Meet Infiniti's electric retro racer

Infiniti Prototype 9 Front Side View

Meet Infiniti's electric retro racer

Built in the style of a '40s or '50s racing vehicle, the Project 9 has been revealed bearing an electric drivetrain reportedly based on the upcoming all-new Nissan Leaf.

Even so it was only 28 years ago... in two weeks' time at the annual concours d'elegance in Pebble Beach, California, Infiniti is preparing a concept in the veil of fifties' race cars.

Under the hood, however, the Infiniti Prototype 9 showcases something that would have set it apart from its contemporaries, had it existed in the 1940s - according to Jalopnik, it is an electric GP race auto that makes use of modern technology and a present-day powertrain. As such, it produces only 148 horsepower and 236 lb/ft torque, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds and hitting a top speed of 105 miles per hour.

Infiniti's design head Alfonso Albaisa, a Cuban from Havana (imagine growing up dreaming of drawing cars in fuel-rationed and sanctioned Cuba), said the motivation to do a retro design study came from quite a romantic if unlikely fantasy - "What if we found a auto, down at the southern tip of Japan, buried deep in the barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years?"

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Perhaps most controversial is the application of Infiniti's double arch grille, which no doubt would have taken on a simpler form for a dedicated racing machine, along with the free-standing Infiniti bonnet ornament - something that even Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows race cars of the era (which obviously influenced the design direction of the Prototype 9 concept) went without.

Dubbed mitate and shitate, these Japanese principles relate to sourcing and combining the finest materials; the Prototype 9's cockpit is upholstered in black leather with red contrast stitching, while Japanese flags are stitched into the headrest. Most of the Prototype 9's surfaces are hand-finished, while the interior switches are inspired by aircraft design.

"It started as a simple thought - what if we found a auto, down at the Southern tip of Japan, buried deep in a barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years?" Prototype 9 has a top speed of 170km/h and sprints from 0-to-100km/h in 5.5 seconds, with a maximum EV range of 20 minutes under heavy track use. The philosophy behind its creation also references the "seed of passion" planted during Infiniti's first Japanese Grand Prix.

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