Speak of the devil ... With a lot of world record talk going on lately, SSC managed to slip its way back into the headlines, making us wonder where the finely sculptured road-bullet known as the Tuatara is. SSC showed it nearly two years ago and we haven't heard much about it since. As if in answer to that question, SSC dropped a little "hello" by way of a press release saying that it's moving into the final phases of Tuatara development. It hooked the seething twin-turbo V8 engine to the dyno and is all too happy to share the results.
The Tuatara's engine completed its final testing and validation earlier this month. SSC pushed the V8 to the limit in dyno testing in an effort to identify any weaknesses. It then rubbered the proverbial "approved" stamp onto the 1,350 horsepower and 1,280 lb-ft (1735 Nm) ratings. The horsepower is just a confirmation of what SSC announced when it first introduced the Tuatara, but the torque takes quite a spike from the 1,042 lb-ft (1413 Nm) still listed on the specs section of its website. And for those owners that "don't want or need to be buffered by regulations," the engine packs the untapped potential for a primal stampede of more than 1,700 horses.
"For customers that want to use the Tuatara for track days or perhaps live in a region of the world where they are not required to meet regulations or emissions standards, this same power plant can be slightly adjusted to produce over 1700 horsepower, " SSC chief administrative officer Alan Leverett said when we asked for clarification about the 1,700 claim. "That raise in horsepower is achieved by a simple re-programming of the AFR (air-fuel ratio) and raising the boost output of the turbo system. This adjustment in the AFR would mean that the vehicle would not pass emissions standards. So this option could only be offered for customers using the vehicle on tracks or off regulated-highway use."
Despite all that raw power flirting with the driver's toes, and despite the Tuatara's world record potential, SSC says that the car is gentle and civilized enough to be a daily driver – assuming anyone wants to drive his or her half-million-dollar supercar every day.
"This amazingly versatile package has already shown that it can easily be driven on a daily basis in any climate or environment in the world and at the same time can roll out of the pit area onto a track like Nurburgring and easily handle any rigors that record will require," said SSC founder and lead designer Jerod Shelby.
Shelby slipped in a little reminder that he's gunning for the world record in describing testing:
"Even if it were possible to climb a steep and constant hill at 275 mph, with the aerodynamic drag that would be associated with that speed, you would never see the kind of load we are testing our engines at. It was quite an experience to watch an engine be put through these kinds of extreme tests. I've never personally seen exhaust headers glow orange/red for that long period of time. I was waiting for metal to start dripping on the floor. But not only did metal not turn to liquid during the grueling testing, the engine was torn down for internal inspection when all testing was completed, and every component still looked brand new."
While SSC materials talk a lot about 275 mph (442.5 km/h), its website lists the projected top speed at 276 mph (444 km/h). Either one will be enough to top the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport but will also fall short of the rumored "Super-Veyron's" 288 mph (463.5 km/h) potential. Other Tuatara numbers of interest include a 2.5-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h), 9.75-second quarter-mile (at 144 mph/232 km/h), 0-100-0 mph time (0-161-0 km/h) of 11.25 seconds, and 2,750-pound (1,247-kg) dry weight.
SSC plans to deliver the first Tuatara by December of this year or January 2014.