Home » Two-Door Tuesday, Short Week Edition: 1993 Infiniti M30 vs 1990 Ford Bronco II

Two-Door Tuesday, Short Week Edition: 1993 Infiniti M30 vs 1990 Ford Bronco II

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Welcome back, Autopians! I hope everyone had a good three-day weekend. It’s time to get back to the grind, but I’ve got some cool pieces of junk to show you to ease you back into things. First, let’s see how Friday’s tow rigs finished up:

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Yep. And I’m inclinded to agree. Despite the difficulty finding parts that some commenters pointed out, the Ambassador is just a nicer and more stylish way to travel.

Oh well. Let’s get back to stuff I could actually afford, if I were so inclined. Today we have a selection from the Underappreciated Survivors group on Facebook, and another suggestion from our buddy S.W. Gossin. One is a relatively unknown Japanese classic with an American twist, and the other is a shrunken version of a classic 4×4. Here they are.

1993 Infiniti M30 convertible – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.0 liter V6, 4 speed automatic, RWD

Location: Franklin, TN

Odometer reading: 198,000 miles

Runs/drives? Great, according to the seller

If’ you’ve never seen one of these, or haven’t thought about them in a couple decades, I won’t be surprised. The M30 was imported to the US to fill space alongside the flagship Q45 sedan at Infiniti dealerships when Nissan’s upscale brand was just starting out. This car was known as the Nissan Leopard in Japan, but the home market never got the convertible version. Like so many other cars, M30 convertibles started out as coupes, and had their roofs removed by the American Sunroof Company in Long Beach, California.

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The M30 is powered by Nissan’s VG30E V6 engine, here in a longitudinal arrangement driving the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic, the only transmission available. In the early years, the only way to get a manual gearbox with an Infiniti badge was in the Nissan Primera-based G20 sedan. This is no sports car; it’s too heavy and sluggish to carve corners, but it makes quite a nice top-down cruiser.

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And you’ll want to keep the top down, because the top is in terrible shape, from the looks of it. The interior isn’t a whole lot better; judging by the condition of the upholstery, I can only conclude that the previous owner of this car ran a wolverine rescue and transported the beasties in the back seat. The front seats may be just as bad, but they’re hidden under seat covers, so we have no way of knowing. At least the outside looks all right, give or take a paint blemish or two.

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Despite its cosmetic shortcomings, the seller says this car runs and drives well, and has new tires and a new battery, so you should have no trouble driving it to the upholstery shop.

1990 Ford Bronco II – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.9 liter V6, 5 speed manual, part-time 4WD

Location: Marshallberg Township, NC

Odometer reading: ad says 99999, which means they couldn’t be bothered to tell us

Runs/drives? Nope, sorry

If there is a class of vehicle that defines the changes in the American automotive landscape throughout the 1980s, it’s the compact SUV. They were everywhere: S10 Blazers, Monteros, 4Runners, Samurais, Cherokees, and of course Bronco IIs. Ford’s entry into this red-hot market was a stubby Ranger-based two door with handsome styling and stout mechanicals, troubled by reports of easy roll-overs (and I can confirm that; an ex-girlfriend of mine had one that she rolled), but fun to drive nonetheless.

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The Bronco II was available only with Ford’s “Cologne” V6 (and briefly a Mitsubishi turbodiesel that nobody bought) in either 2.8 or 2.9 liter displacements depending on the year. As a last-year Bronco II, just before it was replaced by the Explorer, this one has a 2.9 liter fuel-injected engine, coupled to a Mazda-made 5 speed manual and a dual-range transfer case, powering a solid rear axle and, when needed, Ford’s “Twin Traction Beam” swing-arm front axle.

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Unfortunately, the seller says that this Bronco doesn’t run, but no further details are given. Cologne V6s are fairly simple and durable engines, and plentiful in junkyards still, so getting it going again shouldn’t be too hard. $2,500 sounds steep for a non-running Bronco II, but the rising popularity of ’80s and ’90s SUVs has also affected the original “Baby Bronco,” and this would probably be a $5,000 truck if it were running.

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I do wish we had some interior photos. This little truck looks pretty good from the outside, apart from the bumpers (what’s up with that?), but we have no idea how it looks inside, or under the hood. Call for details, I guess.

Well, there they are. You can choose to fix up an obscure Japanese cruiser, or revive a rough-and-tumble mini 4×4. Either way, you’ve got some work to do. Which will it be?

 

Quiz maker

(Image credits: Infiniti – Facebook seller, Bronco – Craigslist seller)

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28 Responses

  1. My Uncle brought his ‘New’ Bronco II by to show it off to my family. It was awesome . 5 speed 4×4, red inside and out. It was sadly a Florida hurricane vehicle that he purchased at a dealership in Michigan that rusted from the inside out within the year. It was the coolest thing for a few months. It will always be the perfect example of unrequited automotive love to me.

  2. A non-running vehicle needs to have some real potential to be great to get me to take it over the running one.

    The Bronco II is not that kind of vehicle.

