Wandering Leopard in France 2018

It is always hard to do things and make sure it intersects with F31club in some shape, way or form. This was going to be my first time in Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Iwan who owns an M30 convertible (and all around Nissan guy) lives in the Netherlands and we planned to meet up before I went to Amsterdam. I didn’t make it to Amsterdam and so the significance of making this trip intersect with F31s didn’t go 100%.

I also wanted to imagine how an F31 would be in Paris. If I lived in Paris and I had my M30… I would be taking pictures in front of these iconic spots. The Japanese brothers pay tribute to Abunai Deka by taking pictures of their Leopards and M30s in iconic spots from the show.

I thought about how I could do this and I remember people taking pictures of their stuff animals at cool spots during a vacation or traveling (just google stuffed animals travel the world). I figured if they can do that with a stuffed animal, why not with a toy car? My biggest scale leopard is 1/43. I decided to go with the Zenki Gold Leopard because it is a famous color.

Focusing proved to be difficult as my phone couldn’t always find a balance between a small scale car and real size background. While some shots were cool, others were either blurred between near or far field. My goal was to have the car look natural and realistic. Some pictures are meant to be weird and abstract.

I know it can be photoshopped, but I wanted to have authenticity to some degree. Leopard spotted in these locations:

  • Hotel De Ville
  • Seine (along the river)
  • The Louvre
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Notre Dame de Paris
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Avenue des Champs-Elysees
  • Palace of Versailles
  • Sacre Coeur
  • Pantheon
  • Pont Alexandre III bridge
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Trocadero
  • Pont Neuf

Let’s begin! Paris can be overwhelming, there is too much to see and do! Everything looks amazing. My interests are always the architecture, street art, history, historical art, city skylines, lights (Paris is the city of lights), food, experiences, public transportation, cars (no tuned car seen, but Peugeot, Reanault, Dacia, Citroen, SEAT)… pretty much Paris was eye candy.

First night, we stayed in the 4th arrondissement of Paris (arrondissements are subdivided municipalities within Paris, total of 20).

After some authentic French food and crepe, we walked around Rue de Rivoli and came upon Tour Saint-Jacques.

(The tower is what is left of a 16th century Church that was destroyed in the French Revolution. Gothic design!)

I tried to take a picture of the Leopard, that is when I realized it wasn’t gonna be as easy as I thought.

Just a couple blocks away is Hotel de Ville. It is actually City Hall of Paris. Very gorgeous at night!

 

 

 

While it was a chilly night, it was beautiful and so we decided to walk around along the Seine (an important river and waterway within Paris).

The Seine offered a gorgeous backdrop with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. We headed towards that direction.

 

The Louvre is famous for a reason. If you are into museums, the Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. It is massive and houses so much history. I went here multiple times on this trip, but during our first night, I enjoyed it from the outside due to the Pyrimads in the Cour Napoléon.

 

I can’t explain the inside, there is just way too much to see and they say that even a week isn’t enough to see everything in the Louvre. So I focused on seeing Greco-Roman art and sculptures, paintings of Christianity, Islamic art and of course the famous stuff. Mona Lisa and Winged Victory of Samothrace or Winged Nike to be precise.

It is me being silly.

Mona Lisa is surrounded like no other. People are taking selfies and will stay at the front for a long time. I didn’t need to be directly in front, but I wanted to see it with my own eyes and I pulled the leopard out and snapped a shot.

 

Winged Victory of Samothrace or Winged Nike is a sculpture that is celebrated all over the world. It is a sculpture of the Greek goddess of Victory, Nike! (I love mythology). Another cool and interesting thing about Winged Nike is that this is a Hellenistic marble statue and one of the few remaining Hellenistic statues around. Many are Roman copies.


What is Paris without the Eiffel Tower? It is one of the most famous, visited landmarks and recognized all around the world!

It is a great place to visit and its beauty is majestic. Pictures can’t capture its essence. I actually felt these pictures did a great job of making the leopard look realistic.


Notre Dame de Paris a famous cathedral. The stories of the Hunchback of Notre Dame helped bring notice to its deteriorating condition and so it was restored. Finest French Gothic design and like many old cathedrals, stained glass and even gargoyles on top!


Arc de Triomphe is also one of those famous spots. While it is touristy (tons of people), it is also an amazing building, piece of art and historic significance. It is massive and going to the top is well worth it. The circle around it is also famous in many movies.

