993 infiniti j30t
1993 Infiniti J30t Is Today's Bring a Trailer PickBring a Trailer
  • Designed in California and built in Japan, the Infiniti J30's slinky looks and potent performance drew comparisons to classic Jaguars when it was new.

  • In 1993 and 1994, the J30t ("Touring") added Nissan's Super HICAS four-wheel steering and sportier suspension tuning to the standard 300ZX-sourced V-6 and rear-wheel drive.

  • The J30 was a slow seller, but its rarity and reliability make it a bargain classic today.

The Infiniti J30 has to be one of the most underrated cars of the 1990s. It didn't sell all that well, but it has all the ingredients of greatness. Its curvy looks have aged like fine wine; there's a 300ZX-sourced 210-hp V-6 under the hood driving the rear wheels; and it's just as ambitious as any Japanese luxury car designed at the height of the late 1980s "bubble era." And yet, you rarely see them at shows and they aren't worth very much. It deserves better.

This 1993 J30t for sale on Bring a Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos) is the ne plus ultra of J30s and underscores that bubble-era ambition. "T" stands for "Touring package," which in 1993–'94 added Nissan's Super HICAS four-wheel steering, a firmed-up suspension, a rear spoiler, and BBS-like alloy wheels.

1993 infiniti j30t side
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Thankfully, the deck spoiler doesn't detract from the J30's clean lines, because for all of its mechanical sophistication, it's style that defines this car. According to the late Jerry Hirshberg, chief designer at California's Nissan Design International (today Nissan Design America), the brief from Tokyo was "create a classic with instant heritage" to replace the hastily created, slow-selling M30 coupe. They did exactly that.

1993 infiniti j30t rear
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Hirshberg later said that Delahayes and Jags influenced the J30's lines, but it was an original shape that only suggested traditional luxury cues. Its lines, penned primarily by Doug Wilson, looked like nothing else in showrooms when it debuted in 1992, so perhaps Jaguar Mark II allusions were inevitable. It seemed a lot like the Mark 2 with rear-wheel drive, a big six sourced from a sports car, and of course that slinky styling.

1993 infiniti j30t interior
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Inside, the J30 was less radical but very luxurious, with power everything, a CD player, genuine wood trim and leather, and a Maserati-esque analog clock years before Lexus decided to add one of its own. It was fun to drive too, especially with the four-wheel steering, despite being tuned for luxury and lacking any manual transmission option. Its 210 horsepower was plenty in 1993, and the car compared well with its peers when new.

Unfortunately, it never sold as well as hoped, possibly because the design was too bold, but also because of other consequences of its curvy style and provisioning for the Super HICAS packaging: a smallish back seat and puny trunk. Infiniti sold just over 90,000 J30s here in total, with most coming in the first years. Super HICAS was dropped for 1995, the model was dropped in 1997.

1993 infiniti j30t engine
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In 1993, Nissan's first Altima arrived looking very similar, which probably didn't help, even though the Altima was entirely different mechanically. NDI had two studios, Blue and Red, and an open creative environment. The Altima's lead designer and Blue studio head, Allan Flowers, once explained that both cars branch from the same tree. "I did the design for the Altima, but Doug had done another idea everybody liked, which evolved into the Red Studio's J30."

It was worse in Japan, where the J30 was sold as the Nissan Leopard J. Ferie. It featured expensive options like custom seats by Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau, this just as the post-bubble recession destroyed the luxury market. Only 8000 J. Feries found homes there in six years.

"Both the Altima and the J30 designs bombed in Japan," Flowers said. They just didn't like jellybeans." With the bubble era over, and budgets and corporate appetites for creativity receding, very conservative designs replaced them. In America, Infiniti replaced it with the I30, a gussied-up Maxima with little of the J30's magic.

Despite their rarity, style, and performance, J30s rarely sell for more than $10,000, and most people don't know the Super HICAS version even exists. In 1992, Infiniti said that it expected the Touring version to make up 10 percent of J30 sales, making it as rare today as it is stylish.

This particular J30t has just 40,000 miles on the dial and has had a lot of recent service work, including a new timing belt. The car does have some flaws, including a sunroof that only opens in the tilt position and two dead key fobs, but they won't stop you from enjoying it. Despite the complexity of the Super HICAS system, J30s are generally very reliable, which makes them easy to live with as 30-year-old cars go.

This is one of the cleanest, lowest-mileage examples left, but it won't break the bank and might even appreciate over time.

This no-reserve auction ends on June 26.

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