Whether you’re after the world’s most expensive car or the fastest car, most people think of Bugatti. Although the McLaren F1 is still the fastest naturally-aspirated car, the Bugatti Chiron out-paces it. That hasn’t stopped automakers like Hennessey and Koenigsegg from trying to claim that title, though. However, reports out of Nevada seem to indicate that there’s a new record-holder: the SSC Tuatara.
What is the SSC Tuatara?
Although it’s been out of the limelight, the SSC Tuatara has been gunning for the ‘world’s fastest production car’ title for years. It’s a follow-up to the Ultimate Aero, which was briefly the fastest production car. And the Tuatara has the specs to give Bugatti a decent challenge. It’s just taken about a decade’s worth of development to get ready, Motor1 reports.
The SSC Tuatara has a mid-mounted 5.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 1750 hp and 1280 lb-ft, Automobile reports, if it’s run on E85. On 91-octane gasoline, power drops to ‘just’ 1350 hp. That’s sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed automated-manual transmission. And it’s all contained with a body and chassis made entirely out of carbon fiber, Top Gear reports.
As a result, the SSC Tuatara weighs 2750 pounds without fluids. SSC doesn’t quote the hypercar’s 0-60 time. But it can do 60-120 in just 2.5 seconds, Motor1 reports.
To control that level of speed and power, the SSC Tuatara has a few more performance-oriented features. Changing its driving mode from Sport (the default) to Track lowers the ride height for extra stability. It also deploys the rear wing. And SSC claims the Tuatara has a lower drag coefficient than the Bugatti Chiron, Koenigsegg Agera, and the Hennessey Venom F5.
And all of that is so it can break the 300 mph. Which, reportedly, it recently did.
Testing and record-breaking rumors
Over the weekend of October 10-11, 2020, the Nevada Department of Transportation shut down portions of Highway 160, the Parhump Valley Times reports. The road links Parhump and Las Vegas and achieved a level of Internet fame when the Koenigsegg Agera RS broke the production car speed record in 2017. And once again, it was being used for high-speed testing, this time for the SSC Tuatara.
That part is a matter of public record, as is SSC’s continued development and testing of the Tuatara, Motor Trend reports. However, CarScoops’ anonymous source claims the SSC Tuatara beat the Agera RS’ 277.87-mph record.
But is it the world’s fastest production car?
Officially, as of this writing, SSC has not confirmed these rumors. But even if it did beat the Agera RS, isn’t the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ the world’s fastest production car? The answer’s complicated.
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Yes, the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ hit 304.773 mph in testing, Car and Driver reports. And Bugatti sold 30 road-legal versions of the car that could achieve that speed, The Drive reports. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, that qualifies it as a production car.
However, as The Drive points out, that speed was only achieved during a one-way pass. For Guinness to officially recognize the record, the Chiron would have had to do 2 runs within a given timeframe. And it didn’t.
So, technically, the Agera RS is still officially the world’s fastest production car, Automobile reports. At least until Guinness can get out to Nevada again.
[UPDATE 10/19/2020 12:00 PM CST]: It’s official, the 2021 SSC Tuatara is the world’s fastest production car, Car and Driver reports. On October 10th, 2020, Oliver Webb drove the car to a GPS-verified speed of 331.15 mph, and a 2-way average of 316.11 mph.
As of this writing, the record hasn’t been officially validated by Guinness, but the run was performed in accordance with the organization’s requirements.
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