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 |   |  Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead
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Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

Steeped in tradition, this Q has changed hands multiple times but never swayed from the very style it helped establish Stateside

Rodrez
Jun 26, 2020
Photographer: John Krueger

The Jet Black 1998 Infiniti Q45 you see pictured carries a bit of a stigma upon its widened, precision-crafted shoulders. Not unlike other builds from various genres that were once owned and built by their original owner, then commandeered by someone new who gradually progressed the project, these sorts of cars are often seen as "bought not built" by those with way too much interest in how others spend their time and money. In the case of John Krueger, current owner of this VIP Q45, that often disparaging catchphrase has to be reworked considerably in order to relate to this sedan's storied timeline.

1998 Infiniti Q45 Custom Front Bumper 01 Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Ask Krueger about the car's transformation from briefcase-toting, business not-so-casual luxury sedan of the '90s to its Bippu-inspired look and then grab a seat as the vehicle's history isn't your typical "just a few bolt-ons that eventually led to a build" affair that you've become accustomed to. The car's nickname, "BrokeY33," is actually the first builder's nickname. Krueger adds, "Josh and the car always pushed the envelope for U.S. VIP in the early days. This car was used by Part Shop Max/PBM to develop coilovers for the Infiniti Q45 and Nissan S-chassis cars. Majority of the work was done by Josh and his friends, including the metal wide-body, rear tubs and custom bumpers."

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When Opportunity Knocks

In 2016, after over 13 years with the sedan, Josh decided to part ways and the car was sold to the owner of VIP'd Out in Tennessee. A little later, an ordinary trip home from a car show would be capped off by an accident which totaled the car entirely. That should have been the end of this Q45's run, but that's when its third owner stepped in.

At the time, Krueger had his hands full with a '00 Lexus LS 400 that he'd just completed wheels, suspension, arms and brakes on. He notes that he was actually getting ready to send the car off for a metal widebody and paint treatment when he got word about the accident. "Then the Q45 popped up—I knew I had to save it."

1998 Infiniti Q45 Vented Fenders Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

The totaled Q's history was enough to prompt the purchase and with thoughts of restoring it to its former glory and adding his own personal touch, it would mean taking on yet another project. "I ended up selling my LS 400 a year after I got the Q45 thinking I would build two VIP cars. The LS kept getting put on the back burner so I figured I'd sell it to someone who could finish it."

Starting Over in Order to Progress

Significant damage to the rear quarter panels, trunk and rear bumper meant that not just any body shop would be able to bring the car back properly—the one-off metal widebody treatment made sure of that. "I found a body shop near me that specializes in hot-rods and classics and they were willing to take on the work. They repaired the quarter panels using new sheet metal and reshaped everything to match the previous widebody." The custom rear bumper was also repaired, and Krueger ordered a brand-new trunk and rear window from Infiniti to complete the rebirth.

1998 Infiniti Q45 Custom Rear Window Spoiler Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

Making Things Personal

With so much work put into the body it was the perfect opportunity to come up with his own color scheme, and to that end Jet Black from a GT-R was chosen, but only after having hits of blue, green and gold flake integrated for a combination that glistens in direct light.

Up to this point, other than the unique color, the modifications all fell in line with restoring the original look. "After I got the car back from the body shop, I started adding my own touches, working on the two areas that hadn't been touched yet: interior and engine bay."

1998 Infiniti Q45 Altina Seat Cover Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

Parts Hunting in the West

Krueger served as a judge for StanceNation events for quite some time, and some of those events took place in California. During one of his trips to the West Coast, he came across a set of Altina seat covers from Japan. "I thought the blue/black colorway would be a nice direction to go with the interior. I matched these with some custom floor mats that a friend made for me at his work." Additional plans called for the color theme to continue onto the door panels and headliner but with the global pandemic underway, the upholstery shop he chose shut its doors for the time being and that portion of the build will take place once the country gets back to somewhat normal. Until then, along with the Altina covers you'll find a wooden Nardi wheel surrounded by dazzling D.A.D. crystal touches throughout the dash and requisite bubble shift knob.

In regard to the engine bay, the parts bins aren't exactly overwhelmed by performance goods for the VH41 and that's just fine by Krueger, as this build leans much further toward style rather than ripping down backroads at full throttle. Still, the V8 growls a little deeper now thanks to an A'PEXi intake and custom exhaust system that no doubt bumps power slightly.

1998 Infiniti Q45 Custom Engine Covers Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

Keeping it Local

On the rare occasion that Krueger opens the hood, you'll notice the mundane plastic V8 engine covers have been customized. He adds, "One of my staples is to commission a local artist to do some paint work in my engine bay, and I found someone through my group of friends that's a pretty good graffiti artist and I had him tag my engine covers and airbox."

