+VIDEO Modern car manufacturers like Nissan may have shifting metal as their top priority but most of the guys running the company are car people nevertheless. Petrolheads through and through… well, hybrid heads at least.
And so, just because they could, a team of Nissan designers and engineers have put together their interpretation of a 1940s race car. Actually, it looks closer to a 1930s Auto Union than the 1940s.
Nissan unveiled the project at this year’s Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance in California under its prestige brand Infiniti. It’s called Prototype 9.
“Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan, on whose shoulders we stand today,” said Alfonso Albaisa, boss of design at Nissan.
“If one were to imagine an open-wheeled Infiniti racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan’s Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like? The sketches were stunning and the idea so compelling that we had to produce a prototype. As other departments became aware of this, they volunteered their time to create a working vehicle.”
The car is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery from Nissan’s Advanced Powertrain Department. This nod to the future contrasts with the traditional materials and techniques applied for the Prototype 9’s manufacture, including hand-beaten panels created by a team of Nissan master craftspeople.
“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.”
Finished in a bare sheet-metal skin, Prototype 9 is the result of countless hours of careful construction. The designs of the brand’s contemporary road cars are characterised by deep-stamping production methods, which enable the creation of sharply defined lines and smooth body surfaces. Far from production lines, this out-of-hours project required similarly technical yet more traditional crafting methods.
The vehicle’s bodywork is made from steel body panels wrapped around a steel ladder frame. The panels were hammered into shape by the Takumi. Panel beaters included Infiniti’s signature design elements, such as the double-arch grille, ‘shark gills’ aft of the front wheels, a single-crease hood, and sharp lines that stretch from front to rear.
The motor produces 120kW (148hp) and 320Nm (236lbft) of torque, driving the rear wheels, via single-speed transmission. Prototype 9 has a top speed of 170kph (105.6mph), and sprints from 0-to-100kph (0-to-62mph) in 5.5 seconds, with a maximum range of 20 minutes under heavy track use.