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Infiniti reimagines 1940s racer with all-electric retro Prototype 9

Infiniti has unveiled its sleek, open-wheeled electric retro-roadster called the Prototype 9 at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The racer is powered by a prototype electric motor and 30kWh high-voltage battery from Nissan’s Advanced Powertrain Department, and in contrast to the traditional materials and techniques applied for its manufacture, including panels hand-beaten by a team of Takumi – Nissan’s master craftsmen.

“What started as an after-hours idea grew into a fully-fledged prototype; our designers and engineers were excited by the notion of creating a past vision, a nod to our origins. They volunteered their own time, more and more staff became involved. Our teams have proven skills in manufacturing, engineering, design and advanced powertrains, yet they wanted to bring their own traditional craftsmanship to the project.

They made Prototype 9 a reality, a result of their ingenuity – they recognized and realized the past, powered by a future-centric electric powertrain at its heart. Prototype 9 blends modern technology and hand-crafted details paying tribute to the forebears of INFINITI,” said Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President.

According to Infiniti, the Prototype 9 was inspired by an emerging era of Japanese motorsport. The custom-built Prince R380, which also will be shown during Monterey Car Week at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, broke several land speed records in 1965 before taking overall victory at the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway. Prince Motor Company is considered to be Japan’s original builder of premium automobiles, and its legacy can be traced to Infiniti and its current model line. The R380 shown at The Quail is the actual Japanese Grand Prix-winning car, believed to be the only surviving R380.

The EV powertrain in the Prototype 9 produces 120kW and 320Nm of torque, and is connected to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The racer has a top speed of 170km/h and is capable of dashing from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds, with a maximum EV range of 20 minutes under heavy track use.

Prototype 9 technical specifications:

Body and chassis
LayoutSingle-seater race car with steel ladder frame and handmade steel body panels
Powertrain
LayoutLithium-ion battery with electric motor
Battery typeLithium-ion
Max power (motor)120 kW (148 hp)
Max torque320 Nm (236 lb ft)
TransmissionSingle-speed
DrivetrainRear-wheel drive
Suspension and steering
FrontLeading-arm rigid axle with transverse leaf spring
RearDe Dion axle with transverse leaf spring
SteeringNon-power assisted
DampersHydraulic rotary type
Wheels, tires and brakes
WheelsFrontCenter-locking wire spokes, 19-inch
RearCenter-locking wire spokes, 19-inch
TiresFront450-19
Rear650-19
BrakesFront252 mm ventilated discs without booster
Rear252 mm solid discs without booster
Dimensions, mm (inches)
Length4,330 (170.5)
Width1,820 (71.7)
Height910 (35.8)
Ground clearance65 (2.5)
Wheelbase2700 (106.3)
TrackFront1,550 (61.0)
 Rear1,570 (61.8)
Weight, kg (lbs)
Vehicle weight890 (1,962)
Weight distribution, fr/rr43 / 57
Performance
Top speed, kph (mph)170 (105.6)
Acceleration, 0-100 kph5.5 secs

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