The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 July 2006

A thirty-thousand-dollar child

Gwendolyn (you met her here) is my first-ever Infiniti, and while there's plenty of data, some of it actually verifiable, floating around on the Net, she is, after all, six years old, more than a generation in automotive terms, and I decided I'd like to find some data from the time she was born, just for historical perspective.

By way of eBay, I snagged the October 1999 issue of Car and Driver, which I'd read as a subscription copy when it was new and subsequently sent to the shredder. The issue contains a one-page "minitest" of the 2000 I30 and a six-page ad by Infiniti to promote the car. The ad, of course, is just this side of hilarious:

If you were designing a new luxury car, how would you make it stand apart from the crowd? Would you give it the most powerful V6 engine in its class? Would you create the most spacious cabin in its class? Maybe you'd offer luxury touches and a level of ingenuity that you couldn't find anywhere else. Surely, laying claim to any one of these achievements would set you apart from today's crowd of luxury automobiles. Imagine how special you'd be if you could claim all of them.

As noted, I don't call her Shirley. The Infiniti tag from those days — "Own one and you'll understand" — is reminiscent of the old Packard boast "Ask the man who owns one," but not particularly precise; whatever you might think of Mazda's "Zoom Zoom" business, at least you knew what they were selling you.

The C/D testers gave the car a mixed review "in its class": "When considered against its competitors, the I30 has a fine combination of style, luxury, and adequate performance." Of course, these guys are hotshoes by trade — 8.3 seconds from zero to sixty seems like an eternity to them — and they seemed disappointed that the 2000 version, wholly new, didn't represent a quantum leap in performance over the previous generation. (They got seven seconds out of a Maxima with the same engine, but it had a stick shift.) And they complained about the forest of petroboard:

The faux wood panels on the doors bend and curve in a way that's implausible for real wood to bend, clearly revealing their unnatural origins.

I turned back to the ad, and the interior shot revealed the Awful Truth: the previous owner had actually ordered extra fake wood. In the photo, synthoplanking appears only on the doors and the console; Gwendolyn's wearing the stuff all the way up to her air vents.

I will not allow myself to be perturbed by this; I learned, many years before, that you never, ever tell a woman she's wearing too much makeup, unless you're convinced she's doing Kabuki on the side. (What happens, of course, is that she leaves it all off one day, and you look at her stupidly and say "What did you do to yourself?") Besides, there's a road to watch.

Posted at 12:01 PM to Driver's Seat

"And don't call me Shirley."

Posted by: Vickie at 6:56 AM on 9 July 2006