Nissan’s premium offshoot Infiniti wasn’t around in the 1940s; it only came into being in 1989.
However, the newly unveiled Prototype 9 gives a strong hint at what a grand prix race car from the brand would’ve looked like if they did exist pre-WWII.
Revealed at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Prototype 9 is a sleek, open-wheeled electric retro-roadster that represents a reimagining of a 1940s race car and incorporates time-honoured production techniques to realise its retro design, such as hand-beaten panels from Nissan Motor Corporation’s Takumi master craftspeople.
Less retro is the race car’s powertrain, which features an electric motor and battery from Nissan’s Advanced Powertrain Department – a nod to the future that intentionally contrasts with the car’s traditional materials and techniques.
This powertrain links a 30 kWh high-voltage battery with a prototype electric motor, which hasn’t appeared on a production vehicle before. It produces 120 kW (the equivalent of 146bhp) and 320 Nm (or 236 lb ft) of torque to drive the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.
In short, this means Prototype 9 has a top speed of 105.6mph and can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 5.5 seconds.
Typically, the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs don’t last for too long when performance is tested and as such, the car will only last for 20 minutes under heavy track use.
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti’s senior vice president for global design, said they had to produce a prototype because the sketches for the race car were stunning and the idea was so compelling.
“As other departments became aware of this, they volunteered their time to create a working vehicle,” he added.
The car’s stunning bodywork is made from steel body panels, hammered into shape by the Takumi, and wrapped around a steel ladder frame.
Its cabin features no distractions from the road ahead with minimal switchgear, while the steering wheel rotates around a fixed central hub, housing the driver’s instrument gauges.
Prototype 9 required countless hours of careful construction, all of which were contributed voluntarily by Infiniti staff.
Mr Albaisa concluded by saying: “The beautiful execution of Prototype 9 represents a combination of artistry, craftsmanship and commitment to a romantic notion of our heritage.
“It inspired our people to work on Prototype 9 in their own time – as they were completely invested in the project and the details and features originated with them. Prototype 9 has been a labour of love for many of us.”