SSC North America's Tuatara hypercar is the new world's fastest production vehicle, averaging an astounding maximum speed of 316.11 miles per hour over two runs on a closed public road last week in Nevada. SSC ran its tests according to Guinness World Record specifications, but the results have yet to be officially certified by the organization. The Tuatara reclaims the title once held by SSC's 256 mph Ultimate Aero TT a decade ago.
To qualify as the world's fastest production car, the car needs to be of production spec -- identical to what you can buy today -- running street tires and nonrace fuel. In the Tuatara's case, that means a 5.9-liter twin-turbo V8 sending 1,750 horsepower to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automated manual transmission, a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and honed aerodynamics that balance a low 0.279 drag coefficient with plentiful downforce to keep things planted and stable at insane speeds.
It also means a $1,625,000 starting price with fully optioned examples reaching nearly $2 million -- "production car" doesn't necessarily mean mass production.
On Oct. 10, driver Oliver Webb piloted the Tuatara along a closed seven-mile stretch of Nevada State Route 160 outside of Las Vegas near the town of Pahrump. The record averages two consecutive runs -- in opposite directions to account for wind and road grade -- tracked by certified GPS measurement and witnessed by two world-record sanctioned witnesses for verification.
Multiple runs were made, building speed over the course of the day. After a warm-up, the first recorded run reached 287 mph. After a cool down and reset, a second run of 301 mph was recorded, bringing the average to an already record-setting 294 mph. The driver and SSC's support team believed the car had a bit more speed left in it, but strong crosswinds would ultimately prove to be the limiting factor of the day.
"The thing we're most proud of is the aerodynamic balance at all speeds," SSC CEO Jarod Shelby told Roadshow during an interview leading up to the announcement. "The car was extremely stable under acceleration, but out in the middle of the desert, you get hit with these blasts of wind and it's a concern for safety."
As the winds began to pick up, the team decided to have one more go. During this last run, Shelby tells us that Webb was hit with one of those "big blasts of wind" that shunted the Tuatara laterally onto a rumble strip at the road's edge. It was a close call and SSC decided to call it quits after confirming a top speed of 331.15 mph for the run. Averaged with the previous pass, this fastest attempt of the day cemented the new record at 316.11 mph.
"There was definitely more in there. And with better conditions, I know we could have gone faster," said Webb after that last run. "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 new record, should it be certified, will replace the 277.87 mph average set by the 1,341-horsepower Koenigsegg Agera RS in November 2017. It's also higher than the 304.77 mph boasted by a Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300 Plus preproduction prototype during a single-direction top speed run in 2019.
The SSC Tuatara's performance also set record-breaking speeds for "fastest flying mile on a public road" at 313.12 mph, "fastest flying kilometer on a public road" at 321.35 mph and "highest speed achieved on a public road" at 331.15 mph.