Wonder what that magical, be-winged beast from Nissan's commercial is? It's the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo car that Nissan plans to campaign in the World Endurance Championship's top LMP1 class. We've seen it running before, but it's finally here, revealed and in the flesh.
So, what about this car makes it so special? When we first got a look at the car back in December, we just about crapped our pants. Most Le Mans prototypes are mid-engined with the engine behind the driver. Nissan's prototype had a long snout that seemed to indicate that the engine would be ahead of the driver.
The last time a front-mid-engined prototype appeared in the top class at Le Mans, it was the Panoz LMP07, which experienced mixed results in competition. The last time a car with the engine ahead of the driver won at Le Mans was in 1962—over half a century ago! Conventional wisdom nowadays among the LMP1 faithful says that the engine goes behind the driver, and that anyone attempting to stick it elsewhere is either nuts or a genius like we've yet to see.
Nissan and Panoz had a nasty falling out over the DeltaWing, which makes rumors of a front-engined Nissan LMP1 all the more interesting. Bob Bowlby already wowed us with the design for the DeltaWing, so could he make a more reliable, more competitive front-engined car using lessons learned from that unconventional project?
We've stalked this car like a jealous ex ever since we first learned how different this design might be. When phone pics appeared of it running at Circuit of the Americas, no, no, those wouldn't do. We want details. When there are rumors of this car making over 2,000 horsepower, we want to know exactly what a 2,000-horsepower car looks like.
So, we took our own photos of the car running at COTA, and Mulsanne's Corner provided an excellent analysis of all the technical pieces he could identify in the pics. When Nissan finally released its first look at the prototype's rear, it looked familiar. At home. Like a good, old friend.
So, here is Nissan's crazy new LMP1 contender, in the flesh, running in this commercial. We can't wait to see this Batmobile-like design in competition. Will it be an interesting side experiment in prototype packaging, or will it actually be competitive against the likes of Audi and Toyota with their years of experience, and Porsche with their insane drive to win?
All we know now is this: it's unique, and this ad brought out all of the feels as part of Nissan's "With Dad" campaign. (Anybody else wince at that GT-R t-bone as the family is watching? On the driver's side, too? OUCH.) When they finally reveal Nissan's LMP1 contender, wow. Just wow. The livery is somewhat plain in Nismo red, but it features the unique shape of this car well. Look at the flames shooting out from the exhaust, which exits ahead of the driver on top of the hood.
This is also the first time I've seen a car run Circuit of the Americas backwards. I remember being tipped off that the camera crew had set up at the top of turn 1 right around the time the first cell phone photos appeared, but I had no idea that they would be running the car down that hill. Can we get that awesome ferris wheel set up in real life, too? Daytona has a good idea with that, you know.
We'll find out if the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo is as excellent as it looks on April 12, when the World Endurance Championship kicks off with the 6 Hours of Silverstone.