Genesis G90

I feel like the Genesis brand gives me a taste of what it was it was like to see brands like Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura trumphiantly prosper out of otherwise more value-oriented automakers. I wasn’t alive then to see the birth of those of brands, but I am alive to see Genesis, the Hyundai spinoff.

The monolithic G90 is the flagship of the two car line-up. Disappointingly, theres little stylistic differentiation between it and the smaller G60. The G90 is, however, a handsome car both for its sheer size and restraint. It looks very chunky and substantial, a look created by the blunt nose and deliciously long and flat hood. It is very nondescript aside from the giant, drainage-grate grill. Nonetheless, there are some interesting touches on the exterior of the car, both good and bad. In particular, I found the taillights quite attractive but despised the flat piece of glossy plastic in the middle of the grill. Though neccesarry for the sensors used in driving aids, its like designers didn’t even try to hide it.

Fit and finish is excellent; trim is laser straight and the door shuts very fluidly and heavily in this age of thin metals and plastic. The interior is one of the most interesting of any car I have sat in. It is as big inside as the visual weight of the car is on the outside with a very wide center console. The console is probably one of the first things I noticed when climbing in the car, it is festooned with all kinds of shiny buttons and knobs along with a padded leather armrest. The second thing I noticed was the white analog clock; I love analog clocks in cars, especially luxury cars.  The dash was wide with nice, thick strips of wood and the speaker grills and gauges had a polished, metallic look to them. It all made it feel like a seriously high-end automobile, fortunate because it made up for some uncomfortable front seats. They not particularly soft and had an extremely intrusive headrest, one of those that jams your neck foreword out of a resting position. Bolsters, head rests, and back support was configurable, yet I could not find a pleasing combination. When I began to adjust the steering wheel tilt to my preference, it blocked the top part of the instrumentation; this really is a car for tall-statured individuals.

I looked around my shoulder into the sunshaded confines of  the rear seat, noticing it had its own button riddled console. Said console, trimmed in beautiful wood and stitched leather, had its own climate and seat controls. This car makes you feel like someone important; angle the seat back and stretch you legs far in front of you while viewing yourself in the lighted flip-down mirror.

Before parting ways with the massive Genesis, I appreciated one last element of its elegant restraint in the way it quietly mentioned its 5.0 liter V8 in subtle trunk-lid badging. This is a very grandiose car and an extremely impressive beginning to the Genesis name. I am not only well-impressioned by the lavish G90 itself, but am glad to have seen the birth of an exciting new luxury brand.


Infiniti Q45

The Infiniti Q45 went from suavely understated to staid and anonymous with the 1994 facelift. Before, it was easy to pick out the alien face of the Q45 among the trifecta of Japanese flagship luxury cars (Lexus LS, Acura Legend, and the Infiniti). It had two, wide oval lights and an Inifinit logo on the flat surface between them; it was an odd look for a car to not have the grill as the centerpieece of the design. This visual strangeness, along with the much criticised initial advertising, undoubtedly limited the success of the Inifiniti.

By 1994, the Infiniti had a grill in the traditional sense and revised, wraparound headlights. The conformist look also consisted of an upright, chrome waterfall grill barren of any defining insignia. It was extremely anonomyous and remains hardly distinguishable as an Infiniti to the uninformed. It looks like any generic Japanese full-size car of the time appearing much like the Mitsubishi Diamante. The restyling was unfortanate because, as you come around the back of the car, its smooth curves and well-done proportions come into focus. The stale, overly formal front end nearly overcomes the subtle lines and deatiling of the rest of the car.

The interior is a typical luxury car of the period, I believe the criticism citing sparten accomodations was unfounded. It felt spacious and looked resonably nice with an analog clock and warmly colored surfaces.  Yet it couldn’t help but date itself with the curved shape of the dash.

Even with strong performance from a 4.5 liter V8 and very forward-thinking engineering efforts, Nissan’s flagship never seemed to have gained the status of the LS400 and Legend. By now, it has faded completely into the background of used car lots. This daring attempt at striking success in that era of lavish luxury from Japanese automakers looks like its hideing shamefully behind an uptight, unsuspecting face.

1984 Chrysler Fifth Avenue

I have a soft spot for the Mopar M-bodies like this Chrysler Fifth Avenue; there’s something appealing in its stubborn traditionalism. In the junkyard, the car called to me like a  boxy, vinyl-topped beacon. I had to look while I could, knowing that Fifth Avenue sightings are increasingly fleeting.
The car was bigger in person than I thought it would be, this being the smallest of the American full-size offerings of the time and based upon the Plymouth Volare/ Dodge Aspen compacts. I pulled up on the  door handle and saw the rose red and warm woodgrain of the interior. The button-tufted velour  felt soft yet springy, undoubtedly a plush place to sit. The steering wheel was of that familiar design Chrysler used in the 80s with the two spokes pointing to the bottom of the thin rim. The shining pentastar emblem in the center made me wish Chrysler displayed it as prominently today.

img_4114Chrysler made some of the more interesting radio designs during the 80s-90s, the one in this Fifth Avenue looking slick with a shining metallic face and techy fonts. Before I shut the door, I grabbed the end of the column shifter and imagined dropping the three speed TorqueFlite into drive.

I lifted the hood which sprung up nicely; why do we bother using prop rods and hydrolics? A messy a dirty 318ci LA V8 was what I saw and what powered all of these M-bodies towards the latter end of production. It wheezed out 140hp but make up for it with 246 pound-feet of torque.

Its an imposing car; the fender louvres, shining grill, and quad headlamps with turn signals atop project sinisterness. Perhaps what really makes this car stick out is simply age. Its creased angularity, common 33 years ago when it was made, is far removed from the smooth curves of the sheetmetal surrounding it. No obvious concessions were made to aerodynamics in the pursuit of formality.
I walked away from the big, white chrysler, feeling sad the forlorn relic will never again see the road. It looked striking and dignified even as it sat doomed in the junkyard.