The Arc de Triomphe is at the end of Champ-Elysees. The famous avenue.

 


Avenue des Champs-élysées is that famous and busy avenue in Paris. This is the spot where some people go cruising. Mostly know for shopping because all the major brands are on this street.

 


Palace of Versailles is a good 45 minute train ride outside of Paris. It’s huge, well, it is a Royal Palace. The gardens however, were just as awesome and free.


The Pantheon (in Paris) was a church, but is now a mausoleum (tomb) for prominent French citizens. Very neoclassicism styled structure obviously modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. This is an amazing place if you are into Philosophy as some enlightenment thinkers are buried here.


A famous Roman Catholic cathedral in Paris is Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartreor simply Sacre-Coeur. While I did grow up Roman Catholic, I am not practicing. I go to religious buildings, temples, shrines to learn the history and art. I also go to these places being respectful of the people, culture and environment.

 


There are 37 bridges in Paris. They all offer great views and photo ops.

One of the most ornate and decorated bridges is Pont Alexander III.


Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the biggest and well knowing open spots in Paris. It is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.


River Seine from Pont Marie, another bridge that crosses.


Trocadero is one of those spots that you can take a great picture of the Eiffel Tower when there is no crowds (early morning or late night).


Pont Neuf is the oldest of the bridges that crosses the Seine. This part of Pont Neuf is the location for “love locks”.


This last picture was totally unexpected. I visited Renault’s shop/restaurant to check out their Lego F1 racer. Upon going inside, I there was Infinit logos everywhere! There were life size legos people and both had Infiniti logo on their shirts.

 

Made sense!

 

Abunai Deka antenna

When I was visiting some of the leopard websites, I would often see them with these really big antennas. I didn’t understand it until Simasima explained it to me.

See, in 2005, many of us didn’t know about Abunai Deka until we came across pictures. This was before there were short clips on Youtube.

Simasima explained this is one of the ways that Leopard owners pay tribute to Abunai Deka. So paying tribute to Abunai Deka wasn’t about a flashy car. Abunai Deka’s Leopard was a stock POLICE CAR.

One of the ways they pay tribute is by putting on this antenna and having a CB radio in the car.

 

 

Infiniti M30 ads

 

 

As I was rebuilding the forums, I came across a ton of old ads (150 so far) from when the M30 was being offered. Many advertising the sales, but also many small articles about the release of the M30, some of the critics of the M30 and those weird Infiniti commercials and of the convertible.

Yes, this isn’t as cool as swaps and drifting. This is also about the history of the Infiniti M30. F31club isn’t just swaps and drifting. While those are included, I’ve always been on side missions trying to uncover historic items and articles not just about the Infiniti M30, but also the Nissan Leopard.

Here are a few samples:

 

 

 

I’ve posted just a few on IG, but the articles are more of teasers.

Supporting Carshop Friend

In the early 2000s, a few Japanese companies set up shop in America. Veilside, Bomex, Mint Blue, etc… Before the end of 2009, many of them have close up shop or have moved back to Japan.

Couple of reasons why, but one of them is very little support. JDM kits were expensive, but Quality was there (from my experience with Bomex, Veilside, C West and Shine Street). There were also some pretty good American companies too such as Wings West, Xenon and Erebuni… Then came the companies that made good and bad stuff, but also knock off of many of these kits for cheaper… Aerogear and Xtreme Dimension.

Anyways, You can put it together. The masses wanted the cheap knock off stuff.


What does this have to do with F31club? Well, in 2005, it was no secret that people didn’t want to pay JDM prices. I firmly believe that this is why smaller companies such as Carshop Friend didn’t want to work with international buyers. We contacted the shop and said we would like to buy a couple front lips. This was also at the height of people making copies of lips and kits. If one of the lips would have reached stateside, Someone would have made Carshop Friend lips. In fact, RaceonUSA came on F31club and was offering to make copies of Piko Racing side skirts.


Recently it was brought up on FB that one of us should make copies of the front lips we have. Now, I’ll say this. I bought my front lip from Carshop Friend DIRECTLY. I RESPECT his shop and after 12 years of chasing Carshop Friend to be a customer, I am now one of them. I didn’t ask Mr. Kanazawa for a discount or special price. I paid the $400 he asked because I believe in his shop. I want to support his business as him being the only Leopard specific shop.

