The fastest production car in the world title is more than just a pissing contest

The fastest production car in the world title is a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s nothing more than a vanity record, or a “legacy record,” as some would put it. It’s not something that regular car owners can do or even experience because of all the preparations — and dangers — that come in trying to set the record. On the other hand, it is a tangible record. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes it as a legitimate world record.

Naturally, there’s a lot of competition among the small group of automakers with cars that can lay claim to the record. The level of competition is fierce, folks. One car sets the record and, just as quickly, everyone tries to dissect the legitimacy of a record-setting run.

Take Koenigsegg, for example. The Agera RS currently holds the official record of the fastest production car in the world, but that hasn’t stopped rivals like Bugatti and Hennessey from claiming the record, even if the requirements to satisfy the validity of such a record aren’t met. Now you can throw SSC North America into that mix after its supercar, the Tuatara, supposedly setting an average top speed run of 331 mph. Now, it’s one thing to set a record, but it’s another thing to set a record that everyone recognizes. Koenigsegg didn’t take too kindly to the SSC Tuatara’s record-breaking top speed, proving yet again how important this “title” is to everyone who wants to claim it.

Koenigsegg's Just Proved How Important Having The Fastest Car in the World Is To Brands
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Take Koenigsegg, for example. The Agera RS currently holds the official record of the fastest production car in the world, but that hasn’t stopped rivals like Bugatti and Hennessey from claiming the record, even if the requirements to satisfy the validity of such a record aren’t met. Now you can throw SSC North America into that mix after its supercar, the Tuatara, supposedly setting an average top speed run of 331 mph.

What’s the genesis of this squabble?

2020 SSC Tuatara
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It’s not really a squabble in the traditional sense, but the fastest production car record once again made headlines after SSC made a speed run in the Tuatara hypercar and hit a ridiculous 316 mph in the car. Not only did the run blow past the Koenigsegg Agera RS’s existing world record of 277.9 mph, but it also destroyed the 304-mph, one-direction top speed that the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ set back in 2019. Just as that record was claimed, two things happened.

First, SSC touted its triumph, as anybody who just set the fastest production car in the world record is expected to do. The 1,750-horsepower hypercar averaged an incredible 316.11 mph following two runs in opposite directions on, ironically, the same stretch of road on Route 160 outside Las Vegas that the Agera RS set its 278-mph record. The Tuatara clocked a speed of 301.07 mph in its first run, which would’ve already bested the Agera RS’s top speed run. But that was just the appetizer.

2020 SSC Tuatara
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On its way back, the Tuatara recorded an incomprehensible 331.15 mph, pulling its top speed average up to a breathtaking 316.07 mph.

SSC North America event went to great lengths to legitimize the Tuatara’s top speed run. A pair of world-record sanctioned witnesses were brought in to very the run. A certified GPS measurement device was used during the event. The GPS device even tapped, on average, 15 satellites to accurately determine the Tuatara’s speed and acceleration. Everything looked on the up-and-up. Then it all fell apart.

Why was the top speed run so heavily scrutinized?

SSC hadn’t even finished its bottle of Macallan 30-Year when scrutiny behind the Tuatara’s record-smashing speed run started coming down from all directions. YouTube personality Shmee150 even made a video detailing the inconsistencies between what SSC shows on the screen of its top speed run with the Tuatara and the telemetry data. It wasn’t just Shmee, either. A cavalcade of criticism fell on SSC to the extent that the automaker had to come forward, admitting that the two videos it released of the Tuatara’s record-setting run included inaccurate information.

Specifically, SCC said that the data logger information in the video was overlaid at the incorrect point of the hypercar’s run, making it look inaccurate.

While it does seem like a valid reason, it does come with some semblance of stink considering the stakes at play. It didn’t help that even if SSC admitted that while the two videos had inaccurate information, the automaker remains steadfast that the Tuatara clocked the speeds that it did to blow the Agera RS’s top speed record out of the water.

How did Koenigsegg respond to all of this?

Koenigsegg's Just Proved How Important Having The Fastest Car in the World Is To Brands
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Did you think that Koenigsegg would be silent in the midst of all this controversy? In an ironic twist of fate, the Swedish automaker celebrated the three-year anniversary of the Agera RS’s record-setting top speed run and Koenigsegg didn’t waste any time congratulating itself on the accomplishment. In its entirety, the automaker said in a Facebook post:

“It’s been three years but we remember it like it was yesterday. The fastidious toil and incredible guts that went into the making of the top speed record of the world’s fastest production car with the Agera RS. Here’s celebrating the title a third year running and to an even more exciting road ahead!”

Notice that Koenigsegg didn’t even acknowledge SSC or the Tuatara in its post? There’s a lot of self-gratifying congratulations, specifically with regards to building “the world’s fastest production car” and celebrating the title “a third year running.”

For a company that’s known for its aggressive pursuit of pioneering feats in the auto industry, this was Koenigsegg showing off its passive-aggressive side.

Who owns the record?

Koenigsegg's Just Proved How Important Having The Fastest Car in the World Is To Brands Exterior Wallpaper quality
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For now, it’s still Koenigsegg’s record until SSC North America proves without a speck of doubt that the Tuatara really recorded an average top speed of 316 mph. The inconsistencies in the video that was supposed to prove the Tuatara’s dominance is now irrelevant, and even if the automaker says that the Tuatara hit 316 mph, no one’s going to believe it because of the data discrepancies.

To its credit, SSC isn’t taking the criticism lying down. Company founder Jerod Shelby announced in a video that the company is prepared to do a re-run to show that the Tuatara is, in fact, the fastest production car in the world. Shelby even invited personalities, including Shmee, to be on-hand to witness the re-run in order to leave any trace of doubt as to the Tuatara’s place in the ranking of the fastest production car in the world.

There’s no timetable on when this re-run is going to be or where it’s going to be held — the latter is probably the same stretch of road on State Route 160 just outside Las Vegas — but rest assured, a lot of people will be paying attention to what the Tuatara can do.

Do all of these things matter?

Koenigsegg's Just Proved How Important Having The Fastest Car in the World Is To Brands High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Here’s the thing. It’s easy to scoff at all of this and say that the fastest production car in the world title is nothing more than a chest-thumping record. While that is true in some respects, it’s also unfair to say that this record is all about that. That’s not the case. In so many words, records draw attention. They also draw money. A lot of money, particularly in this segment.

If an automaker like the SSC claims to have shattered the fastest production car record with the Tuatara, the hypercar instantly becomes the alpha amongst alphas in its segment. A lot of prestige comes with that honor, and, far too often, automakers milk that prestige for all that it’s worth, financially and otherwise. Bugatti did it to great success with the Veyron Super Sport. Koenigsegg did the same with the Agera RS, and it’ll continue to do so until the Tuatara, once and for all, takes its place as the fastest production car in the world.

When that will be is the million-dollar question.

Koenigsegg Agera RS specifications
Engine: twin-turbo, 5.0-liter V-8
Horsepower: 1,341 horsepower
Torque: 1,160 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 2.6 seconds
Top speed: 278 mph
Price: $2.5 million
Production: 25

Source: Koenigsegg

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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