SSC Tuatara owner clocks 295 mph (475 km/h) in just 2.3 miles
The SSC Tuatara is officially the world's fastest car, but it's not the world's first 300 mph production car. That title's still up for grabs after YouTubers called shenanigans on SSC's claimed 316 mph run in 2020. But this car sure looks capable.
Wait a minute, you say, didn't a Bugatti top that figure years ago? Well, sort of. The Chiron Super Sport was indeed clocked at 304.773 mph (490.484 km/h) back in 2019. But it wasn't an official record; these need to be run forwards and backwards within a certain time period, to prove that the car itself did the work and it wasn't helped along by favorable wind conditions.
It's all a bit boring and technical really, and the numbers involved are a long way removed from any practical reality for a buyer, but the prestige involved in selling the world's fastest car makes it important that this stuff is done right, and SSC has learned a hard lesson after bearing the full brunt of the Internet's outrage when its claimed record run in 2020 didn't pass scrutiny.
So the company made sure everything was verifiable and all doubts could be answered when it came back and took the record, just inching past the previous mark to record a two-way, official speed of 282.9 mph (455.3 km/h). A long way off 316 mph, sure, but this time there were good excuses.
The track – a space shuttle runway at the Kennedy Space Center – was only 2.3 miles (3.7 km) long, with 0.7 miles (1.1 km) of braking zone at the end. That's a third as long as the stretch of Nevada highway used for the disputed record. And the driver wasn't a steely-eyed racer with decades of experience on the ragged edge, it was dentist-cum-health-care-entrepreneur-cum-philanthropist Dr. Larry Caplin, who owns SSC Tuatara #001 and drove the thing himself. And according to the company, he did it with the power turned down to around 1,450 horsepower instead of the car's full 1,750.
Either way, Caplan has now been back to the same runway for another stab at it. This was not a record attempt, mind you, just a high-speed testing run. But still, SSC made sure the car carried two Racelogic VBOX GNSS measurement systems as well as a Life Racing GPS, with a Racelogic technician on hand to ensure everything was set up correctly, and "independent analyst" Robert Mitchell – one of the key figures who discredited the original record claim – also present, effectively to represent the Internet.
On a one-way run, again on that short runway track, Caplan clocked 295 mph (475 km/h) this time before buttoning off and stopping. And the way the car was still accelerating when he had to hit the brakes makes it pretty clear that with a bit more room, 300 is eminently attainable.
So it's starting to look more and more like the Tuatara might indeed be capable of the speeds it first claimed, and the auto world is again on notice. Now, SSC has to go get all the proper approvals and stake out a long stretch of flat, desolate highway somewhere for another attempt, to put this issue to bed permanently before Hennessey or Koenigsegg pip it at the post.
Check out the latest high-speed run below.