Way back in 2011, a year after Bugatti had set its long-standing world speed record, SSC showed it had no intention of relinquishing the title for good, revealing the silky smooth 1,350-hp Tuatara. Things seemed like they were moving along, but then the Tuatara went MIA and looked like it had become a member of the vaporware club. The all-American supercar reemerged in Pebble Beach last year, just as a new round of "world's fastest" is growing hotter and hotter. Tuatara production is now underway, marking a rather important step in the Tuatara's quest to become world's speediest production car.
According to last week's announcement, production has actually been going on for several months in SSC's Richland, Washington, facility, following full testing and validation of the subassemblies after last year's pre-production Tuatara premiere. SSC says that the first official production model is nearing completion, on schedule for customer delivery in Q3 2019.
The Tuatara is powered by a bespoke 5.9-liter twin-turbo flat-plane V8 engineered in collaboration with Nelson Racing Engines. The engine itself boasts "1.3 megawatts" in bright-orange lettering, referencing its ability to put out up to 1,750 hp on E85 gas. When running 91 octane, that output scales back to 1,350 hp. Either way, a CIMA 7-speed manual transmission with 50-millisecond robotized shifting ensures all those ponies are properly directed toward lap-time-obliterating acceleration and speed.
Sculpted by famed designer Jason Castriota, the Tuatara's smooth, fighter-jet-inspired shape was cutting-edge enough back in 2011 to carry over to 2019 without looking a minute out of date. The car did gain some extra slices and creases over time, particularly at the rear, which is now a much more defined synthesis of mesh, fins and creases, not to mention a pair of triangular exhaust tips. The car's carbon fiber skin is draped on a carbon monocoque, keeping weight down to 2,750 lb (1,247 kg).
Inside the butterfly doors, SSC connects the driver to the vehicle with a digital instrument panel and console touchscreen. The wraparound glass of the canopy provides clear views of the road ahead and to the sides, and a triple-camera system improves rear-view and blind-spot visibility.
At last year's debut, SSC mentioned 300 mph (483 km/h) being the goal for the Tuatara, and that's really the goal for the entire world-record-class field. The Tuatara's active aerodynamics, active suspension and multi-mode drive system promise to keep things interesting for all those times the driver is not attempting an arrow-straight speed-record run.
SSC plans to announce more information about Tuatara delivery, performance and high-speed validation in the coming weeks.
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