SSC completes engine testing on Tuatara supercar, teases 1,700 hp


April 29, 2013

The Tuatara at the 2011 Concours d'Elegance Pebble Beach

The Tuatara at the 2011 Concours d'Elegance Pebble Beach

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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.

Source: SSC

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

What we need is for that chip's reprogramming and more turbo power to be accessed via a "BOOST" or "SPORT" button hidden down by the console where only the driver knows! Then he/she can turn it back to "Normal" when pretty blue lights are seen in the mirror or when one turns up for the pre-rego pollution compliance check.

The Skud

Would anybody who reads Gizmag have the funds to waste on this monstrosity? Is the car section here just a way to alert us to the madness of the wealthy?

Bob Stuart

Props to Jarod Shelby of my home-town West Richland, WA !!! Jerod is taking on the GIANTS of 'super-car-dome' with some American ingenuity and some serious 'Merican motor muscle! Time to go to the track and disprove the European nay-sayers.


I'm looking for a new car, and I see it has a GM alternator on it, I'm sold


Unique looking car, but .....

We know the overall design has nothing to do with a "retro" look, so what's the necessity of those damn fins?

This car is absurd. It is a waste of time and engineering talent. A car that can go 275mph and is street legal is of no use to anyone. Even at 150 mph we have no tires that can last even one hour. And that is on a race track. On a road where a tiny pothole or thorn or nail might touch a tire speeds like the ones described require a suicidal driver not to mention people in the area who could be struck by a car decomposing and throwing pieces for close to a mile. Jim Sadler

The sickest of American Super Cars should be running the finest of American Tire technology --- the Cambertire --- of course, mounted on the insanest of Carbon Fiber wheels --- the CarbonRev. Wonder what the performance specs would look like with a 25%+ increase in lateral and braking G forces, better compliance, and alot less rotational mass.

Mark McCoy

There will always be some buyers need for psychological replacements of what they feel is lacking. Or those that have the insatiable, unrelenting desire of the need for speed.

Ivan Schiller

1700 HP would be great in a tractor-pull competition ...


Odd that such a futuristic machine is named after the world's slowest reptile.

Mike Moroney

@DixonAgee 1700 HP is kind of overkill. My guess is it does about the same time around nurburgring as the 545 HP Nissan GT-R or the 505 HP Corvette Z06.


People who complain about other peoples toys. These super cars take money out of the pockets of the super wealthy and put it in the hands of workers.

re; Jim Sadler

On the street it is low end performance that is important. Stupid people are a danger even if they are only driving a Honda Civic.

re; jayedwin98020

While the pictures didn't give me the angles I wanted I am convinced that the fins that you are so disparaging of provide downforce and stability.


the non-gearheads who have posted negative comments should just STAY OUT of the automotive section if you cannot stand fast cars, race cars or supercars or anything that gets less than 300km/litre.

Supercars have always pushed the technological envelope. It is and has always been that way and will continue to be that way as long as new technologies are in low production and/or experimental and can only be afforded by the rich at their inception. In time those technologies distill to the rest of us.

Michael Wilson

Ah yes. I see some still subscribe to the trickle down lie. Reaganism dies hard and/or the ignorant live on...


re; JAT

Give an example of something working better at generating and spreading wealth.


technology is one of the few things that actually does "trickle down". ...Computers used to be toys of rich corporations and governments costing millions of dollars. Now everyone has more computing power than nasa in the 60s in their pocket. Expensive, exotic cars like the Jaguar E-type, the fastest cars of their day are now outperformed by stock minivans on a race track. It takes time, but tech truly does trickle down...

I agree with you though that economics do not.

Michael Wilson

re; Michael Wilson

If rich people did not buy things like computers, digital watches, (you could buy a good used car for what a Pulsar LED watch cost the first year.) computers, and E-type Jags the technology would not trickle down. When they buy these expensive things clerks, truck drivers, factory workers, engineers, book keepers, and etc get paid these people buy goods and services pumping the money through the economy again. even putting money in the bank feeds the economy by giving the bank money to loan. What hurts the economy the worst is misers piling money under their bed and confiscatory taxation which in effect creates misers.


Oh you mean those multi billionaire misers that actually never spend their money, unless its for hedge funds, which as an entity possess a mind blowingly unnecessary amount of wealth that does next to nothing but stagnate money even more?? Oh I completely understand what you mean now!! Im glad we cleared things up and didn't completely use the mindless hard working little guy as a scape goat!! Don't get me wrong I think there should be wealthy people, and it's certainly not bad at all for beautiful cars like this to be made and bought by the wealthy, but the problem is the f*s at the top that hoard all the money and don't buy cars like this. The same people who have their whole life devoted to a numbers game.. whether you are a billionaire or a multi billionaire WTF's the difference? You can't play the game if someone holds onto all the poker chips.. and the miser piling chump change under his bed certainly isn't the one with all of those chips!!

Dean Kaufman

@DixonAgee Umm they're not offering a street legal 1700 hp version, if you read the article it said it is capable of 1700hp. The production engine will have 1350 hp and weigh 2750 lbs. I really don't understand your thinking that the 545 hp Nissan GTR or the out of production 505 hp Z06 would even come close to a hypercar around the Ring making that amount of power and weight. Those cars you mentioned have already been beat pretty bad already by cars that have a lot less potential. You obviously don't even keep up with car news, the C7 Z06 has already been testing at the Ring. On the other hand, I use to think highly of SSC when they had the production car speed record in the Ultimate Aero, but they did that on a 2 lane black top in TX, and the car had more speed left in it and they never retested it on a runway or track like the one Bugatti got their bogus record on, since they modified the car by taking the speed limiter off. The official record is supposed to be for unmodified street legal production cars, and watching Guinness being so uncertain on their own rules by giving awards then taking them away, then giving them back again, I don't have any confidence even in Guinness anymore. Hennessey went 256 mph in an unmodified Venom GT that was the one that got awarded then it was taken away after Bugatti bitched enough. All money and politics if you ask me. I'll hand it to Bugatti though, at least they did a top speed run, Hennessey is selling Venom GT's and they haven't done a top speed run yet, makes no sense, the 265 pass was a standing 2 miles run, not a top speed pass.

Briane Howland
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