The SSC Tuatara Is Now the Fastest Car in the World at 316.11 MPH!

The SSC Tuatara Is Now the Fastest Car in the World at 316.11 MPH!

No one needs to go 280 or 300 mph. Almost no one has the space (or the courage required) to drive at these speeds. But everyone wants to know which car is the fastest. The keepers of this information at Guinness will tell you that in 2017 the Koenigsegg Agera RS at 277.9 mph wrested this record from the 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport at 267.9 mph. Well, on Saturday October 10, the famous publication’s record monitors gathered along a closed seven mile section of Highway 160 near Pahrump, Nevada, to watch a new record in the making, established by British Formula 1 driver Oliver Webb driving a supercar from Richland, Washington, the SSC Tuatara. The new speed? A narcotic 315.7 mph!

The two best tracks in opposite directions

The SSC team spent a week acclimating Webb to the car, starting on a 3,800-foot track reaching speeds of up to 204 and 205 mph; then scampered off a three-hour drive to a longer 7,000-foot track, where Webb managed to hit 270 mph, at which point the whole team felt comfortable giving the race a try. SSC North America founder Jarod Shelby (no connection to Carroll), who did almost all of the test drives before bringing Webb in for the recording, rode a shotgun for some of those races and was humbled by the comfort level of Webb’s F1 drivers in terms of being close to the end of the track before starting to brake. “I wonder, when the hell is he going to brake? He braked way later than I would have.


Then, on the morning of the big race, after a few modest 100mph passes to warm up the transmission, with crosswinds slightly below the 10mph limit the team had set, the team pulled out instrumented the car and sent Webb for his first performance.

This race reached 285 mph – comfortably above the official bogey 278 mph record. On his return he hit 301.07 mph – approaching the unofficial claims of 301 mph Hennessey Venom F5 and 304 mph Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, but neither of these periods has been officially observed by Guinness as a race average. in opposite directions in tight timing. for the wind. The crosswind was picking up, but Webb agreed to do one more race and just one more. This pass, replacing the 285 mph one, managed to reach 331.15 mph, for an official top speed of 316.11 mph (508.0 km / h). And Webb would have recognized that the car had more top speed, but it was as fast as it was comfortable.

What powers the fastest production car?

When we covered the SSC Tuatara in 2011, the plan was to upgrade to 7.0-liter the twin-turbo 6.4-liter V8 engine designed for the SSC Ultimate Aero, the predecessor of the Tuatara. But founder Jarod Shelby wanted to put a flat crank on the engine, and there just isn’t an engine this big to live in in a production car that can hit over 300 mph while still being drivable around town. or on a track. So in 2013, the 7.0-liter engine was discontinued in favor of a 5.9-liter version with a meticulously balanced crank and exotic engine mounts filled with a proprietary gel.

The engine is rated at 1,750 horsepower and 1,280 lb-ft of torque when running on E85 fuel (as was the case with the speed record – top speed is expected to drop to 295 mph when running on gasoline. 91-octane pump gasoline, dropping the rated power of 1,350 horsepower). The engine runs at 8,800 rpm and requires 11 different heat exchangers, including two for the dedicated air-to-water intercooler system, which is said to be capable of lowering air temperatures increased by 160 to 200 degrees. Four other radiators cool the engine, two cool the gearbox and one each takes care of engine oil, power steering and air conditioning. The gearbox, by the way, is a seven-speed automatic clutch manual transmission from CIMA / Automac Engineering, which has its basis in a helicopter transmission.

The aerodynamics of a car at 315.7 mph

The list of aero tricks is remarkably unremarkable. Naturally, there is a belly pan incorporating venturis which direct the air towards a rear diffuser while creating downforce, air curtains for the front wheels, small fins in front of the front wheels and modest ones. small rear fins. The drag coefficient is 0.279 and the front / rear aerodynamic balance remains constant at 37/63% from 150 to 312 mph. Air circulates so efficiently over the body of former Pininfarina designer Jason Castriota that with the side windows open at 200 mph, almost no air enters unless you stick your hand in to scoop it up. Italian Potio Engineering helped design the elaborate ducts that efficiently conduct air through all of these radiators and coolers, drawing on their extensive F1 simulation experience.

Not just a speed machine

As the speed record achievement makes headlines, Shelby is keen to point out that the Tuatara (named after a lizard native to New Zealand that is said to have the fastest molecular evolution of all living animals) is ahead. quite an everyday drive car designed to rip on a road course. The steering system provides evidence for this claim – it uses electricity to vary the ratio, but the assistance is purely hydraulic and it has its own oil cooler, which obviously could only be of use on a handling circuit, not on a seven mile arrow-straight closed highway. And one of the main drivers of the planar crank design was its unique sound signature. Shelby realizes that cars like this are emotional buys and need visceral sound to connect with buyers. He wanted something less screaming than a Ferrari, but also nothing like an American muscle car. The company worked with muffler experts to tune some low frequencies and ended up with a unique motor note.

A production car? For real?

After presentations at Pebble Beach in 2019 and at the Philadelphia Auto Show in February 2020, the first customer car has been delivered and there are plans to build 99 more at the company’s specially designed facility in Washington. We can’t wait to assess Shelby’s claims about the Tuatara’s prowess on the track. We will not test its maximum speed.

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