Each August, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance breaks the summer quiet in the automotive industry with some of the flashiest concepts of the year. We'd have serious trouble picking out a "flashiest of them all" this year, amongst the Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet, Ken Okuyama Kode 0 , BMW Concept Z4 and Infiniti Prototype 9, but we would say that Infiniti's retro-modern racer was perhaps the most pleasantly unexpected of the lot. One complaint: the initial debut left us absolutely starving for some driving footage. Thankfully, Infiniti didn't wait long to show some on-track action.
If you had asked us at the outset of 2017 to list some concept cars we'd likely see during the course of the year, a 1940s-style race car with modern Japanese design work and an electric powertrain most definitely wouldn't have crossed our minds. But that's the brief Infiniti has met with the Prototype 9, and while we can nitpick over the unnecessarily huge grille, we think the project was highly successful and one of several immediate favorites for "concept car of the year."
With a fairly flaccid 148-hp (110-kW) motor providing driving force at the rear wheels and a lithium-ion battery offering just 20 minutes of track time, the Prototype 9 is clearly more of an artistic show car than a racing tour de force. Still, those sumptuous curves, sharp tail and skinny tires really make us curious to see what it looks like arrowing and twisting around the track.
Unfortunately, the handful of videos that Infiniti released a few days after revealing the car doesn't include the type of raw driving footage we were hoping for. But there is some dramatized footage of a driver all decked out in an old timey helmet and goggles zipping around the track. Far from perfect, but at least it shows the Prototype 9 in its natural element.
Infiniti senior global design VP Alfonso Albaisa's description of the experience is probably more compelling than the footage itself, so we've included it in the second video clip.
If those videos leave you unsatisfied, be sure to check out the host of newly published photos we've put in the gallery, which mixes shots from Pebble Beach and the test track.