Folks, you’re looking at the first-ever production model of the SSC Tuatara hypercar. Formerly called Shelby SuperCars Inc., the company changed its name to SSC North America in a bid to avoid confusing Shelby-branded supercars with those from Ford and Carroll Shelby’s eponymous Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, and it’s for a good reason.
You see, SSC is not a newbie in the speed industry. It all started in 2006 with the SSC Ultimate Aero, a car which held the Guinness-certified title of the fastest production car in the world back in 2007. How fast? The SSC Aero clocked 256.18 mph (412.28 kph) until the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport arrived to crash the party in 2010.
And then, Bugatti came back again in 2019 with a slightly modified Chiron. It achieved a v-max run of 304.77 mph and was packing 1,578 horses from its quad-turbocharged W16 engine, enough to snatch the fastest car in the world crown from the Veyron.
But with the SSC Tuatara, the speed game is about to get more interesting
SSC did it once twelve years ago, and there’s no reason why it can’t do it again. You can think of Tuatara as the evolution of Ultimate Aero and which SSC proclaims can go above 300 mph.
SSC (formerly Shelby SuperCars) was established in 1998 by Jerod Shelby. Shelby (no relation to legendary car-builder Carroll Shelby) graduated from the University of Washington and became the co-founder of Advanced Imaging Technologies Inc. specializing in advanced medical diagnostic devices.
But Shelby’s true calling is to create supercars. The man established SSC in a bid to become a premier American supercar maker, and it did just that with the SSC Tuatara. But in order to break that elusive 300 mph barrier, Shelby needed help.
Jason Castriota is responsible for the Tuatara’s slippery design
Evidently, SSC partnered with renowned automotive designer Jason Castriota in penning the Tuatara’s sleek and devilish shape. Castriota is no stranger to designing supercars. In fact, he was responsible for designing the 2006 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, the one-off Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina, and the 2007 Maserati Gran Turismo.
In our eyes, the SSC Tuatara gracefully merges the best design angles of the world’s finest hyper-speed machines. It has glimpses of a McLaren, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, but it still has a unique shape, especially when viewed from the rear.
Holy hell, are those horns at the back, or are we looking at Batman’s car? Kidding aside, the Tuatara has a pair of wing flaps or winglets at the back. Combined with the predominantly meshed-out rear end, the Tuatara’s shape was clearly inspired by jet fighters. Meanwhile, the monocoque frame is crafted from aerospace-grade carbon fiber while the entire skin is crafted from the same space-age material.
Apparently, it also slices the wind like a modern airplane. According to SSC, the Tuatara has a drag-coefficient of 0.279 Cd, effectively making it among the slipperiest and most aerodynamic supercar in the world today. But what’s most impressive is how the car achieves an ideal aero balance from 100 mph to well over 300 mph.
Nelson Racing Engines co-developed the Tuatara’s V8 engine
The final ingredient for a record-breaking speed demon is a gigantic engine. In the SSC Tuatara, it comes in the form of a twin-turbocharged 5.9-liter V8 co-developed by SSC with Nelson Racing Engines. It produces a mind-numbing 1,750-horsepower using E85 gasoline. Fill it up with regular 91 octane gas, though, and you still have 1,350-horsepower at your disposal.
The engine is bolted to a CIMA seven-speed gearbox capable of executing gearshifts in sub-100 milliseconds, which is super-quick.
It’s expensive, and it’s a limited run model
SSC pledged to only build 100 examples of the Tuatara for worldwide consumption. The Tuatara you’re seeing here is car number one and debuted at this year’s Philadelphia Auto Show. The car now belongs to Dr. Larry Caplin, founder of CF Charities, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia.
The car is decked in Pearlescent Black paint with gloss black and red accents. Apparently, Dr. Caplin is also the proud owner of a white SSC Ultimate Aero.
So, how much is the SSC Tuatara? A little bird told us it starts at around $1.3 million. Hey, we never said America’s ultimate hypercar will come cheap.