If you ask me, we humans love achievement, even if it’s all for just a moment of recognition. A quick search on Google will reveal to you all kinds of world records broken by people all over the world. We’ve built the tallest buildings, worn the most socks on one foot, and even held records for the longest hugs.
The fastest car(s) in the world
The most recent feat was the breaking of the world’s top speed record by the SSC Tuatara. As you may know, Bugatti has been synonymous with being the fastest car for the longest time. The Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+, in particular, achieved a top speed of 304.77 mph last year making it the fastest car in the world.
It was, however, not given the crown because the car was only tested ‘one way’ and not the recommended two directional way. If you choose to go by that and ignore Bugatti, the official record holder becomes the Koenigsegg Agera RS which achieved a top speed of 277.87 mph in 2017.
That might not matter right now. At least that’s what I think. There’s a new champ in town and it’s none other than the SSC Tuatara. I’ll forgive you if you haven’t heard of SSC before. Car manufacturers have increased quite a lot in the last few years, especially in the supercar and sports car space which had been largely dominated by European manufacturers.
A little bit of background
SSC is an American company that was founded by Jerod Shelby, an engineer with a heart for cars and racing. The company was initially known as Shelby Supercars. The goal was simple – to design and build an American machine that could take on European models. The journey, however, wasn’t that easy.
Designing a successful supercar is often a process that takes years, money, and a lot of expertise. Jerod Shelby and his team were not oblivious of this. Under a heavy atmosphere of silence, they employed unimaginable amounts of engineering and automotive ingenuity to the project.
The first SSC champion
The result was the SSC Ultimate Aero which set a record top speed of 256.14 mph on September 13, 2007. You’d think the company would stop there. But no, the vision and resolve remained – to build another meticulous hypercar that would carry on the DNA of the Aero. It would reflect the determination and passion Shelby and his team harbored.
SSC went back to work on the current champion, the SSC Tuatara which is inspired by fighter jets that are used in the American aerospace. Years of work, calibrating, and testing produced a car ‘superior to any other hypercar’. But that’s subjective. A look around will reveal to you equally amusing and impressive hypercars built by other companies.
Back to the SSC Tuatara
So, what kind of engine gets a car moving as fast as a plane? At the heart of the Tuatara is a 5.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 1,750 horsepower. This, however, is when it’s sucking power from E85 – a type of non-race fuel that contains 51%-83% ethanol. When this is switched to 91 octane – commonly referred to as “Premium gas” – the hypercar manages about 1,350 horsepower.
A hefty win
The car weighs about 1,247 kilograms (2,750 pounds). And, I have to say, it’s always impressive how car manufacturers are able to move hefty automobiles that fast. The Tuatara ran to and fro the State Route 160 stretch of road in Las Vegas.
In its first run, it reached an impressive 301.07 mph (484.53 km/h) and a remarkable 331.15 mph (532.93 km/h) in its second run. This averaged 316.11 mph (508.73 km/h), which is the fastest a production car has ever gone in the history of mankind.
Delivered by a pro
You might be wondering (or not), who would be behind the wheel of a car going more than 500 km/h? Well, SSC picked none other than professional race car driver Oliver Webb. He was tasked with the heavy responsibility to beat previous records set by the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ and the Agera RS.
Webb said that even at a top speed of 331.15 mph, the hypercar still felt powerful and stable enough to go farther. You’d think it would wear out and slow down towards the end but according to Webb, it moved 20 mph (32 km/h) faster in the last 5 seconds and could have done even better were it not for the crosswinds.
Taking no chances
SSC North America did everything by the book. They did two runs on the road, both in opposite directions. They also employed the use of a GPS measurement device that had 15 satellites accurately monitoring and recording the acceleration and speed of the Tuatara. On top of that, there were two sanctioned witnesses present to clarify the events, as required by Guinness World Records.
You can also drive the SSC
SSC did not just build the Tuatara for breaking the record. They made sure that people can experience the fun and exhilarating performance of this rather ravishing hypercar. The only problem is, not very many will get to.
Only 100 units are to be produced and deliveries are already underway. Each model is priced at $1,625,000 and can get to as high as $1.9M for any that’s packed with the High Downforce Track Pack. They could all be booked already but if you have the money, try your luck.
And we wait
Since Bugatti retired last year from chasing the top speed record, the only other two companies that are left on the playing field are Koenigsegg and Hennessey. There might be more in the future and we await to see who breaks this record next.