Report: SSC Tuatara Hypercar Makes Top-Speed Record Attempt
The Pahrump Valley Times is reporting that Highway 160 was shut down this past weekend by the Nevada Department of Transportation for what appears to be a high-speed run of the SSC Tuatara. While the company confirmed to MotorTrend that it has been conducting frequent high-speed testing of its cars as part of the Tuatara’s development process, SSC representatives have been mum on what exactly occurred in Nevada that resulted in a public road closure.
The first customer example of the $1.6 million Tuatara was delivered back in February after an extended gestation period of nearly a decade. The sheet metal is penned by former Pininfarina designer Jason Castriota, and power comes from a twin-turbocharged 5.9-liter V-8 with a flat-plane crankshaft. SSC claims this Nelson Racing Engine-sourced powerplant produces up to 1,750 horsepower and 1,280 lb-ft of torque—monumental figures by any standard.
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As far as rumors of SSC attempting a production-car top-speed record run are concerned, though, we’re left wondering if the Tuatara even qualifies to claim such a title. SSC claims its hypercar is capable of achieving a maximum velocity of more than 300 mph, which puts it in the ballpark to challenge the current top-speed aces. But here’s where things get a bit complicated: There are several methodologies by which to test a vehicle’s top speed. The Koenigsegg Agera RS’s 277.9-mph record was officiated by Guinness World Records. The figure was derived from the average speed of two independent runs, one in each direction.
(By the way, Guinness deems a “production” car as one with a planned run of at least 30 units. SSC plans to build 100 Tuataras.)
Other cars claim slightly different top-speed titles. Last year, Bugatti’s specially modified Chiron, the Super Sport 300+, claimed a 304.8-mph run on the famed Ehra-Lessien track, which the brand also used to take the Veyron Super Sport to 268.0 mph. But this run was certified by TÜV of Germany, which doesn’t require a vehicle to make two runs, one each in opposite directions.
We reached out to SSC North America to ask what was happening out in the desert, and here’s what company founder Jerod Shelby told us: “As you know, we’re always testing the Tuatara. Probably twice a week, we’ll shut down roads within 10 miles of our factory…to do high-speed testing.”
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While Shelby didn’t quite answer our question, we can’t ignore that his company is doing “high-speed testing” on the same stretch of highway on which the Agera RS posted its record-setting pass. Regardless, the real winners are sure to be the owners of the 100 Tuataras that SSC aims to build and sell.
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