I grew up with Hondas and owned a 1993 Civic hatchback and a 2000 Civic hatchback since new (respectively). I was part on the Import Era/ Golden Age of Honda tuning. In 2000, I branched out and started to learn and buy other cars (280z, 280zx, RX7, 240sx fastback and Cressida). This lead me to learn about cars from an enthusiast standpoint, rather than being influenced by “the scene”. This was also right before the drift scene happened ( I got the 240sx, RX7 and Cressida for $300-$400 each).
In 2001, I went to Japan to meet my friends I had been communicating with through email (from their homepages). Mege-san picked me up in his A31 Cefiro and I fell in love with it. I’ve only see them in the magazines Mege-san sent me, but it was amazing to see in real life.
My F31 Journey
My EK Civic (2004) fell victim to theft and I didn’t want to buy another Honda. I wanted a RWD sedan. I wanted an A31 Cefiro and Vancouver BC had one arrive. I almost bought it, but crossing the border was the issue. When I returned back to Seattle, I searched Craigslist for Q45s. An ad for an Infiniti M30 for $700, then for $500 and then for $300 was posted. I went to see the car in person and the guy said, “$100, I need it out of the yard”. The back story was, his brother in law was going to prison and he left 3 cars there (all with titles). He offered the 2 other cars, but I only wanted the M30.
There wasn’t any information on M30s besides misc threads. When I became a moderator, I started to post anything I could find on the M30. The forum launched a lot for the US M30 enthusiasm as it was the only website that really put out info on M30s and Leopards. Our camaraderie made the our forums more of a welcoming place. While M30 questions popped up on other forums, many people would advocate for F31club to truly learn about the car.
I was very close to many people and I openly communicated with on the phone with anyone. Soon enough, it would be time to meet others and I reached out to everyone and eventually had a Northern and Southern California meetings.
I moved to California, financially struggling with the focus on school. Then came my kids, then back to University. I had put cars on hold and had even sold my M30 with intentions of getting it back when in the future. I then reconnected with F31club forum members from years ago. I regretted the mistake of getting rid of my black M30, but my interest was sparked, but also a bit of upset that many of the new owners didn’t respect F31club and the info many of us put out there.
In 2016, I went to Hawaii and met with Mark and Renny, both from F31club forums. I also met with Denny and Ken (Renny’s brothers).
A week later, I was in Japan for the 30th Anniversary Leopard meeting in Hamamatsu. 10yrs since my previous trip to Japan, but 1st time going to an F31 meeting.
After my trip in 2016, I was told that 2017 would be a special year. It was 31yrs since the release of the F31. In 2017 – I started to traverse through Japan meeting with many Leopard owners (and other friends and shops). I did this 3x in 2017.
- Wandering Leopard Pilgrimage – May 2017
- Wandering Leopard and cub – August 2017
- Wandering Leopard saga continues – September/October 2017
- Wandering Leopard in Japan 2018
- Wandering Leopard in Japan 2019
- Wandering Leopard in Japan 2020
Ever since 2016, when I plan a trip to Japan, it is is 90% wanting to meet with my Leopard brothers. So I plan everything around them. This has also been kind of the way I do things here in the US now. If I go some place, I try to meet with current an former M30 owners as much as possible.
HISTORY OF MY M30s
1st M30 – My black M30 was truly the liberator in my car lifestyle. I didn’t feel I had to live up to any car expectation, even with my car club/team members. Since nobody knew what the car was and there wasn’t much for it, I got away feeling it’s unique and obscurity.
When I bought the car, it was in rough condition. Bent hood and cracked headlight were very obvious. Parts were scarce and so Mege-san help me get Leopard headlights and other parts such as badges and side skirts. I was the 1st on US mainland to have the Leopard stuff. Again, the car flow under the radar and people didn’t even notice these subtle JDM items.
What I found out later was that many of the leopard owners in Japan called my car, “American Leopard” because I had leopard parts. I was only emailing a few of the Japanese leopard owners at the time.
2nd M30. The 2nd M30 was kind of a sacrifice. I lived in Seattle and Jacy (JCrapps) live in the bay area. Jacy’s M30 got damaged during shipping and he needed a front bumper. He couldn’t find one, but he found a guy in Seattle selling an M30 for $400… so he bought it. Jacy told me he just wanted the front bumper and I can take anything else. Of course I gave him I think $150 since I would just take parts. The M30 was beige and clean and besides the bumper going to Jacy, pretty much complete. It had a mechanical problem and I didn’t have money to have it fixed. So I took as many parts as possible.
