The rising gas prices have been impacting all of us for many years, but the world of racing seemed almost immune to these price hikes for many years. Well, with the price of fuel teetering in the $4-per-gallon range, even racing circuits are feeling the pinch at the pump. With this pinch and racing series also wanting to become more eco-friendly, they have almost all been looking into ways to modify their cars to fit this mold.

IndyCar and F1 have been at the forefront of these changes, and these changes spawned the birth of the DeltaWing in an attempt to infiltrate IndyCar in 2003. The DeltaWing was ultimately rejected by IndyCar, but its developers didn’t stop there, as they slowly worked toward getting it a spot in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which it finally achieved in 2012. The Nissan DeltaWing, unfortunately, did not finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but its strong start did show that it had definite potential.

Now with the DeltaWing scheduled to run in the 2013 American Le Mans Series and taking home fifth place in the 2012 Petite Le Mans, the DeltaWing and its builders are well on their way of realizing their dreams. So what makes the DeltaWing so great?

Click past the jump to read our full review and learn what makes this odd-looking racecar so special.

Body and Chassis

2012 Nissan DeltaWing High Resolution Exterior
- image 443224

The Nissan DeltaWing boasts one of the oddest-shaped bodies in racing history, as it features a long and thin nose backed up by a wing-like back end. This shape is to obviously keep the air drag to a minimum and the weight as low as possible. It definitely achieved the drag goal, as its coefficient of drag is only 0.35.

The entire body – tub and body panels – is made of a carbon composite and its chassis is an FIA-homologated carbon-fiber monocoupe. This construction helps keep the DeltaWing’s weight as low as possible, as it weighs just 475 kg (1,047 lbs) when empty and 575 kg (1,267 lbs) with the driver and fuel. A body this light requires loads of downforce to keep it planted to the road at high speeds, and the DeltaWing provides plenty of this, thanks to its twin-vortex underbody downforce system with 75 percent of the downforce’s power on the rear axle.

2012 Nissan DeltaWing High Resolution Exterior
- image 443220

The DeltaWing measures in at 4.65 meters (183.07 inches) long, 1.03 meters (40.55 inches) tall, 2.08 meters (81.88 inches) wide on the rear, and 0.76 meters (29.92 inches) wide on the front. 72 percent of the DeltaWing’s weight is centered over the rear axle, giving it a less-than-ideal ratio, but with the massive 1.74-meter (68.5-inch) rear track, the back end stays planted to the ground.

Body and Chassis Specifications:

Body Construction Carbon Composite
Chassis Construction Carbon-Fiber Monocoupe
Weight 475 kg (1,047 lbs) Empty / 575 kg (1,267 lbs) Race-Ready
Dimensions 4.65 Meters (183.07 Inches) Long X 1.03 Meters (40.55 Inches) Tall X 2.08 Meters (81.88 Inches) Wide (Rear) X 0.76 Meters (29.92 Inches) Wide (Front)
Weight Distribution 28 percent (front)/72 percent (rear)

Engine and Drivetrain

2012 Nissan DeltaWing Exterior
- image 443215

What drives this odd racecar is a 1.6-liter Nissan-sourced engine with direct injection and a turbocharger strapped to it. This setup features a 50 mm diameter throttle body, borrowed from a Nissan Juke, and a drive-by-wire system, which eliminates the need for an accelerator cable. Sitting atop the 91 kg (200-pound) 4-banger engine is a high-flow, tumble-port cylinder head with a diamond-like-coated and nano-finished camshaft. This compact, lightweight engine pumps out 300 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 310 Nm (228 pound-feet) of torque between 4,000 and 6,750 rpm. The horsepower is awesome, but the torque is a little low for our liking.

The engine hooks up to a 5-speed sequential gearbox tied to an electrically actuated direct-barrel-rotation paddle shift interface. The transmission connects to the engine’s flywheel via a 4.5-inch two-plate carbon clutch. Equal-length, tripod-jointed axle shafts ship the power to the rear wheels.

All of this technology adds up to a 0-to-100 km/h (62 mph) time of just 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph).

Engine and Drivetrain Specifications:

Engine 1.6-Liter, 4-Cylinder Turbocharged w/ Direct Injection
Engine Horsepower 300 Horsepower at 7,40 rpm
Engine Torque 310 Nm (228 Pound-Feet) at 4,000 and 6,750 rpm
Transmission 5-Speed Sequential w/ Paddle shift
Drive Style Rear-Wheel Drive
Acceleration (0-to-100 km/h [62 mph]) 3.3 Seconds
Top Speed 315 km/h (196 mph)

Handling and Braking

2012 Nissan DeltaWing Exterior
- image 443211

Up front, the DeltaWing has 4130 heat-treated tubular-steel double-wishbone suspension with coil-over shocks. The rear is also a double-wishbone setup and features pushrod coil-over shocks and a fulcrum arm on the rear anti-roll bar to limit heave and roll. The steering system features a bevel-quadrant steering box without power assist for more precise track feel.

