SSC Tuatara

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There was a lot of buzz and rumors around this car even before it went into production. And since 2011, when the prototype was shown at the competition of automotive elegance in Pebble Beach, everyone waited for this car and everyone was interested in what the new supercar from the USA would be capable of. In 2007, the company’s SSC first model, the Ultimate Aero, set a world speed record for production cars. At that time SSC was faster than Koenigsegg and Bugatti.

The SSC Tuatara went into production in 2019. The production car, which was the successor to the Ultimate Aero and therefore the company’s second model, was shown in Monterey (in California). Many people know that the Tuatara is a species of rare reptile that lives only on 35, small islands of New Zealand. In the Maori language Tuatara means – “peaks on the back”. If to pay attention to aerodynamic fins of the supercar, such name seems quite appropriate.
The novelty became more powerful than Koenigsegg Agera RS and even the newest Jesko. On October 10, 2020, the American car went for speed tests. The event was held in Nevada, near Las Vegas, on a blocked highway length of 6.7 miles (11 km). At the time, professional racing driver Oliver Webb was at the wheel. The tester is known for his participation in such racing series as; – Formula 3, Renault Series and BMW. During the two races, in both directions, an average, top speed of 508.7km was voiced. In some of the favorable moments (slope of the track, wind direction) the car managed to accelerate to 532 km per hour. These were simply fantastic figures which stirred up the whole automobile world.
Three years earlier on the same track the Koenigsegg Agera RS had managed to reach 447 km per hour. A heavily modified Bugatti Chiron in Pur Sport modification was able to accelerate to 390 km per hour on the track in Nardo. Sixty cars of such modified Bugatti have been produced. But the speed stated after the tests of the Tuatara caused a wave of skepticism. One of the first who voiced his doubts was John Hennessy, known manufacturer of supercars from the U.S. and probably the closest competitor for the SSC. There was so much criticism that the SSC decided to re-measure.
The re-test was conducted at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But there was only 2.3 miles (3.7km) on the runway for the Tuatara and little more room for safe braking. This time, it was not a professional racer at the wheel, but the owner of a particular copy of the Tuatara, Larry Caplin. On January 17, 2021, he managed to record a speed of 282.9 miles ( 455.3km). Which was a very significantly more modest figure than what had been claimed before.
On May 14th of the 22nd, another test was conducted at the same space center. This time two systems, Racelogic VBOX GNSS and Life Racing GPS, measured the results. This time the maximum speed of 295 miles (478 km) was recorded.

Cost and price of SSC Tuatara.

Buy the new supercar SSC in the U.S. for $ 1,600,000. The price tag is significantly higher than the company’s first model. Additional options can increase the cost up to 2 million dollars. But even with such, the maximum price tag, the American car is much cheaper than European exotics in the form of Koenigsegg. The claimed series of 100 cars is twice the number of Ultimate Aero produced. Assembly is done in Richland, Washington, and it takes 4 months to assemble one supercar. Interestingly, the development of the Tuatara lasted almost as long as the work on the Ultimate Aero was done earlier.

Exterior and photos of the SSC Tuatara.
With a drag coefficient of 0.279, the Tuatara is considered the most aerodynamic car in its class. Usually, despite the very low body height, due to the many air intakes, supercars have even a slightly higher drag coefficient than cars of mass production. But this is not the case with the SSC supercar. A car that was designed as a speed record holder needs to possess not only excellent downforce, but also excellent aerodynamics.
Jason Castrota worked on the appearance of the SSC Tuatara. At that time, he was SAAB’s chief designer, and before that he had worked at Pininfarina and he had drawn the Ferrari 599.
Unlike the previous model – Ultimate Aero, where the frame was made of titanium and aluminum, the Tuatara is based on a carbon fiber monocoque. In this decision SSC has become similar to European exotics. Even the wheel rims here are made of carbon fiber! – as on the best, European supercars. Each of the rims weighs only 5.8kg, which is incredibly low for a wheel of this size. On the company’s previous model, the wheels were forged.

