Nissan's luxury division Infiniti didn't start making and selling cars until 1989. Hence, it's clear that the carmaker wasn't around in the 1940s to design the type of open-wheel roadsters that competed during the golden era of motorsport.
But in a bid to make up for lost time, and to do a bit of showboating before festivities kicked off at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Infiniti revealed a "what if" race car that showcases what they would’ve built if they existed in the ‘40s.
Decked out in steel panels hammered onto a steel frame, the Prototype 9 has the soul of a car from the past but the engine of a car from the future — for one, it’s electric. Thanks to its e-powertrain (similar to the one you’ll find in a Nissan Leaf), the 148-HP Prototype 9 has a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds and tops out at 105 MPH.
Infiniti Racer (4 images)
Despite that modern touch, Infiniti kept things classic and gave the simple single-seater a leaf-spring suspension, wire-spoke wheels wrapped in competition tires and no power steering.
“The beautiful execution of Prototype 9 represents a combination of artistry, craftsmanship and commitment to a romantic notion of our heritage,” said Nissan SVP Alfonso Albaisa. “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.”
Don’t expect the passion project on the road anytime soon, or ever, but give it a look. Does Infiniti have a right to build a retro concept like this? Absolutely not. But it's not every day you see a prototype of a race car that never existed.