SSC dethrones Bugatti as Tuatara hypercar sets record speed of 331mph


American car brand SSC has been confirmed as setting a new world record top speed for a production vehicle when its Tuatara hypercar clocked 331mph outside Las Vegas earlier this month, toppling the much-debated previous claim of Bugatti’s Chiron.

The average speed clocked over two runs saw a recorded 316.11mph, which beats Bugatti’s previous best of 304.77mph, which has been in question having only been clocked in one direction last year.

The Tuatara’s two efforts were clocked at 301.07mph and 331.15mph on the morning of Saturday 10 October near Pahrump, Nevada, along a closed seven-mile stretch of State Route 160 – also setting new records for the fastest flying mile, flying kilometre and highest speed achieved on a public road. 

The world's fastest car: The Shelby SuperCar (SSC) Tuatara set a record production vehicle top speed of 316mph earlier this month in America, clocking a massive 331mph on one of two runs

The world’s fastest car: The Shelby SuperCar (SSC) Tuatara set a record production vehicle top speed of 316mph earlier this month in America, clocking a massive 331mph on one of two runs

To make its attempt as credible as possible, SSC – which stands for Shelby SuperCars, though founder Jerod Shelby is no relation to famed American car designer Carroll Shelby – claims the vehicle used is one of the 100 production models to be produced, and the runs were conducted using street tyres and non-race fuel.  

At the wheel was Manchester-born racing driver Oliver Webb, and the speeds he reached in the hypercar were measured by 15 GPS satellites. 

In accordance with record criteria, the Tuatara traveled in opposite directions, clocking its speeds within one hour, to break the world record for ‘Fastest Production Vehicle’.

Officials were on site to verify all world record criteria was met.

The Tuatara’s record isn’t the first time SSC has gone for the Bugatti jugular, taking the same title from the iconic French manufacturer in 2007 when it’s Ulitmate Aero hypercar set a new record of 257.41mph, which dethroned the Bugatti Veyron’s previous record from 2005 of 253.81mph.

SSC founder and CEO Jerod Shelby (left) - no relation to famed US car designer Carroll Shelby - posing with British racing driver Oliver Webb (right), who was at the wheel for the high-speed run

SSC founder and CEO Jerod Shelby (left) – no relation to famed US car designer Carroll Shelby – posing with British racing driver Oliver Webb (right), who was at the wheel for the high-speed run

The average speed clocked over two runs saw a recorded 316.11mph, which topples Bugatti's previous best of 304.77mph, which has been in question having only been clocked in one direction last year

The average speed clocked over two runs saw a recorded 316.11mph, which topples Bugatti’s previous best of 304.77mph, which has been in question having only been clocked in one direction last year

The Tuatara's two efforts were clocked at 301.07mph and 331.15mph on the morning of Saturday 10 October near Pahrump, Nevada, along a seven-mile stretch of State Route 160

The Tuatara’s two efforts were clocked at 301.07mph and 331.15mph on the morning of Saturday 10 October near Pahrump, Nevada, along a seven-mile stretch of State Route 160

‘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. 

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‘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 Tuatara was first announced in 2011, though the production-ready hypercar wasn’t shown until the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. No official price has yet to be confirmed, though Shelby claimed back in 2013 it would ring in at around $1.3million (£1million).

The Tuatara now also holds records for the fastest flying mile on a public road, fastest flying kilometre on a public road and highest speed achieved on a public road

The Tuatara now also holds records for the fastest flying mile on a public road, fastest flying kilometre on a public road and highest speed achieved on a public road

The SCC Tuatara has a twin-turbo charged 5.9-litre V8 engine, producing a massive 1,750bhp on E85 ethanol fuel, or a lesser 1,350bhp using 91 octane unleaded

The SCC Tuatara has a twin-turbo charged 5.9-litre V8 engine, producing a massive 1,750bhp on E85 ethanol fuel, or a lesser 1,350bhp using 91 octane unleaded

The hypercar has one of the fastest-shifting transmissions ever, with the seven-speed roboticised CIMA 'box capable of changing gear in less than 100 milliseconds using the paddles behind the steering wheel

The hypercar has one of the fastest-shifting transmissions ever, with the seven-speed roboticised CIMA ‘box capable of changing gear in less than 100 milliseconds using the paddles behind the steering wheel

In order to set such an apoplectic top speed, the Tuatara has a twin-turbo charged 5.9-litre V8 engine, producing a massive 1,750bhp on E85 ethanol fuel, or a lesser 1,350bhp using 91 octane unleaded.

Records set by the the SSC Tuatara 

– Fastest Production Vehicle at 316.11mph  

– Fastest Flying Mile on a Public Road at 313.12mph

– Fastest Flying Kilometer on a Public Road at 321.35mph

Highest Speed Achieved on a Public Road at 331.15mph 

Unlike rival hypercars, all the power is sent only to the rear wheels, putting enormous stresses through the rubber fitted to the back wheels. 

It also has one of the fastest-shifting transmissions ever put into a road car, with the seven-speed roboticised CIMA ‘box capable of changing gear in less than 100 milliseconds.

It is built on a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, and the lightweight material is also used for the car’s body. As a result, it tips the scales at a mere 1,247 kilogram – which is around the same bulk as a Ford Fiesta supermini.

Because no vehicle can be deemed a hypercar unless it has crazy doors, the ones on the Tuatara are dihederal – though they’re power operated, opening and closing at the push of a button.