In 2014, I got rid of my M30. It had been sitting for awhile and I was building my Previa. The final night I had, I took off all the JDM parts and tagged #f31club on instagram… this lead me to reconnect with a lot of the F31club guys on facebook. And for 2 years, I was realizing how much I do miss the M30.
2016 – When I visited Hawaii, Mark, Renny and I had this long conversation about owning M30s. I mentioned that I just want a nice clean stock M30. They both told me they were thinking the same thing. I realize that we’ve grown to appreciate the M30 in a different manner than the newer owners. A week later when I went to Japan, I learned that the Leopard owners had the same mentality and I realized that I need to get an M30 again.
3rd M30. When I got back from Japan, I searched for the nicest M30 at that time and found it in Portland, OR. After a 9 hour drive, it was home. The next day, my front lip and rear valance arrived from Japan. I brought out my old JDM stuff and started to dress her up.
I was super happy with the car and took steps to get her right. Did the head gasket, exhaust manifold studs, new muffler (horrible shop). I even showed her at RADwood.
M30 Convertible – Mark had convinced me about the M30 convertible. So I had been passively searching for the right candidate. There were a couple close times, but they fell through. Jim P is a convertible owner I was in contact with and when his son got in an accident, he had an M30 convertible that he didn’t want to part out (as he just did to another recently). I asked him if I could have it and he said yes! During Thanksgiving of 2018, I met with Jim and got the vert and drove it home!
I thought I was done.. make these cars clean and nice. Then something amazing happened…
Zenki front end – The Zenki front end was such a HUGE goal in the early days of F31club. It was the front clip massacre era. People talked about getting Zenki Leopard front clips. But it NEVER happened. After helping people in Japan get parts, they asked what I wanted and I said, I wanted to know where to get Zenki front end. The parts are rare and not everyone is gonna give those parts up. But I was able to piece it together and have it delivered. The plan was to put it on my Blue M30 and call it a day!
Kaido Racer F31 Leopard – I love Kaido racers and it was a goal to see one if I could. I found Noguchi-san in Nagasaki had built one and he said I could see the car.
Everything was there and I asked what the plan for the car was. Noguchi-san said they were gonna crush it. Right then and there, I had to ask….”Could I have the parts”? “Of course you can”. So in the future, I will secure these parts and build a kaido racer in the way they do in Japan.
Project Leopard 2019 – Well, this whole website it is dedicated to it.. but for this section, I’ll just touch up on. This was Koji’s build and I valued the car based on the exposure and status it garnered. I was contacted by the previous owners, Cameron who used it as a drift car and then Jon, who bought from Cameron but was also the original buyer from Koji. Jon was going to rebuild the car and I was gonna help him. He decided the project wasn’t gonna work out, so he offered the car to me. That is when I decided to put it all on this car. This would be that “tuner” car I never had.
90s VIP style – Since 2005, I’ve been in love with the Diana kit. It was just awesome to look at. It was a goal to get something like that. During my return trips to Japan, I was hoping to see a Diana kit on a Leopard at the meetings, but none ever showed up. I put the word out that I wanted to see a Diana kit and any info is appreciated. In 2020, I was at my annual Takamatsu dinner with Miyama and Noguchi-san when he showed me a picture of a Leopard with FULL DIANA KIT. I asked if he could ask the owner if I could see it that night. It didn’t happen. I found out the owner was trying to sell the kit and so I engaged in it. It would end up being a failed attempt as he wanted the M30 bumper and other stuff shipped to Japan ASAP (beginning of the pandemic too).
I considered it a lost cause. My brother Noguchi-san pulled through. He said he would buy the Diana kit and I’d pay him back…
The plan is to build the Blue M30 to be VIP styled.
I NEVER thought I’d reach this level of F31 building. I just thought I’d have my coupe and vert simple clean and made to be newish. I never thought that there would be the idea of having a zenki front end or a fully built RB25 or own a former magazine car or even the Diana kit.
I after the Kaido racer parts deal, I had this crazy dream of being at a car show with the Project Leopard (sports car), then a kaido racer and then a VIP car.
That is pretty much it. I have family, I work ( a lot) and I’m a regular guy. I’m not some big youtube vlogger nor are my cars sponsored. Everything here was done out of my own pocket. I’m usually an observer, but I’m not in any spotlight or have major connections.
People ask me why these cars… I can’t explain it, but while these cars don’t have the appeal or value of other cars… I’ve got a lot of sentimental value with the M30. I’ve met good people and done things that seem only to be unique to the F31 (leopard meets and community).
But the attraction of something unique and obscure was always there. Since of my connection to Japan, I have a Zenki front end and Diana kit… both rare items, for me to increase my M30s’ build. They are the only ones in North America. Also the approach I am taking is building these styles individually. I didn’t want to take the route of putting everything on one car.