The single-seat open-wheeler is typical of the era in lots of ways with a very front engine/rear drive look and a nod at aerodynamics with that tapered tail. It’s a bit boxy up front but what about that grille? A little Silver Arrows perhaps but equally a believable precursor for the Infiniti grilles of today. There are other design cues – side gills, body crease lines – that are said to reflect Infiniti styling of today.
The company says Prototype 9, which started as a designer’s lunchtime doodle and was built as an after-hours project, is inspired by aeronautical design and motor sport of the 1940s. It’s a slightly curious decade to choose – half of it being taken up with other things – but we can surmise that Prototype 9 might have battled the Alfa Romeo Alfetta 158 of Nino Farina in the inaugural F1 race of 1950.
The body is hand-beaten steel over a steel ladder frame chassis. Not aluminium? That surely would have been more in-period, as well as more aeronautical and lighter: as it stands Prototype 9 weighs in at 890kg. In the small open cockpit with its little bucket seat there is an equally period feel with plenty of turned aluminium and black leather with red stitching.
In that fantasy 1950 Grand Prix the Japanese contender wouldn’t have stood much chance against the Alfa’s straight-eight supercharged engine. Prototype 9 is powered by a 161bhp electric motor with a 30 kWh battery – yes this ‘40s motor sport vision is all-electric.
It is also a fully driveable concept car, clocking up 105mph flat out and sprinting to 62mph from zero in 5.5secs. The brakes are discs but as the pictures show, those wheels are certainly period: 19-inch spoked centre-lock jobs shod with skinny cross-ply competition tyres.