I wasn’t trying to blow off the M30 guys, but I don’t think some of them get it. It is different compared to 2005/6. We have direct communications with Carshop Friend. We also have direct communication to people who are customers of Carshop Friend. It is why when people ask those Carshop Friend customers on social media (FB, Twitter or IG) for parts or items, they say, “contact Carshop Friend directly”.

Do you know why they say that? Carshop Friend’s business model is catered to Leopard owners, but also catered to how Carshop Friend wants to be viewed as a Leopard shop. There’s a reason why he doesn’t blindly sell things on YAJ all the time. He wants Carshop Friend to be presented PROPERLY. Carshop Friend isn’t a tuning shop for Drift, Shakotan or Bosozoku cars. There’s no massive FMIC or RB26DETT swaps everywhere at their shop. It is about Leopards in the purest form.

Just look at my pictures:

31st Anniversary Leopard meeting 2017 – hosted by Carshop Friend

Nostalgic 2 Days 2017 – Carshop Friend booth

Another Lesson

When I joined the FB page, I didn’t realize some of the stuff Kuze-san posted was recent. He posted a magazine with Leopards featuring Infiniti and Leopard Owner’s club. My ignorance, I asked him if he could scan it so I can put it on F31club. I think it might have offended him as he said I could buy it on Amazon.JP. I didn’t realize it was a brand new magazine. So I felt bad. It was a lesson learned. Anything that is new or can still be bought, I decided to purchase. Again, this supports the magazines, the photographers and companies invest to come up with something good to enjoy.

THESE ARE ACTUALLY PRINTED MATERIAL TOO!


Support

When I finally went to Carshop Friend and I saw first hand what Mr. Kanazawa had accomplished as a business, I realized I wanted to support his business. He was paying Nissan’s patents for using the Leopard logo and that also made him officially part of Nissan as everything he makes is LICENSED!

When the guys on FB asked about the making copies of the front lip, I have to explain that it is an active part and Carshop Friend offers it. It isn’t me being selfish, it’s me helping and supporting Carshop Friend. I tried for 12 years to be part of Carshop Friend and now I am.

Supporting Carshop Friend does have its advantages as well. That is something that one must build and define on their own.

BMW Marketing Training handbook

We’ve always compared the Infiniti M30 to Lexus and Acura counterparts back in the early 90s, but I’ve never thought about the european competition. I’ve never even thought about how other car companies thought about each other. I present to you the BMW Marketing Training Handbook, “Perception Vs. Reality”.

So this handbook for BMW’s salesman and personnel offers a brief introduction on what was at the time, “new” Lexus, and Infiniti brand. Lexus and Infiniti at the time only offered 2 models…. Lexus with the LS400 and SC300/400, and Infiniti with the Q45 and M30.

I believe at the time of this handbook, BMW was trying to push their 750iL and 535i models.

There were some harsh thoughts from AutoWeek in here that states: “M30 is a Nissan. Worse, it is not even the new-generation Nissan personified in the 300ZX, Maxima, and 240SX. It is a holdover from the early 1980s when Nissans were competent, boring and boxy.”

The handbook goes on: “Like their counterparts at Lexus, the designers at Infiniti had imitation as the driving force behind their “creativity”.

Of course it is biased, as the handbook was made for their salesman and marketers to believe “BMW does not follow trends. We create them”. It offers pointers and advice to convince the consumer that their product is better than the competition and that they are the product leader.

There will always be a balance in life, even in our F31 world. We love our car dearly, but there was once a time when there was also a counter for the appreciation. It is an interesting perspective, and part of the M30 history here in America.

As you look thru the scans, what are your thoughts?

 

 

-Mark J

What came with the Original M30?

*Disclaimer – This is an “in hindsight, hypothetical, and retrospective” viewpoint of what it would have been like to buy an M30 from 1990. It is not definitive and we are just piecing the past like a puzzle.

Mark and I always talked about what it would have been like to go to a freshly debuted Infiniti dealership in 1990. Seeing only Q45s and M30s. What was the atmosphere? How were the salesmen’s enthusiasm to try and get you to purchase an one of the models?

Walking in the front door and seeing brochures on a stand free to grab. Going by the parts department and seeing optional parts on display or on a shelf to purchase.

