THE INFINITI PROTOTYPE 9 has been revealed at Pebble Beach this weekend, showing off Nissan and Infiniti's interpretation of a barn-found open-wheel racer from the 1940s. But despite that obvious throwback design hearkening back to the glory days of European auto racing, the new concept vehicle actually bakes in some newfangled technology, as it is actually an electric race vehicle prototype.
For Japanese manufacturer Nissan, November 8, 1989, is a notable date in history - it was only 28 years ago that spin-off luxury brand Infiniti started selling dressed up Nissans to Americans, and in doing so along with Toyota's Lexus and Honda's Accord legitimising some premium action on the side for the Japanese. Lead Infiniti designer Alfonso Albaisa and his team then set to work on the auto, with Nissan's advanced engineering and specialty vehicle divisions also getting involved.
The design philosophy behind the Prototype 9 was inspired by a question - namely: "what if we [Infiniti] found a auto, down at the southern tip of Japan, buried deep in a barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years?"
The first images shared by Infiniti are reminiscent of Mercedes' famous Silver Arrows, which dominated the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit back in the 1950s. "What would this discovery look like?" Then again, the publication added that Infiniti also referred to its present-day "Powerful Elegance" design language, giving the Prototype 9 a contemporary touch subtly visible amid the old-school design cues. It receives its motivation from an electric motor (similar to the one that will power the new Leaf) which produces 148 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.
Because of its lack of weight Prototype 9 can rocket from 0-100 km/h in a brisk, if not breathtaking 5.5 seconds, with top speed limited to 170 km/h. Rather than power the front wheels, like in the Leaf, the Prototype 9's electric motor powers the rear wheels. Beautifully crafted to resemble the manufacturer's vintage racing machines of the 1930s, this exquisite retro racer captures everything great about Infiniti's distant past, but with a modern twist.
According to Infiniti, the Prototype 9 can reach 60 miles per hour in less than 5.5 seconds and has a limited top speed of 105 miles per hour.