Nissan Leopard was a series of luxury sports cars manufactured and sold by Nissan. The first Leopard appeared in 1980 and remained in production for about nineteen years until 1999. In its early years, it was based on Japanese Nissan Skyline and Nissan Laurel and American Datsun 910/Nissan Maxima. However, in later years the car used the chassis of the Nissan Cedric and Nissan Gloria. The rear-wheel drive Leopard led the basis for the Nissan Infiniti M and J products.
First Generation: F30 (1980-1986)
In September 1980, the first generation Leopard F30 (also called the Leopard TR-X) was launched. Nissan designed this car to compete with the upper medium class of vehicles produced in the market including Toyota Chaser. It featured an angular body offered as a 2-door hardtop coupe and a 4-door hardtop sedan. Both these body styles came with very lean C- and D-pillars and larger glass surfaces. The Leopard also featured a fuel consumption gauge. It was powered by a naturally aspirated inline 4-and 6-cylinder engines having displacements of 1800, 2000 and 2800 cc. A 2.0-L turbo-engine was released in September 1982. Later in 1984, a limited Turbo Grand Edition with 3.0-L turbo-engine used in 300ZX was added in the lineup.
The Nissan Leopard was essentially based on the North American’ Datsun 810 rebadged as Nissan Maxima and built Datsun 910’s platform. The trim levels offered in its early years were: L-280X SF, L-200X SF, 200X SF, 200X CF, 180X CF and 180X F. The styling was revised in its middle years after which the available trims became: 300 Turbo Grand Edition, Turbo ZGX Super Edition, Turbo ZGX, Turbo SGX, 200X ZGX, 200X SGX, 180X SGX, 180X GX.
Second Generation: F31 (1986-1992)
In February 1986, the second generation Leopard F31 was launched by Nissan. It was offered only as a luxury GT coupe. Total of 5000 Leopard were imported to US market out of which 2500 units were transformed to convertibles by ASC. In the US market, the F31 leopard was marketed under Infiniti M30 badge. F31 was regarded as the first coupe in Infiniti’s line and the only convertible presented by Infiniti. The car was built on Nissan Skyline and Nissan Laurel C32’s platform.
The F31 was powered by a range of engines including: VG30DET, VG30DE, VG20DET (post 1988), VG20ET (prior to 1988), and VG20E. Initially, the 2.0-L turbo versions offered with a single-cam VG20ET, but in August 1988, the quad-cam version was added in the lineup. The top of the range model came with a 3.0-L VG30DET engine producing 190 kW (255 hp). An intercooler was offered only in VG20ET and VG20DET.
Third Generation: Y32 (1992-1996)
In June 1992, the third generation Leopard Y32 was launched as Leopard J Ferie (where férié is French for holiday). Only available in saloon body style, it pursued for the rounded shape of the U13 Bluebird and Altima. North American market received Y31 as Infiniti J30. The entire range of J30/Leopard J Ferie was assembled in Tochigi, Japan. It featured MacPherson strut front suspension, while the rear wheels received the multi-link suspension. It also featured Nissan’s HICAS four-wheel technology.
The Y32 came with a 3.0-L VG30DE V6 engine also used in 300ZX, developing 210 hp and torque of 360 Nm (192 lb-ft). It was built in Cedric/Gloria chassis. Japanese market received three trims including: Type F with the VG30DE V6, Type X came with VH41DE V8 and Type L with a smaller V6 engine.
Fourth Generation: Y33 (1996-1999)
In March 1996, the last generation Leopard Y33 was launched. It was offered only as hardtop sedan model. It featured a frameless side window approach as well as a B-pillar to enhance the side impact crash resistance and overall stability. For the last generation, the ‘J Ferie’ suffix was dropped from the name. The Y33 was also based on the Cedric/Gloria and Cima chassis.
The last generation model was not offered in North America. However, in North America, the Infiniti range was taken over by the Nissan Cefiro/Infiniti J30. The V8 engine was no more available, while a four-wheel drive version was made available with RB25DET turbocharged straight 6 engine featuring the Nissan’s direct fuel injection setup.