The American supercar is shod in tires sized; – 245/35 ZR20 at the front and 345/25 ZR20. Through the wheels you can see the brakes with ceramic brake discs with a diameter of 16d ( 44cm) – at the front and 15d (38cm) – at the rear. The brake discs are clamped at the front by 8-piston calipers, at the rear by 6-piston calipers. It is noteworthy that if the calipers of the previous model had the inscription – AERO, the brake calipers of the new model are decorated with the name of the new car.

Of course, there is an air brake on such a fast car. But if in Ultimate Aero this function was carried out by special flaps which were almost vertically extended at 20 cm, in Tuatara braking at speed is promoted by the rear antifender. Such a solution is much more usual and used in other supercars.
With a body length of 4430mm, the wheelbase is 2672mm. Curb weight of the SSC supercar is 1247kg. Ground clearance changes depending on the selected mode. In sport mode, the front clearance is 4d (102mm), rear – 4.5d (114mm). In the track mode ground clearance is reduced to; – 2.75d (70mm) – in front and 3.75d (95mm) – behind.

Those who are lucky enough to find themselves in the interior of this American supercar will notice how much glazing is there. The doors open with a butterfly wing. The doors of the Ultimate Aero open the same way. Interestingly, to open the door in the Tuatara, you need to press a small button placed in the air intake. SSC said that a person of height 196 cm with a helmet on his head could sit in their new supercar. Probably the glazing area is so big for the reason that car’s creators were inspired by creations of aerospace industry. It is possible to look not only forward, or sideways, but also upwards, sitting behind a steering wheel of Tuatar – as pilots of fighter planes do.
Just from a photo it is possible to notice that usual side rear-view mirrors are absent here. Instead of them there are mounted cameras, the image from which is transmitted to the saloon mirror. There are racing safety belts and in difference from Ultimate Aero the novelty is already equipped with ABS and traction control systems.
There is a touch screen in place of the central console. This supercar SSC reminds about Tesla, but I think the thing is that many manufacturers use such monitors in their solutions today. For example, in the latest, the seventh series from BMW under the index G70, small displays are located directly on the armrests and with their help control the windows.

Engine and specifications of the SSC Tuatara.

The base of the American supercar has an all-aluminum V8 with two turbines. It is noteworthy that the engine is clearly visible from the passenger compartment. Also looking at the engine through the engine cover, you can see the Tuatara inscriptions on the valve covers of the engine.
Initially, the new car was expected to receive a 6.9L engine from SSC. The production car received an engine capacity of 360.8 cubic inches (5.9 liters). And this is less than the Ultimate Aero had. Such volume is achieved with a 4.125d bore (104.8mm) and 3.375d stroke (85.7mm). The compression ratio of the engine is 8.8:1.
Even with regular 91-octane gasoline, the Tuatara develops 1,350 horsepower. And that’s more than any of the Ultimate Aero variants. With racing fuel, the output reaches 1,750 horsepower, which corresponds to 1.3 megawatts (the appropriate inscription is also available on the engine). Maximum traction of 1735N.M is reached at 6800 rpm.
It has rear-wheel drive and a 7-speed robotized gearbox. Even just from the photo you can pay attention to equal-length, exhaust manifolds. Such, racing attribute is necessary for the car-record holder. Moreover, masters from Nelson Racing Engines worked over development of the power unit. It is interesting, that while making tests of the engine on the stand, the number of 1 890 horsepower was shown on the device.
From a place to 100 km supercar from SSC able to accelerate in 2.5 seconds. We have already talked about the maximum speed in the beginning.

Obviously, SSC tried their best to make a record-breaking car. This is one of the fastest production supercars in the world. And if Bugatti, having accelerated its Chiron Pur Sport to 490 km, refused to participate in the race for top speed, I’m not sure that the same will be done in Koenigsegg and moreover in Hennessey.

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