• Get Up Close and Intimate with the SSC Tuatara - A Car That Could Break the 300-MPH Barrier

Let’s hope it won’t take another seven years to see it in production

The SSC Tuatara is one of those cars that have been in the works for so long that most people have actually forgotten about it. Now, the buzz is going again and, after seeing a prototype on the road in December, we drool over footage of the hypercar sitting still and revving its 5.9-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-8 engine. Let’s hope it will finally be available to buy sometime in 2019, with or without the bragging rights of having broken the 300 mph barrier.

SSC, formerly known as Shelby SuperCars, first unveiled the Tuatara Concept on the lawn of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance back in 2011. Last year, SSC came back with an almost unchanged car which was, actually, the production version. The Tuatara has since made a few more public appearances, and the latest is at a dealer in Connecticut where it was filmed by youtuber WVM3DreamDrives and, frankly, it looks fantastic in that polar white color.

Here’s a Challenge: Find a Bad Angle on the Tuatara!

SSC, the company founded by Jerod Shelby 20 years ago, is famous for creating the Ultimate Aero TT, a car that held the title of the fastest car in the world for nigh on three years, between 2007 and 2010. Now, Shelby says that the Aero’s replacement is the most credible car to reach 300 mph. For the record, the current fastest production car is the Agera RS with the 1.342 horsepower 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine which helped it reach a speed of 277.87 mph in November 2017.

The Tuatara, meanwhile, will have more power and should go faster. But, before we dip a bit into the technicalities, let’s just look at it. With its swooping nose, elongated headlights that are continued by angled air intakes, and pointy nose that hovers above a much bigger mouth, the Tuatara is a beauty. Many hypercars we see nowadays have gone the way of extreme body kits with outlandish wings, innumerable air inlets, and many cuts and creases. That’s all great since a subtle hypercar is like a tank painted in pink, it makes no sense.

Get Up Close and Intimate with the SSC Tuatara - A Car That Could Break the 300-MPH Barrier
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But you can’t argue that the clean profile of the Tuatara is gorgeous in its simplicity. There’s nothing inherently over the top here, minus some winglets that sprout from the B-pillar to connect with the air inlet positioned on the top of the rear quarter panels and a couple more winglets that extend towards the trailing edge of the fenders like on a Ferrari FXX-K but a bit more subtle.

So, at least to me, the Tuatara is one of the prettiest hypercars and a huge leap

forward compared to the Ultimate Aero TT which looked dated from the word go.

The reptile-named machine packs a 5.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, less than the originally-advertised 6.9-liters, that produces 1,350 horsepower on 91 octane gas. According to SSC, power jumps up to 1,500 horsepower on 91/E85 mix while on E85 alone the figure moves up further to a frightening 1,750 horsepower.

We’ve already seen the engine of the Tuatara, but you can’t be sure of its actual performance until it’s inside the car and the car drives down a piece of road long enough to test its top speed. At the moment, SSC states that a 0 to 62 mph time of 2.5 seconds is projected while a quarter mile run takes just 9.75 seconds which is about as fast as a McLaren 720S that has only 710 horsepower. Granted, the McLaren ran on aftermarket Toyo rubber.

Motor Authority was told by SSC that the car is stretching its legs in testing as the engineers have gone over "the newly designed sub-assemblies, including NVH/ride quality/comfort, suspension design/geometry for multiple driving modes and hydraulic controlled ride heights, cooling systems, and the electronic steering system." All this is in preparation for the car’s debut that’s scheduled for mid-2019.

Get Up Close and Intimate with the SSC Tuatara - A Car That Could Break the 300-MPH Barrier
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As mentioned, SSC's claim to fame is building the first American hypercar which also happened to be the fastest production car.

Over a decade ago, the Aero in its top Ultimate TT specification, blatantly posing with its Focus headlights, reached 256 mph thanks to a 6.35-liter twin-turbocharged pushrod V-8 based on the block of the Corvette C5.R race car. Later on, Bugatti brought the record back home with its Veyron Super Sports while Hennessey managed 270.49 mph, 12 more than the Bugatti’s average, over a single run with the Venom GT back in 2014.

Now, Hennessey is working tirelessly on the Venom GT’s replacement, the Venom F5. First presented at the 2017 edition of the SEMA Show, the F5 has a refreshingly good-looking body and Hennessey say its 7.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 produces 1,600 horsepower, enough for a 301 mph projected top speed through a V-MAX speed-tracking system. Oh, and did I mention it also boasts 1,300 pound-feet of torque?

What’s clear is that the battle to reach 300 mph is hotting up and, until any of these manufacturers or, indeed, others, rise to occasion and actually put their works of art to the test, all we can do is wait and, well, listen to the nice idling noise of the Tuatara’s V-8. Enjoy!

Further reading

2019 SSC Tuatara
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Read our full review on the 2019 SSC Tuatara.

2014 SSC Tuatara Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2014 SSC Tuatara.

2007 SSC Ultimate Aero TT
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Read our full review on the 2019 Hennessey Venom F5.

Source: Auto Blog

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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