A self-proclaimed wheel whore, Krueger's current rolling stock consists of massive 20x13-inch rear and 20x11 front VIP Modular wheels that he actually sourced on one of his trips to SoCal. Perched perfectly underneath the widened metal fenders, they're a completely custom affair with chrome step lips and machined faces joined by copper-plated hardware. Even the most finicky "fitment gawds" would approve as the 315 rear/255 front Toyo tires narrowly avoid rubbing shoulders, most of the time, with the fender work.

1998 Infiniti Q45 VIP Modular VX110 Wheel 01 Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

Finding the right combination of suspension components for a ride height like this and not constantly dealing with bacon fenders is an art in and of itself. Browse through the suspension changes in the accompanying spec list and note the cross-platform additions that come from the S-chassis family, then realize it's much more than just dialing down coilovers and clenching every time you see a road surface inconsistency.

Assuming Responsibility

Taking on someone else's previous build can be more trouble than it's worth. Dealing with electrical gremlins, hidden issues or previous cover-ups can often pop up and the headaches begin mounting. In the case of BrokeY33, the original owner and his friends didn't take any shortcuts, leaving the new owner with a solid foundation, even after the unfortunate accident. As a result, the real challenge for Krueger was paying homage by bringing the car back to its original status, then making it his own—something he's been successful in doing with more plans for progression set to take place in the near future.

1998 Infiniti Q45 Custom Front Bumper 02 Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead

He closes with this, "I want to finish off the interior and then bring the car back to California and the West Coast to show it as a bit of a homecoming. A lot of the OG US VIP guys have reached out and connected with me since I got the car and brought it back from the dead. The car has a lot of history to the community and I'm glad to keep the car alive. The build will never fully be mine, and I'm fine with that. I'm happy to be the caretaker of this car knowing its history in the US VIP culture."

1998 Infiniti Q45 Custom Rear Bumper Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead
1998 Infiniti Q45 Custom Side Skirts 02 Photo 25/25   |   Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead
By Rodrez
856 Articles
Bringing The BrokeY33 VIP 1998 Infiniti Q45 Back From The Dead
Tuning Menu
Car: 1998 Infiniti Q45
Owner: John Krueger
Engine: A'PEXi intake; true dual exhaust; aluminum engine mounts; custom painted engine covers
Footwork & Chassis: S13 front knuckles, spindles, ball joints; Y33 front lower control arms; PBM S13 coilovers 30kg spring rates, Y33 coilover top hats, S14 rear upper control arms, traction rods, toe rods, subframe solid risers; Kazama tension rods; Tein S13 tie rods; powdercoated front/rear subframes; subframes sectioned and raised for maximum lowering
Brakes: TT 300zx front and rear brake calipers, rotors; stainless steel braided lines
Wheels & Tires 20x13 rear, 20x11 front VIP Modular VX110 wheels w/chrome-plated step lips, machined faces, copper hardware and center caps; 315/30 rear, 255/30 front Toyo Tires T1R
Exterior: Full metal widebody; 2015 GT-R Jet Black w/blue, gold and green flake paint mini-tubs in rear wheel wells; custom front/rear bumpers, side skirts, vented fenders, rear window spoiler; JDM Y33 Cima HID headlights, power folding mirrors w/blinker covers, Grand Touring grille; shaved windshield washer nozzles; '99-01 factory Q45 rear spoiler; full LED taillights w/dancing turn signals
Interior: Altina blue/black diamond-stitch seat covers; Nardi wood grain steering wheel; push-button shifter conversion; bubble shift knob; 99 A/C, radio, center dash conversion, DAD crystal gauge cluster; Kenwood 7in touchscreen; dual 12in Pioneer subwoofers; Alpine amplifier; custom trunk/sub enclosure
Thanks: To my husband and partner Patrick Behrendt for all the support over the years and building cars with me, my crew Low'N Slow Crew, Meguiar's, Toyo Tires, Milt Salamanca, Thomas Pinai, Ronald Santos, Tom Syhachack, Giovanni Dicharia, Elvis Skender, Brendan Taft, Karl Osaki, Lake Marion Collision, Top Shelf Tires, Carlin at Impact Performance, Rishie at Auto RND, Nat Huynh, Ben, Ray, Russ, Dru, Kyle and the rest of the LowBallers, Alex Duenas, Coleman, Anderson, Josh, Andrew, Jesse Delgado, John at VIPStyle Cars, James for selling me the car, Sam Du for the feature, Joey Lee, Yuta Akaishi, Wayne/August Cascade, AW Stickers, Rene Garcia, and anyone else I may have forgot that's helped me with this car. Last but not least, thanks to my parents for everything over the years. Rest in Peace, Mom.

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