Infiniti Prototype 9 concept retcons history with EV guts

The grille is unfortunate, but the rest of it is pretty slick.

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Infiniti just provided the answer to a question nobody asked, and the resulting trip through time (with a few modern touches) is really quite interesting.

Infiniti unveiled the Prototype 9 concept ahead of its debut at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It's basically a retcon of motoring history, with Infiniti's craftsmen wondering what a 1940s racecar would look like if it were designed today, built using old-school methods and containing a next-gen Nissan Leaf drivetrain.

The car was not built in a factory by robots. Infiniti instead relied on Nissan's stable of Japanese craftsmen, who assembled to build this car by hand in a quiet corner of Nissan's research center in Yokohama. The steel body panels were shaped with hammers, and the tires are the old-school bias-ply type, in keeping with the historical aspect of it.

Pepperidge Farm isn't the only company that remembers.

Infiniti

The interior is equally well crafted. The exposed cockpit features black leather with red contrast stitching, an aluminum steering wheel hub, an instrument panel and that's about it. After all, racecars in the 1940s didn't have screens all over the place and other types of high-tech frippery.

Underneath the steel body panels and steel ladder frame lies the powertrain from a "next-generation EV" that's probably the 2018 Nissan Leaf. Its single electric motor is bolted to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission, and it puts out 148 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. It'll hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and should last about 20 minutes on the track with a heavy right foot.

The design is stunning, although I personally believe the grille is a step too far. It's not often that automakers reach this far back in time for new concepts, but we're glad Infiniti did.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to add a video of the Infiniti Prototype 9.