Handcrafted on the outside, all-electric powertrain guts on the inside.
Last week, Infiniti revealed a teaser image of its latest creation, the Prototype 9, and immediately it caught our attention. Why? Because it was a retro open wheeled 1940s race car throwback tribute. And today, just ahead of its official debut at Pebble Beach, Infiniti has released several images and full details. First off, it won’t reach production, that’s for sure. Instead, the "Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forbearers at Nissan," stated the automaker’s VP and global design boss, Alfonso Albaisa.
“What if Infiniti had created a race car in the 1940s? If one were to imagine an open-wheeled INFINITI racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan’s Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like?” This is the result, but it’s not powered by conventional internal combustion, but the next generation Nissan Leaf’s all-electric motor, which makes 148 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Supposedly, this 1,962 pound retro silver cruise missile can go from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and has a top speed of 106 mph. There’s even a 43/57 front to rear weight distribution, which we imagine would be pretty good on a race track. However, the battery supplies only enough power for 20 minutes of actual racing speeds.
Aside from the tech, literally everything else about the Prototype 9 was done old school. Specifically, its steel body is handmade (it was hammered into shape) and it’s wrapped around a ladder frame chassis. Albaisa added that the Prototype 9 was originally an after-hours project, and it quickly turned into a labor of love. It’s best to think of the Prototype 9 as a "what if" type of thing. What if Nissan, or rather Infiniti if it existed post WWII, recovered from the war at a faster pace than it actually did and competed in motorsport, alongside the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes? What would a 1940s-1950s Nissan-built Japanese Formula 1 car look like? This breathtaking concept will be on display at Monterey Car Week at Pebble Beach later this week.