At Pebble Beach, Infiniti shows the Prototype 9, an example of what a brand car in the '40' could have looked like. For discussion, of course: is it nice that the Japanese brand also has an eye for classics and classic events, or is it pure kitsch?
The luxury Nissan brand is proud of the driving prototype, says designer Alfonso Albaisa. 'With the Prototype 9 we celebrate the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our predecessors at Nissan Motor Corporation - with our brand we stand on their shoulders. It started as a discussion: what if Infiniti had built a racing car in the '40 years? If you were to imagine an Infiniti single-seater on the famous circuits of that time, such as the Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like? The sketches were amazing and the idea was so fascinating that we had to make a prototype. When other divisions within our company became aware of this, they wanted to participate so that we could create a moving car. "
The technology is certainly not from the '40 years. The Prototype 9 is equipped with an electric motor from Nissans Advanced Powertrain Department. That engine delivers 120 kW (163 hp) and a torque of 320 Nm. As befits a classic racing car, it has rear-wheel drive. A sprint from 0 to 100 takes 5,5 seconds, the top speed is 170 km / h. Infiniti promises that you can ride the circuit for twenty minutes with the Prototype 9 ('under heavy track use') before the battery runs out.
Birth of a car brand
Building such a racing car that you never had, where have we seen that before? Of course, at Studebaker. That brand also built such a neo-classic in the 60, inspired by the Mercedes SSK. The plan was to have the show stopper of the show. Just before the car would be shown at the New York City Auto Show of 1964, Studebaker thought: the public would just think that Studebaker was considering taking such a car into production.
Designer Brooks Stevens decided to put the car on the stock exchange itself, as one Special Project of Brooks Stevens Design Associates. The interest turned out to be overwhelming and the list of potential buyers was huge. In the end, Stevens could do little else than actually build the car: the birth of the Excalibur car brand.
Over the years, the cars became increasingly kitschy, but that didn't stop countless celebrities from buying an Excalibur. Among them were Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Dick van Dyke, Dean Martin and the King of Spain.
The question remains: does it remain for Infiniti with this one prototype, or does the brand take the road of Excalibur? And is it nice that such a young brand also has an eye for classics and classic events, or is it pure kitsch?