Despite hitting an incredible speed of 331mph on a closed public road, Webb claims the Tuatara could have gone even quicker.

‘There was definitely more in there. And with better conditions, I know we could have gone faster,’ the British driver, who competes in the FIA World Endurance series, said. 

‘As I approached 331 mph, the Tuatara climbed almost 20mph 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 realising the car’s limit.’

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In order to set a record fastest speed, attempting cars and their maker’s need to adhere to a number of strict rules. 

Because no vehicle can be deemed a hypercar unless it has crazy doors, the ones on the Tuatara are dihederal - though they're power operated, opening and closing at the push of a button

Because no vehicle can be deemed a hypercar unless it has crazy doors, the ones on the Tuatara are dihederal – though they’re power operated, opening and closing at the push of a button

Unlike rival hypercars, all the power is sent only to the rear wheels, putting enormous stresses through the rubber fitted to the back wheels

Unlike rival hypercars, all the power is sent only to the rear wheels, putting enormous stresses through the rubber fitted to the back wheels

It is the second time SSC has held the record for the Fastest Production Car in the world. In previously took the title in 2007 with the Ultimate Aero, which also took the crown from Bugatti, with the Veyron setting the record in 2005

It is the second time SSC has held the record for the Fastest Production Car in the world. In previously took the title in 2007 with the Ultimate Aero, which also took the crown from Bugatti, with the Veyron setting the record in 2005

The vehicle used must be a production vehicle, so identical to cars customers will be able to purchase using conventional fuel and road tyres.

I know we could have gone faster… 

Oliver Webb, SSC Tuatara test driver 

The recorded speed must be clocked while driving the same route in opposite directions.

These runs should also be conducted within an hour of each other and the average of the top speeds for each used as the quoted land-speed figure achieved. 

This is in order to take into account the wind and road grade that may have favored the vehicle as travelling in only one direction – a stipulation Bugatti didn’t adhere to in 2019 when it tried to stake claim to the title for the Chiron Supersport

In order to be recognised as the fastest production car, the vehicle used must be identical to cars customers will be able to purchase using conventional fuel and road tyres

In order to be recognised as the fastest production car, the vehicle used must be identical to cars customers will be able to purchase using conventional fuel and road tyres

The US hypercar is built on a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, and the lightweight material is also used for the car's body. As a result, it tips the scales at a mere 1,247 kilogram - which is around the same bulk as a Ford Fiesta supermini

The US hypercar is built on a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, and the lightweight material is also used for the car’s body. As a result, it tips the scales at a mere 1,247 kilogram – which is around the same bulk as a Ford Fiesta supermini 

The Tuatara was first announced in 2011, though the production-ready hypercar wasn't shown until the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Just 100 will be made, each expected to cost in the region of £1million

The Tuatara was first announced in 2011, though the production-ready hypercar wasn’t shown until the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Just 100 will be made, each expected to cost in the region of £1million

Bugatti’s Chiron Supersport top speed run and why its claim for fastest road car was thrown into question 

Iconic French brand Bugatti staked claim to the world's top speed for a production car in August last year. However, it was found to have failed to adhere to rules for setting land speed records

Iconic French brand Bugatti staked claim to the world’s top speed for a production car in August last year. However, it was found to have failed to adhere to rules for setting land speed records 

Bugatti announced it had smashed through the 300mph barrier in a road car on 2 August 2019 – the first time any manufacturer has officially accomplished the feat in a type-approved model that can legally be used on the street.

Its modified and tuned £4.2million Chiron Supersport 300+ hypercar – with Briton Andy Wallace at the wheel – was clocked at a speed of 304.77mph at a test track in Germany, beating the previous record set two years ago by almost 27mph.

But while the speed run was verified by the TÜV, Germany’s Technical Inspection Association, the legitimacy of the achievement has been cast into doubt.

That’s because The Guinness Book of World Records refuses to acknowledged Bugatti’s figure – and it’s all because of one major technicality.

The awarding body stipulates that a land speed figure is only eligible if it has been set over two runs on the same course in opposite directions within an hour of each other. 

An average of the highest speeds hit in both directions is then taken as the final figure. 

Bugatti’s problem is that the 304.77mph speed measured at the Volkswagen Group’s test circuit at Ehra-Lessien in Germany was only set driving in one direction.

The car maker said it couldn't use the VW test track in both directions due to safety concerns, as decades of vehicles careering around the test track in a clockwise direction had modified the tarmac

The car maker said it couldn’t use the VW test track in both directions due to safety concerns, as decades of vehicles careering around the test track in a clockwise direction had modified the tarmac

The car maker said this was a safety call, as decades of vehicles careering around the test track in a clockwise direction has modified the tarmac.

It said a run in the opposite direction would go against the grain of the surface, which could cause the tyres to overheat.

With very little in terms of run-off areas – and banked curves at the end of the straights – the hypercar brand says it was restricted by the limits of its own test facility. 

It meant that Koenigsegg was officially still recognised by Guinness as holding the record road car speed of 277.87mph, set in an Agera RS in 2017, before SSC’s attempt this month.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Koenigsegg Agera RS as the fastest road car on the planet, with a speed of 277.87mph set in 2017 over two runs in Nevada

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Koenigsegg Agera RS as the fastest road car on the planet, with a speed of 277.87mph set in 2017 over two runs in Nevada

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