Confirmed: The SSC Tuatara never hit 500km/h

SSC has admitted its 500km/h world record run wasn't quite what it seemed. It's vowed to come back for another crack, though.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Deputy Editor

Turns out the SSC Tuatara’s creators were playing fast and loose with the facts about their hypercar’s record-breaking top speed run.

“We have seen your questions for months now and understand your frustrations,” SSC said in a statement posted to social media overnight.

“If it hasn’t been made clear up to this point, we would like to acknowledge officially that we did not reach the originally claimed speeds of 331mph (531km/h) or even 301mph (484km/h) in October of 2020.

“We were truly heartbroken as a company to learn that we did not reach this feat, and we are in an ongoing effort to break the 300mph (482km/h) barrier transparently, officially, and undoubtedly.”

Doubts about the accuracy of SSC’s claimed 508.73km/h two-way speed record immediately began to swirl after a video of the Tuatara’s fastest run was released.

A number of viewers, led by automotive influencer Shmee150, claimed the gearing of the Tuatara means it couldn’t go any faster than 470km/h flat out – and the rev counter in the record video shows the car didn’t get past 450km/h.

Dewetron, the company that built the GPS system used for the record-breaking run, also subsequently told media it didn’t verify the equipment used by SSC.

“The more we looked – and the more we tried to analyse – the more we were concerned there were doubts in the relationship between the video and the GPS,” SSC CEO Jerrod Shelby said after the accuracy of his company’s claim was called into question.

“We have to rerun the record. We have to do this again, and do it in a way that’s undeniable and irrefutable,” he said.

SSC went to the Kennedy Space Centre in January 2021 to prove the Tuatara’s ability, but couldn’t go faster than 455.3km/h.

Although that’s faster than the Koenigsegg Agera RS ever went, giving SSC the world record it craved, but it’s well down on what the company claimed its V8-powered monster would do.

Power to the Tuatara comes from a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine making 1305kW of power on E85 fuel, sent to the rear wheels exclusively.

The chassis and body are both carbon-fibre, and the car tips the scales at just 1247kg. The body is also slipperier than a Bugatti Chiron or Koenigsegg Agera.

SSC has been promising the Tuatara since 2011, as a successor to the SSC Ultimate Aero.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Scott Collie is the Deputy Editor at CarExpert.
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