Walking out in the parking lot and comparing the Q45 and M30. Looking at the color combinations and comparing price.

After buying your M30, you would be congratulated. Take pictures shaking the salesman’s hand and maybe even take a picture with your new car for a calendar.


While the Q45 was the model that Infiniti promoted heavily, Infiniti still had to make sales off the M30 and promote the technology that was offered.

Promotional items were probably available to help with sales for both models (example to highlight the Bose system).


I don’t know anyone who has bought an M30 brand new, from an Infiniti dealership, between 1990 to 1992. On the opposite end, The Japanese Leopard owners were on it and the Leopard had an immediate following and aftermarket.

For Americans, I personally feel the first enthusiasts were the ones that bought the M30s. Many of them kept the cars in good condition and took care of them. Many of those first generation owners seemed to also really enjoy the M30 convertible particularly. They were not enthusiasts to the point of being die hard, but they cared enough to take car of them.

For car tuning, Japan was always on top. Since the M30 didn’t come with many options, it didn’t catch attention of tuners unless you were really paying attention or knew of the car. Many of us didn’t catch onto the M30 til around 2002/3. Most of that was sparked because of the F31s that were featured in Option and Drift Tengoku.


Since none of us are the original owners and often times M30s have been changed many hands, paperwork and items usually get lost. Items that people didn’t find important or of significance then, is the subject of mystery and intrigue now. This is always the case and many items continue on to the next owner.

I’ve been piecing together what items might have been offered when you first bought your M30 from Infiniti dealership. The items below are definitive to have come from Infiniti, but that is not to say these are all the items.

  • Promotional items. M30s did not get the promotional support the Q45 did. A couple of the brochures featured both models in a split or flip type fashion setup. One of them is the oversized M30: The Power of Nature is That  brochure.

Credit – S. Noguchi

 

Here is the promotional package. These folder held individual brochures for the M30, Q45 and G20.

 

Can’t forget the various brochures of the M30 that were available to grab for window shoppers.

 

To promote the Bose system, a cassette tape was also offered.

There was also a VHS tape offered introducing Infiniti as a brand.

 

 

And later for the M30 convertibles:

 

I am the 3rd owner of my current M30. The previous owners did a great job on keeping information and maintenance records documented. I was given a lot of documents in which I have never had before.

  •  Leather glove box folder. All M30s came with this folder in the glove department. Many M30s have been through many different hands that some of these have been lost.

 

3 fold sections

 

 

Top section. Note pad, business card slots and Infiniti Pen. The pen might have changed depending on dealership.

Notepad and pen. It appears that the pen can be different depending of dealership the M30 was purchased.

The right side of the top section holds the business cards.

 

Middle section holds the Owner’s manual

 

Bottom has Infiniti Warranty information and Maintenance log

 

Most of the maint. logs have been used.


 

When you picked up your M30, the passenger side vent was mint condition. QA engineer with the verification.

 

For the M30 convertible.


Here is a Service Reference Notes. Usually, these are filled out and posted on the car.


This might not be a big deal, but I guess this came with the M30, so people know about shift lock.


 

Here is a kind of a mini brochure. Introducing the Infiniti brand.

 

This piece that is inside the brochure is an invitation to test drive an Infiniti.


 

Infiniti Dealership directory. This had the addresses of every Original Infiniti dealership.


 

Total Ownership Experience. This was one of Infiniti’s selling points. All about your experience at the dealership and owning an M30 or Q45.

 

The permanent Total Ownership Experience ID card came on this.


The owner of this M30 was sent a letter personally thanking them for buying an M30 and telling them about the Total Ownership Experience.

 


Here is another letter introducing for Infiniti brand.

 

There is also a card that offers the video if you want to send it in.


 

Something that is starting to disappear is the window sticker.

 


One thing that I felt Infiniti did that was great was have the Factory service manual in every M30. They were in a hard dark gray case, but also it was compact.

When the convertibles came about, there was an additional manual specifically for the convertibles. This is actually a really good source and covers pretty much everything.

 

 


 

How to tow your Infiniti sheet. I got this sheet with my first M30 and even scanned it to F31club. The digital copy was lost in the hack and there are no pictures of it. *Sorry No picture

 


I have never seen this box. I do find it interesting because these 3 items are found to one box. I believe the folder is always in the glove box.