    1. At least in my area Bronco II’s have never been common. I still see S-10’s cockroaching around regularly. I wonder if it has to do with the rollover thing – I remember watching some old Youtube video where they talked about how GM compensated for the higher center of gravity – Ford didn’t.

      Lots and lots of old Explorers though.

  3. The Broncos bumpers look like that due to using a body lift instead of a suspension lift. God knows what other questionable decisions were made with this thing

  4. Slightly off-topic, but this Bronco II’s two-tone paint scheme is exactly what Ford should have chosen for the Bronco Sport Heritage Edition, instead of just mimicking (and oddly so) the Bronco’s beautiful Heritage ’60s look.

    (I’m going Infiniti as knew a girl in school who had one of these and the description here is spot on – not a sportscar but fairly close to the Platonic ideal to which cars like the Chrysler Sebring aspire)

  5. I’d rather keep my money and go buy a nice guitar than deal with either of these….but I went Bronco because it’s manual and once it’s fixed up there will be a decent market for it. I’m as much of a sucker for a good ole luxobarge as anyone but I’d rather spend more money and get a 90s Mercedes SL or a Jaaaaaaaag.

    Yeah they’ll be nightmares to keep running….but also V8s, or even V12s if you’re a masochist. Plus they’d be firmly relegated to weekend duty so it’s not like I’d put more than maybe 2-3k on them every year. I just don’t see the appeal of this particular Infiniti, or most Infinitis if we’re being honest. I DO see the appeal of a beater Bronco. Plus I’m sure I could convince Tracey to help me figure it out….

  6. Got to go with the M30: even a crappy convertible is a ton of fun. Plus, they share a lot mechanically with the 87-88 V6 200SX, so I already have spare parts and a good knowledge of most of the systems.

  7. I’m not really a “blue oval” guy and I’m definitely not a fan of ads that are missing vital information. If you’re that lazy when it comes to listing your car for sale, how many shortcuts did you take on maintenance or repairs (if any)?

    But…that Infiniti looks wartier than someone in a toad kissing contest. Those Nissan auto boxes were meh on durability and I can see little whammies all around this example, some repaired poorly, if at all. I’m going to take a wild guess that the top on that Infiniti is probably in average to marginal shape. And unless there’s a horror show of rust lurking low, this Bronco II looks pretty damn clean on the exterior.

    So, this feels odd, but Ford.

    1. Sorry, “Three Kings”…

      Conrad Vig : One gold Rolex would get me a very nice split-level house outside of Garland.
      Troy Barlow : Five Rolexes would get my family that Lexus convertible.
      Chief Elgin : I told you, Lexus doesn’t make a convertible.
      Troy Barlow : Yes they do, it has room in the back for a kid’s seat.
      Chief Elgin : Infiniti has a convertible but not Lexus.
      Troy Barlow : Wrong.
      Chief Elgin : Either way, the Good Lord has put this map in our path and I believe we’re gonna find something.
      Troy Barlow : Yeah, he could also put a land mine in our path if we go out there.

  8. I went with the convertible. Better running than not. That being said, both cars seem to be suffering from price inflation.
    Remember when beaters were $500?
    Pepperidge Farm remembers.

  9. Infiniti for me. I bet the JDM crowd would pay far more for it if it wore Nissan Leopard badges and was RHD, especially as it share the same platform as an R31 Skyline.

  10. I went with the Bronco II. The body looks sound and parts availability for the old Ford should make it easy to get going again. As for the Infiniti, whipping that old convertible back into shape is an expensive proposition. The top itself is likely reasonable. But I guarantee all the rotted out seals and weatherstripping will either be unobtainable or expensive. Restoring an old convertible top is a labor of love and rarely makes financial sense.

    1. I had a friend whose parents bought him a Bronco II. How we *didn’t* ever roll given his insane teenage driving, I chalk up to one of the luckier things of my life.

  11. I had one years ago.

    I swear, everyone who has owned a Bronco II either knows someone who rolled one over or rolled theirs. Kid in my high school rolled his over making a left at a protected turn light. Should also note that the high sides and narrow wheelbase also makes it exciting in high wind too. I almost got blown off the (Baltimore) Key Bridge more than a few times.

  12. I work in the sun daily, so I’m not looking for a drop top. And, if I were, it would be on the Miata end of the portly-to-power scale, not a cruiser (unless classic iron), so had to go fer the Ferd.

    If it were near me, I’d check it out on the off chance that knowing where the rollover fuel-cutoff switch is might net me a cheapish manual 4wd beater for minimal fixing effort. If the no-run is spark related, I don’t want any part of it: iirc, the distributor is at the rear with very minimal room to do anything. I mean, I’ve had a lot more experience wrenching in the last 20 years, so it wouldn’t be near as much of an ordeal, but, I’ve also lost a LOT of patience for stupid chit over those same years, so it’s likely a wash aggravation-wise.

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  13. Without knowing what is wrong mechanically, I’d assume spending double the price of the Bronco to get it going. I also see visible rust that leads me to wonder what rust I’m not seeing. I think the running shitbox wins.

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