This past summer I helped organized a group drive in the Nashville, Tennessee metropolitan area. We had everything from Ford Focus STs and BMW M3s to a Ford Galaxy 500 — and even the rare (and quite unreliable) Peugeot 505 S Turbo Diesel!
Everyone had a great time, but the high point of the trip was a tour of the Lane Motor Museum basement, and particularly, the "secret" stash of Nissan North America Heritage Collection cars held in a "secret" room behind a normal looking wooden wall. Here you will find Nissan Motor Company history, such as the first Nissan Hardbody pickup, the only North American right-hand-drive R35 GT-R and even John Morton’s famous BRE #46 Datsun 510 Trans-Am Race Car. It is a spectacular sight, but while making our way around the space, one detail caught my eye like none other.
Sitting side by side are the first, and last production Infiniti Q45 models. Production for the first-generation Q45 started in 1989 and continued through 1996. In that time, a lot was changed for the better. A rounded-off design modernized the vehicle, bringing up its initial lackluster looks, but, sadly, one element in particular was lost in that transition.
As I first looked over the original Q45, the Infiniti badge looked cracked. Even though the car was in immaculate condition, it was not particularly surprising as the car is nearly 30 years old, and plastic does degrade over age. As I got closer, though, I found it to be one of the most intricate and beautiful designs I have ever seen on any car.
Those cracks were not actually cracks. Instead, they were a gorgeous front insignia design consisting of rose vines encompassing the entirety of this Infiniti emblem. The silver vines contrast perfectly against the black background, and help the silver Infiniti badge stand out even more. It turns out this is called Cloisonné, an ancient technique for decorating metal. Ribbons of metal are soldered on their side, then paint is filled in between the wires and heated to finish. It’s very satisfying to see something normally just intended to help identify the brand ending up as one of the most detailed items on the vehicle.
Manufactures take pride in how they presented their cars — and in the old days, even this pride went even further than it does today. While the rest of the Q45 could have been designed a bit better, the badge showed Infiniti cared about the vehicle — and that this new luxury sedan meant a lot to their upstart luxury brand.
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