It is common to have an American version of a Japanese car and have JDM emblems put on. In 2005, I rode around with Nissan Leopard emblems. I do find the Leopard logo to be way more attractive than the Infiniti and plain “M30”.
In America, we often DEVALUE THE M30.
Yes, we don’t think much of the M30 and the VG30e. We often want to change it. There’s various and valid points for change too. We want a sports car, so manual transmission and a more powerful engine swap is common. We want to lower our M30s, but the easiest and accessible option is to go with Nissan 240sx (s13/s14) parts. Sometimes these changes are necessary to keep the car a live.
We want the Leopard stuff, because there was NOTHING for the M30.
Often times, I am guilty of this too, many people refer to the M30 as a Leopard.
In actuality, the M30 is its own F31.
Let me validate my argument. When I went to Japan, all the M30 owners did use leopard parts that crossed over, such as a front lip. Engine, emblems, everything else was OEM Infiniti.
I was kinda puzzled as WE (Americans) ALWAYS THOUGHT THE M30 WAS A PUT TOGETHER AND DOWNGRADED LEOPARD. We never gave the M30 credit.
But the pride I saw that the M30 owners in Japan had… I saw that with the Leopards too. People didn’t just put Ultima Leopard emblems on their cars. People are proud to say they had an XS or XJ. The are proud to have the VG20e… They are proud of the F31 they own.
This brought to my attention that we in America have generalized the Leopard. Since we did not know the differences, we just blindly say, F31 leopard without second thought. In Japan, they were broken down and treated as separate cars because of the differences.
To us Americans, we only want to hear the top of the line model, Ultima Turbo, and this is because it’s DOHC VG Turbo motor (But even that isn’t good enough as we want to swap to a different series of motor, such as the RB). We’ve completely ignored the lower trim levels.
That same mentality has kept the M30 at this level of “we need to upgrade it” rather than “it’s
good the way it is”.
The earlier years of F31club (2004), the younger crowd wanted to make the M30 this alternative car with potential for drifting and swaps, but we never took the time to enjoy it as is.
The mature crowd, mostly convertible M30 owners, were not concerned with swaps and drifting. They were in favor of taking care of the M30 and preserving it. Here I am 11 years later, fully understanding the mature mentality.
Before I went to Japan last October (2016), I visited Hawaii for a cardiology conference and training. I took this opportunity to visit Mark, Renny, Kenny and Denny. Mark, Renny and I went out to had dinner and during that time, we caught up. We talked M30 and f31club. The interesting thing was that we appreciated the M30 in general. Mark would be contemplating owning a completely stock M30 and after our conversation of appreciation.
Mark mentioned this:
…after you came back from Japan and shared your experiences, it only solidified my contemplation…. and it surfaced and eased the idea for all of us here in America that its okay to have a stock car stock M and be PROUD of it.
You see, my last few trips to Japan, there was this sense of pride and ownership that the Japanese have. I think this is something we in America often forget. Obviously the M30 is the novelty because it is LHD and uniquely different than their domestic Leopards. Their Leopards and M30s are SUPER CLEAN and well maintained. They asked me why people are swapping and why are M30s in such bad conditions. You have to understand, Leopards and especially M30s are highly prized there.
…with your travels, you have brought back the ideas and ownership pride of the Japanese.we can all learn from those who love and respect the car now have a renewed enthusiasm and motivation.…more importantly, our friendships have become stronger.– Mark
So my perspective has vastly changed. I’m still into tuning and like to see swaps and motor sports. But now, I appreciate the clean and stock M30 even moreso. In an age where the priorities of older cars are about lowering/swapping/rims before maintenance and fixing, seeing a clean/stock and mostly taken cared of car is not often seen.
When Satoshi-san met with Mark (strikevalk), I believe it was his first time meeting a Japanese owner. Satoshi-san is a leopard purist and has been working in Hawaii for the last few years. During this time, he owned an M30. He kept it in the best condition he could.
When Mark let Satoshi-san drive his SR20DET and manual swapped M30 convertible it was a few milestones for him. He said he never drove a manual M30, never drove a swapped M30 and never drove an M30 convertible. Mark has leopard emblems on his M30 convertibles as well.
Satoshi-san suggested to keep the convertible with the correct emblems because there was no official Leopard convertible.
The topic is very subjective and it is always based on our intentions with the M30. The take of having pride in the M30 shouldn’t be thought as a purists’ mentality. I feel taking pride and taking care of a car should be a sign of a true enthusiast.