Surprises.

On that rare occasion, there will be that piece of paper under the carpet, behind the seat. It would be in Japanese and you don’t know what to think about it.

Hachiboy (Roger V) came upon this gem. Export label:

 

 

 

Garrett (XslidewayzX) found this after removing his seat:

 

 

Kue (F31pilot) also had this punch card. Satoshi-san said it is a vehicle identification punch card, QA card on trim level, vehicle’s data and such. Satoshi-san also believes this was suppose to be kept in the factory.

 

another:

 

This is NOT a definite COMPLETE list. The M30 is still a mystery and every so often an item pops up that makes us change our perspective and start theorizing about it.

As a quote from one of the Japanese owner’s clubs,

“Leopard, You always fascinate me”.

 

Leopards in Oceania 2018 update

Original post was here, Leopards in Oceania. It documented F31s of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. Some of the original owners of these rare cars have moved on. I was fortunate to reconnect with a few of them and even get updates.

I was able to reconnect with Are31 (Carl). Carl picked up Alex (Yotis)’s Leopard, then eventually sold it. During the time he was into Leopards, he saw a white Zenki F31 and took pictures of it. (This is documented in the article aforementioned).

I wouldn’t have reconnected with him if it wasn’t for Chris. S. Interestingly enough, Chris S. owns that white Zenki F31 that Carl took pictures of years ago. (I’ll get to that in a minute).

When I reconnected with Carl, I had tons of questions to ask. Most importantly, he gave me a gem of information. He told me how many Leopards were imported to Australia. The shop that he was going to was the source for this information. At that time, 11 Nissan Leopards were imported.


As an update, I was able to trace down the Leopard that Alex and Carl owned. It was only easy to spot because of the license plate. Many people didn’t know the history on the facebook M30 page, because many of them didn’t know Alex and Carl and that both had customized plates. Originally “L3pard” and then “MyF31”.

 

Currently James H. owns this Leopard. He said that it needs some fixing.

When Carl owned it in 2009

 

I honestly don’t how many hands it has passed through, but it eventually fell into James’ ownership.

Current as of 2016:


Going back to the White Zenki. Carl talked to the owner and told him about F31club. He never signed on. I was kinda surprised when I asked Chris about his Leopard and he talked about Carl and I asked him to connect me!

Chris picked up the White Zenki leopard. This was at some point a Carshop Friend customer’s car (at least I think it was based on a banner and bag CSF sells). Chris posted pictures of him taking out the engine and the front suspension. Since he is a Skyline person, he has extra Skyline parts that he swapped over.

In 2009

 

Current as of 2016:


In 2017, I connected with Brodie C. He has picked up 2 leopards!!! He saw my post on the Leopards and said he had picked up the Blue zenki with the missing rear glass (as seen in the Leopards in Oceania article). When I found the post and pictures of the Blue Zenki, it was going to be a drift car. They had stripped it, reinforced with more welds and swapped in an SR20DET. Suddenly the pictures end and there was talk of selling it. Then it disappeared until Brodie told me he had it. He said it was a full restoration, I had no idea!

hardtuned forums, 2013

 

Currently:

 

Additionally, he picked up a Kouki F31 Leopard. The previous owner was messaging me about information. He said the ECU smelt burnt. I was relaying info to his friend who was working on the car, Simon.

Then Brodie posted pictures and Simon confirmed that his friend had sold it.

Currently:

 


 

The last F31 leopard I had gotten information about was in New Zealand. Troy M. picked up an Kouki Leopard and was looking for parts. We talked briefly about some of the issues. I believe it is not running and he has in storage.


 

These are the current Leopards I have been able to document as of 2018. I thank Chris, Carl, Brodie and Troy for filling me in.

I know these leopard are in need of a parts, We should start to work towards that.

MrDatsunturbo

We had 2 people from Norway register. A person named Johnny and MrDatsturbo. Their pictures were lost and I was desperately looking for any sign of them online anywhere. I was able to find MrDatsunturbo pictures on a Norwegian Nissan forum, but I had to register to get in. Mike (from Poland) would register for me and ask about the M30. Mrdatsunturbo (Rune) contacted me and sent more pictures!

He is also a collector of Nissans and was contemplating selling the M30. But he decided to keep it.

He told me he knows of another M30 in Norway, but the condition is not that good.