When Nissan built a Mercedes S-Class fighter.
The Nissan President was never sold outside of Japan during its entire 45-year production run. The Nissan Maxima was and still is the largest and most premium sedan the Japanese automaker offers in the US, outside of its Infiniti luxury brand. In fact, the early 90s era Infiniti Q45 was essentially a shorter wheelbase version of the second-generation President. The sole purpose of the Infiniti brand was to compete with Toyota's Lexus and Honda's Acura luxury divisions and, of course, Mercedes-Benz.
The Germans didn't take Japanese automakers very seriously for several decades but Asian brands closely studied what their European rivals were up to. Their goal wasn't to copy but to perfect them. Honda did the same to Ferrari and Lamborghini with the original NSX. And we know how that turned out.
Not only did Lexus debut the first-generation LS at the legendary 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, but Nissan also pulled the sheets off its all-new President. The LS proved to be the more attractive of the two, but the President was still an excellent large luxury sedan. Power came from a naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V8 rated at 278 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque. The Q45 shared this engine and the four-speed automatic transmission. There was no all-wheel drive option, therefore rear-wheel-drive was standard. Front-wheel-drive luxury sedans didn't exist yet.
The President came standard with an extensive list of features like Connolly leather seats and several tech and safety advancements, one being a rear passenger airbag. Japanese luxury sedan buyers suddenly had some very attractive domestic choices instead of an S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Audi A8.
The President, like the also Japan-only Toyota Century and Celsior, offered lots of luxury and better reliability for less money. The Germans took notice. Finding an early 90s Infiniti Q45 in good shape probably isn't easy, but why bother when there's this 1994 Nissan President for sale at JDM Sport Classics in Michigan. This short-wheelbase example has only 45,000 verified miles and is fully loaded with things like cruise control, power doors, locks, and mirrors, digital climate control, a reclining headrest, electric seats, and even the original wheels and hood ornament.
Priced at just $10,900, this thing is more than just a right-hand-drive Q45. It's classier and a shining example of how the Japanese aimed to beat the Germans at their own game.