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JUN 12th 2014

Wing mirrors? They're so 1911... (with video)

76061nis copyThat old adage that all cars are improved by motorsport extends to even the most basic features. The very first car to use a rear-view mirror was the Marmon Wasp, which won the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911. Now all cars – both road-going and racing – are required to feature this most basic safety device.

Well, that was the case until the Nissan ZEOD RC went out in testing at Le Mans. It made history by being the first racing car in decades to run (intentionally) with no mirrors. Well, outside of kart racing anyway! In their place is a rear-view camera with a corresponding screen inside the car. It says something about the ZEOD’s outlandish shape that the omission of mirrors isn’t glaringly obvious.

The smart system not only relays the image to the screen, but also highlights with arrows approaching traffic. If following cars are bearing down fast, the arrows flash red. A welcome warning or irritating distraction? Only the drivers can answer, although you can get an impression from the video below. In case the system fails, there are mirrors in the pit garage and mounting points on the car.

If they needed to be fitted, it would reintroduce the drag that the Nissan team is looking to avoid. The removal of mirrors is one of the many features developed to enhance the car’s efficiency. The aim is to complete a full lap of the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit under electric power only. If that’s achieved, it will be the first car to do so.

The smart mirror is a development of the system first shown at March’s Geneava show, and could filter down to Nissan road cars. If it does, will it endure in the way the simple mirror of 1911 has…?

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