The hotly-contested ‘world’s fastest production vehicle’ title has exchanged hands once again. On October 10 along a 11 km stretch of blocked-off tarmac on the State Route 160 just outside of Las Vegas, the SSC Tuatara piloted by racing driver Oliver Webb managed to set a two-way average speed of 508.73 km/h (316.11 mph), annihilating the previous record of 447.19 km (277.87 mph) held by the Koenigsegg Agera RS.
You may recall a certain Bugatti Chiron managing to break the magical 300 mph figure last year. There were a lot of debate whether it should be given the title of the world’s fastest production vehicle, as it did not meet the official criteria – by running the same route in both directions, among others – for the record to be counted. Either way, it doesn’t really matter now.
The average speed – which is the official record figure – does not tell the entire story too. During its two consecutive high-speed test runs, the SSC Tuatara actually reached a VMax of 532.93 km/h (331.15 mph), and driver Oliver Webb even says that there’s still more speed left in the car.
“As I approached 331 mph, the Tuatara climbed almost 20 mph within the last five seconds. It was still pulling well. As I told Jerod, the car wasn’t running out of steam yet. The crosswinds are all that prevented us from realizing the car’s limit.”
Aside from the world’s fastest production vehicle title, the SSC Tuatara also managed to improve additional speed records, previously held by the Agera RS. These include the “Fastest Flying Mile on a Public Road” at 503.92 km/h (313.12 mph), “Fastest Flying Kilometre on a Public Road” at 517.16 km/h (321.35 mph), and “Highest Speed Achieved on a Public Road” at 532.93 km/h (331.15 mph).
The complete attempt organised by SSC was also done in accordance to the official criteria for the record, which meant the Tuatara had to be a production vehicle identical to one that could be purchased by a customer with street tires and non-race fuel, driven on a public road in two opposite directions (within an hour), and have the speed tracked and averaged by a GPS measurement tool, verified by the on-site world record sanctioned officials.
This was not SSC North America’s first attempt at the coveted world’s fastest production car title. The boutique marquee previously held the record from 2007 to 2010 with its first production model, the Ultimate Aero. SSC CEO, Jerod Shelby said, “We came pretty close to meeting the theoretical numbers, which is astonishing to do in a real world setting on a public road. America’s new claim to victory in the ‘land-based space race’ is going to be tough to beat.”
It’s not like other’s won’t try, though. Koenigsegg will certainly strike back – or at least try – with their Jesko Absolut, while there’s also the Hennessey Venom F5 lurking around the corner. Bugatti meanwhile, has already officially retired from the race for top speed, so at least there’ll be one less contender.
The main contributor to the SSC Tuatara’s title is the twin-turbo 5.9-liter V8 flat-plane crank engine that makes 1,750 hp when fed with E85 ethanol, or 1,350 hp when powered by regular petrol. The V8 mill is mounted in the middle, and the whole car weighs just 1,247 kg dry, and boasts a drag coefficient of 0.279.
Production of the SSC Tuatara is capped at 100 cars and customer deliveries are underway, with pricing kicking off at USD1.6 million and maxing out at USD1.9 million for the fully kitted-out variant with the High Downforce Track Pack.