Infiniti Just Built a Badass 1940s Roadster With an Electric Engine

Any car can rewrite history when it looks this good

By Evan Bleier

Infiniti Just Built a Badass 1940s Roadster With an Electric Engine
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14 August 2017

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. 

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