• The SSC Tuatara Isn’t 330-MPH Fast, But It Did Set a New Official Record

Here’s to hoping that there’s no controversy with this run

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The SSC Tuatara’s claim as the fastest production car in the world appears to finally have some legitimacy to it after the American hypercar clocked a record-setting, two-way average speed of 282.6 mph at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds that’s located on the premises of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The new attempt at the top speed record comes a few months after SSC came under heavy scrutiny for claiming that the Tuatara had reached a top speed of 331.1 mph. Inconsistencies with the videos that SSC released to the media led to people questioning the validity of SSC’s claims, to which the automaker responded by saying that it would attempt another record run. Well, that record run has happened, and unless SSC makes another monumental snafu in verifying the validity of this new record run, it does appear that the Tuatara hypercar is now the fastest production car in the world.

What’s the backstory behind the SSC Tuatara’s controversial 331-mph top speed run?

The SSC Tuatara Isn't 330-MPH Fast, But It Did Set a New Official Record
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Back on October 10, 2020, SSC brought the Tuatara hypercar to Nevada’s Route 160 with the goal of breaking the fastest production car record and taking that title away from the Koenigsegg Agera RS. It seemed like an improbable goal at best considering that the current record — 278 mph — that’s held by the Agera RS hadn’t been eclipsed in the required two-way average speed run despite many challengers having a go at it. But SSC was determined, and it believed that the Tuatara had the pace to unseat the Agera RS.

The SSC Tuatara Isn't 330-MPH Fast, But It Did Set a New Official Record
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After the dust had settled on Nevada’s Route 160, the SSC Tuatara had reached a top speed of 331 mph. Not only did it beat the Agera RS’s official record, but it did so in a demolition job for the ages. Needless to say, the auto world was abuzz from the news of the Tuatara’s record-setting run. It should’ve been SSC’s time to celebrate, but the celebrations were short-lived after pundits, bloggers, online personalities, and everyone who seemed to have an opinion on the matter called SSC out on the inconsistencies between the automaker’s claims and what actually happened during that run.

The blowback was severe enough that SSC head honcho Jerod Shelby admitted to the mistakes made by the automaker in presenting the new record.

He also vowed that the SSC Tuatara would do another top speed run to clean whatever stain was left from the hypercar’s very controversial run. It took three months, but Shelby finally made good on his promise. SSC took to the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to make history — the right kind of history.

Did the SSC Tuatara leave any doubts about its performance capabilities?

The SSC Tuatara Isn't 330-MPH Fast, But It Did Set a New Official Record
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The SSC Tuatara’s new top speed record will undoubtedly go through a lot of scrutiny after all the missteps SSC went through just to get to this point. For what it’s worth, though, SSC took to great lengths to make this run as valid as valid can be, including replacing racing driver Oliver Webb behind the wheel of the Tuatara with the owner of the Tuatara No. 001, Larry Caplin. Apart from switching drivers, SSC claims that it used above-board equipment to validate the Tuatara’s top speed runs. A Racelogic VBox was used, as well as equipment from Life Racing, Garmin, and even the International Mile Racing Association. That’s covering a lot of bases.

As prepared as SSC was for this run, none of it would’ve mattered if Caplin couldn’t beat the 277.9-mph two-way average top speed that Koenigsegg set with the Agera RS back in 2017. Fortunately for SSC, both driver and hypercar were up to the task. In the first direction run (northbound), Caplin set a top speed of 279.7 mph, barely beating the Agera RS’s two-way average top speed. Needing to hit 280.3 mph to beat the Koenigsegg hypercar’s world record, Caplin went the other way (southbound) and clocked a top speed of 286.1 mph, bringing the Tuatara’s two-way average top speed to 282.9 mph. The Tuatara’s top speed average still fell short of the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ prototype’s top speed of 304.77 mph, but since that speed was only achieved in one direction, it doesn’t count as an official record.

The SSC Tuatara Isn't 330-MPH Fast, But It Did Set a New Official Record Wallpaper quality
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So unless a new controversy arises from this record attempt, it does look like the SSC Tuatara is now the fastest production car in the world.

Kirby Garlitos
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 full bio
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