On the front corners, the DeltaWing features a set of 15-by-4-inch rims wrapped in 10/31/15 Michelin tires. At the rear, you have 310/620/15 Michelin tires wrapped around 15-by-12.5-inch rims. The rims are made from forged magnesium to help keep the unsprung weight as low as possible, thereby increasing the DeltaWing’s handling characteristics.

2012 Nissan DeltaWing Exterior
- image 443207

The front brakes feature 280 mm (11-inch) X 18 mm (0.71-inch) ventilated PFC carbon discs squeezed by 4-piston, aluminum monobloc calipers. The rear is stopped via PFC carbon 320 mm (12.6-inch) X 25 mm (0.98-inch) ventilated rotors and 4-piston aluminum calipers.

Braking and Handling Specifications:

Front Suspension 4130 Heat-Treated Tubular-Steel Double-Wishbone Suspension w/ Coil-Over Shocks
Rear Suspension Double-Wishbone w/ Pushrod Coil-Over Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar and Fulcrum Arm
Wheels 15 X 4 Inches (Front) and 15 X 12.5 Inches (Rear) Forged Magnesium
Tires 10/31/15 Michelin (Front) and 310/620/15 Michelin (Rear)
Front Brakes 280 mm (11-Inch) X 18 mm (0.71-Inch) Ventilated PFC Carbon Discs w/ 4-Piston, Aluminum Monobloc Calipers
Rear Brakes 320 mm (12.6-Inch) X 25 mm (0.98-Inch) Ventilated PFC Carbon Rotors w/ 4-Piston Aluminum Calipers
Braking Bias 40 Percent Front / 60 Percent Rear


Though the DeltaWing is pretty much untested in the racing world – it has only finished one big race (Petit Le Mans) – we really think this machine has the potential to revolutionize the racing world. Will the DeltaWing step in and dominate the world of racing? It absolutely will not. It will, however, spawn more models like it and eventually these types of small-displacement, low-emission, low-consumption engines will overtake the larger engines we see in racing today. A lot of the success of this revolution will bank on the Delta Wing’s success in the ALMS.

We’ll keep you updated on the DeltaWing’s performance throughout the 2013 ALMS season.

2012 Nissan DeltaWing High Resolution Exterior
- image 443228
  • Leave it
    • Needs more torque to really compete
    • Untested in real-life competition
    • Too lightweight for competition and easily knocked off-track.
Justin Cupler
Justin Cupler
About the author
What do you think?
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  (305) posted on 10.23.2012

this is the wind of change. in a few years time it may be a true movement across the race car engineers.

  (312) posted on 10.23.2012

it sound like a special operation car. and when you see it, you realize how much of a special car it really is.

  (302) posted on 10.23.2012

i love the fresh air this car brings. thinking outside the box is good, even better if it pays off.

  (305) posted on 10.23.2012

this looks like something my son would draw. but then again, who sais those engineers are not childern in their souls?

  (452) posted on 10.23.2012

tinur, you may be right. more torque would be better. but then again, this is a 1.6 liter engine that outputs 300 HP on a 475 kg car. i still think it sounds good!

  (422) posted on 10.23.2012

@brad: all the power is nothing if you do not have the torque to put it on the track. and this car lacks a bit of torque.

  (452) posted on 10.23.2012

475 kg without a driver and fuel is simply amazing. and 300 HP may not sound much, but for that weight, it is!

  (542) posted on 10.23.2012

@john: this car has lots of down force. so that tiny front is well planted on the ground, ensuring great grip.

  (475) posted on 10.23.2012

the design of this car and the engineering of it ensure lots of down-force. i like the way this car looks.

  (509) posted on 10.23.2012

i wonder how well does this car corner. its front looks so small and it looks like it may not have enough grip.

  (542) posted on 10.23.2012

this sure looks like a bat mobile. not the recent one, that is a tank, but the old ones. interesting.

  (516) posted on 10.23.2012

all i can say for now is that this car is innovative. and as to all new things i am reluctant at first. we will see.

  (445) posted on 04.17.2012

The eccentric appearance of this is its only distinct attraction. I wouldn’t give it too much credit for its power.

  (570) posted on 04.16.2012

This reminds me of that other car with very bizarre appearance, which can’t be even called an automotive. At least, this one actually runs.

  (444) posted on 04.13.2012

I understand why they wouldn’t distribute this. LOL. Would you really expect this to take over the roads?

  (595) posted on 04.12.2012

I hate stuffs like this. Even if you prove and show off that you can create innovations of this higher kind, it’s sort of worthless if it won’t be out for production.

  (613) posted on 03.30.2012

Based on its looks, you can tell that this has an aerodynamic feature. A rocket certainly is fast.

  (580) posted on 03.30.2012

This would be a hit among the enthusiasts who love eccentric cars. They’d be more astounded if they found out its performance capability too.

  (401) posted on 03.22.2012

It has such an odd appearance. I thought it would be superb, but I was wrong. The performance seems common in supercars.

  (452) posted on 03.21.2012

@Tristan I agree on what you said; some companies have built aggressive looking cars, but when it comes to performance, they’re really weak.

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