Why it matters to you
Infiniti is out to prove that concept cars don’t need to be overly futuristic; they can put a different spin on the past, too.
Once a classic car show for the rich and famous, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held annually on the outskirts of Monterey, California, has become a venue where high-end automakers go to strut their stuff. The action this year will include a brand-new Infiniti concept inspired by the cars that tore up race tracks in the 1940s and 1950s.
The intriguing design study is named simply Retro Prototype. Infiniti isn’t ready to reveal it in full, but a few teaser images suggest it takes the form of a single-seater with a long, narrow body and exposed wheels. The front end falls in line with the brand’s “powerful elegance” design language, as seen on the QX50 concept, but we’ll have to wait until next week to get our first glimpse of it.
While technical details haven’t been published, the lack of an exhaust pipe suggests this classic won’t smell like gasoline and oil because it runs purely on electricity. Infiniti tells us the Retro Prototype is equipped with advanced EV technology, likely involving a clever packaging solution for the battery pack.
“It started as a simple thought: What if we found a car, down at the southern tip of Japan, buried deep in the barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years?” explained Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti’s senior vice president of design, in a statement. The Retro Prototype is hailed as a celebration of Infiniti’s pioneering spirit.
The company’s decision to pay homage to classic racers is a little bit puzzling at first. Nissan launched the Infiniti brand in the United States in November 1989, so it certainly doesn’t have seven decades’ worth of heritage to draw upon like older brands. It’s a bold move on the company’s part. We applaud the originality, and we’re looking forward to seeing the concept basking on the lawn in Pebble Beach.
Infiniti hasn’t revealed what the future holds for the Retro Prototype. If we were to guess, we’d say it’s a one-off model developed and built to turn heads at the Concours d’Elegance and on the auto show circuit in the coming months. It wouldn’t be impossible to put into production, but it would be extremely costly and Infiniti isn’t a brand known for building bespoke cars.