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Infiniti unveils Prototype 9 Pebble Beach concept

Retro rocket: The Infiniti Prototype 9 blends old and new technology with a 1940s era design powered by an all-electric powertrain.

Old and new combine for 1940s-style electric Infiniti Prototype 9 racecar

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Infiniti logo15 Aug 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

INFINITI has used the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to unveil the Prototype 9, an electric sportscar concept inspired by the Grand Prix racecars of the 1940s.

The Japanese car-maker says the design was born from the question of what an Infiniti racecar could have looked like in the 1940s, while the all-electric motor and battery is a prototype from Nissan’s advanced powertrain department.

Developing 120kW/320Nm sent to the rear wheels, the Protoype 9’s lithium-ion battery and electric motor set-up can propel the 890kg single-seat racer from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 170km/h.

The first Infiniti to use the new EV powertrain, it has a maximum range of 20 minutes of high-intensity track use.

A conceptual sketch inspired by roadsters and aircraft of the era started the design of the Prototype 9, penned by Infiniti global design senior vice-president Alfonso Albaisa.

“We discussed the idea of ‘chancing’ upon an unrecognised racecar, hidden away for decades in a barn, deep in the Japanese countryside,” he said.

“We wanted to explore what this looked like, what it would have been made of.

Open-wheeled racers of the age were beautiful machines, elegant and powerful and with a wonderful purity of purpose.

“It’s an automotive fantasy, but the notion captured our imaginations enough to put pencil to paper.” Some Inifiniti design elements are present in the Prototype 9, including a double-arch grille, ‘shark gills’ near the front wheels, and a single-crease hood.

Built on a ladder-frame chassis, the bodywork is made from steel panels hand-beaten by Nissan’s master craftspeople, called the ‘Takumi’.

The open, single-seat cockpit is finished in black leather with red contrast stitching, with Japanese flags subtly integrated into the seat headrest.

Minimal switchgear features in the instrument cluster, which is highlighted by a hub finished in tuned aluminium, inspired by aircraft from the first half of the 20th century.

The vintage look is capped off by 19-inch centre-locking wire-spoke wheels wrapped in cross-ply competition tyres from the period.

The 2017 Concours d’Elegance takes place on Sunday August 20.

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