We’ve all heard of retirement. By the time most of us are well into our 30s and 40s we start thinking about it. You start hoping that the decisions you’ve made when you were younger, the career path you chose, and financial decisions (or mistakes) you made will afford you the luxury of retirement by the time you hit 65 (who picked that age though, seriously?).
No, this isn’t some life-advice post, but more of an odd segway into talking about cars, or at least how one particular car, is enjoying the retired life. Yes, I said it, cars can retire. When you think about it, it’s kind of true. Whether it’s a race car, a show car, or just one of those builds that gained national/international notoriety, people always seem to ask, “whatever happened to xyz car?”
XYZ car happens to be this 1998 Infiniti Q45, and it’s happily enjoying its retired life some 2,000 miles away from where it spent the majority of its life. For those that are deeply routed in the US VIP scene, you’ll recognize the car. For the younger generation and the newcomers to the VIP scene, it’s okay to think that this car looks like all the popular VIP builds showcased today, but what you don’t realize is this car was put together some 15-years ago.
Built in southern California in the early to mid 2000s, this Q45 went on to pave the way for the US VIP scene. The original builder of the car was the low-key type, and only known by his screen-name from the VIP-Style Cars forums; BrokeY33 which the car became known as. I only know him as Josh, and don’t know much more than that as the car’s story and history was mainly passed to me through close friends as he doesn’t really do much with social media and the internet in general. The last time I talked with him about the car I was pretty much told, “I built it, but I sold it and that’s that. I’m no longer involved with that car.”
The car’s widened arches and fenders, as well as the bumpers and roof spoiler were all done by Josh and friends in a garage. Custom was the theme as well as a heavy Japanese influence. “I wanted the car to look like it was built in Japan. And be as low as the cars in Japan.”
Surprisingly enough, after the car was finished, it wasn’t seen very much. It didn’t make it to many big shows and because Josh didn’t like the limelight, the car stayed out of it. Then, some years later the car was sold to another prolific name in the US VIP scene and made its way to the southern United States. It spent some time there before the unthinkable happened and the car was wrecked.
Most would think that’s where the story would end, but the title of this article is, “Retired Life,” and not an obituary paying tribute. Another person stepped in and bought the car with the intent on returning the Q45 to its former glory.
That buyer happened to be me. I had been following the car for quite some time, and despite having a couple full-time builds of my own, I knew I had to step in and save the car. After buying the car, I had it shipped up north to my garage in Minnesota, and spent the next few years rebuilding the car, and putting what I thought were the finishing touches on a timeless build.
Fortunately for me, the damage wasn’t too severe and I had an amazing base to build from. The main damage was to the rear of the car, and the most challenging part was saving the widened quarter panels, but I had a very talented body shop step up to the plate. Without me saying anything, you’d be hard-pressed to know this car had been wrecked. Bumpers were repaired and a new OEM trunk was sourced before the car was painted in a custom black based off a R35 GTR color; jet black with blue, green and gold flake added to it. After the car was painted, new glass was installed to complete the repairs.
To ‘finish’ off the car, I did the interior, stereo, wheels, and added some touches to the engine bay. Initially I put some 18-inch SSR Viennas on the car for a classic, VIP look, but came across these VIP Modular wheels in a 20-inch spec and thought they’d fill up the fenders better. I think they look alright, but find myself going back to the SSRs from time-to-time.
One thing I didn’t have to worry about was the suspension as this Q45 is well sorted in that department. Josh did his homework with this one, and with parts from companies like PBM and Kazama auto, this car was sitting at Japan-level low easily and the hardcore way; static. All I had to do was set it to my height and camber specs.
With the car revitalized and finished, it’s time to enjoy the car right? Well, it is, but not quite in the way one would think. The car is enjoyed but it’s enjoyed on my terms and on my time. I don’t take it to local shows or events, although I did take it to a few national events last year, and there’s plans to bring the car to California for a little home-coming, but that’s all pending the current pandemic we’re in. The Y33 is very much enjoyed personally by me, and that’s all that really matters. It enjoys a quiet life on display in my garage that has a little sitting area so I can pop in and admire the cars with a nice beverage.
What I do like sharing is the car’s story. This Q45 has an interesting one, and it holds a place in US VIP history. What many consider a legend and pioneer of the US VIP culture it’s hard not to share the story of BrokeY33. I feel that every car built to this level carries a bit of the owner with it, and whether Josh intended to or not, he really set the foundation for the US VIP scene. There are a handful of cars that will stand the test of time, and so far I think this Q45 can still hold its own today just as it did 15-years ago. For now though, this Y33 enjoys a quiet life up north. Hopefully every car’s retirement can be just as pleasant.