Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept; A Retro Roadster for the Future

Infiniti, the luxury automotive brand of Japanese automaker Nissan has unveiled a sleek, open-wheeled electric retro roadster prototype at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Called as the Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept, the car is a celebration of Nissan Motor and Infiniti’s ingenuity, artistry and craftsmanship.

infiniti prototype 9 concept front top

Inspired by the race cars from the 1940s, the Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept has been brought to life as an after-hours endeavour by a passionate and hardworking team of employees from across the Nissan Motor Corporation. The figure ‘9’ is spoken ‘kyuu’ in Japanese, similar to the anglicized pronunciation of the letter ‘Q’, which is adopted for all of the Infiniti’s production cars.

Powering the Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept car is a prototype electric powertrain coupled with a 30 kWh high-voltage battery which has been developed by Nissan’s Advanced Powertrain Department. The motor produces 120 kW (148 hp) and 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque.

The power from the motor is transferred to the rear wheels, via a single-speed transmission. The concept car can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 5.5 seconds and can attain a top speed of 170 km/h (105.6 mph). The Prototype 9 has a maximum range of 20 minutes under heavy track use.

infiniti prototype 9 concept rear left

The concept car features sleek lines, and aeronautically-inspired bodywork crafted in bare sheet metal wrapped around a steel ladder frame. The panels were hand-beaten by a team of Takumi, Nissan Motor Corporation’s master craftspeople. Deep-stamping production processes were also incorporated to produce the stunning bodywork.

The Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept features aerodynamic surfaces, long bonnet and short overhangs and an exposed cockpit. It also includes 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 were in its bodywork. The concept car drives on 19-inch centre-locking wire-spoke wheels which are wrapped in period cross-ply competition tyres.

The cockpit of the Prototype 9 Concept adheres to Infiniti‘s contemporary approach to interior design which has been handmade by the company’s interior design teams. The cockpit is the result of two Japanese approaches to craftsmanship – ‘mitate’ (pronounced “mee-ta-teh”) and ‘shitate’ (“shee-ta-teh”). ‘Mitate’ relates to the practice of curating and bringing together the best possible selection of materials. ‘Shitate’ is the desire to tailor the chosen combination of materials, bringing out their best characteristics.

infiniti prototype 9 concept steering

The interior of the car features minimal switchgear and are wrapped in black leather with contrast red stitching. Subtle Japanese flags are stitched into the integrated headrests of the deep single bucket seat. The steering wheel of the open-wheeled race car rotates around a fixed central hub and houses the instrument gauges. Inspired by an effect found on aircraft of the 20th century, the hub is finished in hand turned aluminium.

The beginning of the Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept is quite interesting. It started its life as a conceptual sketch for an Infiniti race car which was inspired by roadsters and aircraft of the era which was initially shared only with close colleagues. The idea soon spread among Infiniti’s design team members and each individual who looked at it thought it warranted more attention.

It was still a secretive passion project when the car was converted into scale design studies in clay and full-size models were built. Soon news spread to other parts of Infiniti Motor Company and throughout its parent company, the Nissan Motor Corporation. The officials noticed something unique and exclusive was taking shape at the design centre.

When the production team at Infiniti became aware of Prototype 9 project, they promptly offered to build it. The model was then secretly transported from the Infiniti Design Studio in Atsugi to a secluded section of the Nissan Research Centre, Oppama, just outside Yokohama, Japan. And that is how the Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept was born – Out of Sheer Passion.

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