What Happened to the SSC Tuatara, the Next Fastest Car in the World?
Although they may not be as well known as their European brothers, some of the fastest supercars in the world are made in America. In fact, from 2007-2010, the car that claimed the highly coveted title of fastest production car in the world wasn’t Italian or Swiss, or even European. Nope, the fastest car in the world for three years in a row was American-made, and it went by the name SSC Ultimate Aero.
Sadly, as is true for all good things, the Ultimate Aero’s run as fastest car in the world came to an end in 2010, thanks to Bugatti’s Veyron Super Sport. However, since that time, SSC — the company behind the Ultimate Aero — has said it’s working on a new car, the SSC Tuatara, which could reclaim the title of fastest car in the world. Unfortunately, since 2013, SSC hasn’t said anything official about the car, which has us asking the question, “What ever happened to the SSC Tuatara?”
Founded in 1999, it took SSC years to develop the Ultimate Aero. But, when it was finally released in 2007, the Ultimate Aero was a smashing success and almost immediately took home the title of World’s Fastest Production Car as verified by Guinness World Records — and it’s easy to see how it accomplished this feat.
With a body made from carbon fiber and a composite steel frame, the latest iteration of the Ultimate Aero has a curb weight of approximately 2,800 pounds. Further, it had a twin turbo V8 engine that produced 1,287 horsepower, and 1,112 pound-feet of torque. This allows the Ultimate Aero to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mind-numbing 2.78 seconds.
Additionally, the Ultimate Aero has a tested top speed of 257.41 miles per hour, a projected top speed of 273 miles per hour, and a coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.357, according to SSC. Finally, thanks to its 2.14 pounds per horsepower, the Ultimate Aero also set the record for weight-to-horsepower ratio. In other words, the Ultimate Aero is blindingly fast.
Because SSC has been touting the Tuatara since 2011, there’s a fair amount known about the highly anticipated predecessor to the Ultimate Aero. The Tuatara, like the Ultimate Aero, will have a similar curb weight, and is said to feature a twin-turbo V8.
However, the Tuatara’s engine will produce more power — 1,350 horsepower and 1,280 pound-feet of torque. Hypothetically, SSC believes this will propel the Tuatara from zero to 60 miles per hour in anywhere from 2.3 to 2.5 seconds — for comparison’s sake, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport features an 8.0-liter W16 quad-turbo engine that produces 1,200 horsepower, which propels the supercar from zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds.
Additionally, the Tuatara will have a Cd of 0.328, a 44% front/56% rear weight distribution, and a redline of 9,200 revolutions per minute, according to SSC. In brief, if it ever makes it to production, the Tuatara may just give the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport a run for its money.
There’s no question that the Tuatara sounds like an impressive car, but the real question is will it ever make it to production? The first customer delivery was scheduled for December 2013 or January 2014, but that date came and went.
Then, in June 2014, Digital Trends reported that financial issues hampered production of the Tuatara, but SSC had plans to move to a new factory in early 2015, and have cars headed to customers a few months after that. Considering it’s now the last month in 2015, that projection also failed to materialize. Finally, SSC hasn’t released a press announcement since April 24, 2013, which is questionable given the fact that since 2007, the company has issued at least three press releases a year.
Of course, the above doesn’t guarantee that SSC won’t produce the Tuatara — manufacturing the next fastest supercar is an immense undertaking — but it does make it seem like the pursuit of the next fastest supercar has stagnated. Still, stranger things have happened. One thing we do know is that if SSC eventually produces the Tuatara, the race between it and the Veyron Super Sport will be a spectacular one.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.