SSC has reclaimed the title of world’s “fastest production vehicle,” with the 1 305 kW Tuatara registering an average speed of 508,73 km/h.
In September 2019, Bugatti said it had “withdrawn” from the so-called speed wars after it became the first manufacturer to break the 300 mph barrier, with a "near-production" prototype of the Chiron clocking 490,484 km/h (albeit only in one direction).
Now, however, US-based SSC has set a new speed record, achieved earlier in October 2020 along an 11 km stretch of State Route 160 outside of Las Vegas near Pahrump, Nevada.
With racing driver Oliver Webb at the wheel, the SSC Tuatara managed an average speed of 508,73 km/h following two consecutive high-speed runs of 484,53 km/h and 532,93 km/h. To claim the record (which was actually previously held by the Koenigsegg Agera RS at 447,19 km/h), the Tuatara was required to run in both directions, clocking its respective speeds within one hour.
“It’s been ten years since we held this record with our first car, the Ultimate Aero, and the Tuatara is leagues ahead. Its performance reflects the dedication and focus with which we pursued this achievement,” said Jerod Shelby, CEO of SSC.
“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.”
The company says it will produce 100 units of the Tuatara, each powered by a “bespoke” twin-turbo 5,9-litre flat-plane crank V8 engine producing 1 305 kW on E85 fuel and 1 007 kW on 91 octane.
Webb said “there was definitely more in there”.
“With better conditions, I know we could have gone faster. As I approached 331 mph [533 km/h], the Tuatara climbed almost 20 mph [32 km/h] 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,” the driver said.