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Shelby Supercar Tuatara aims for Bugatti Veyron 268 mph speed record for production cars


July 20, 2011

The SSC Tuatara

The SSC Tuatara

Image Gallery (26 images)

The competition for the world's fastest car appears set to escalate once more with Shelby Super Cars finally pulling the wraps off the car it has had under development for several years.

The aluminum and carbon fiber SSC Tuatara was styled by talented American designer Jason Castriota, and will run a mid-rear mounted, seven-litre, twin-turbo, Quad camshaft V8 producing 1,350 bhp.

Shelby is making no bones about the aim of the car - it is aiming for 280 mph and wants to once more produce the world's fastest production car, a title it held as recently as 2010 with the 1183 bhp, twin-turbo V8 Ultimate Aero TT which ran 412.68 km/h (256.18 mph).

It bested the previous fastest, the original 1001 bhp Bugatti Veyron's 408 km/h (254 mph) but lost the title back to the French marque last year when a 1200 bhp Bugatti Veyron Super Sport ran 431 km/h (268 mph).

SSC has only just disclosed the name of the car and some images, and no doubt intends to get as much value from the project as it can by staged releases of additional information over time. Hence we don't yet know what the performance figures will be for the car, but it can reasonably be expected to eclipse the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport's 268 mph.

Traditionally, new speed records are achieved in small increments unless your name is Bugatti. The McLaren F1 held the record at 386.4 km/h (240.1mph) for seven years, before it was marginally improved to 387.87 kmh (241.01 mph) by the Koennigsegg CCR. Then followed Bugatti's 408 km/h (254 mph), the Ultimate Aero TT's 412.68 km/h (256.18 mph) and then the quantum leap by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to 431km/h (268 mph).

Hence, our bet is that when the SSC speed runs are made, the American crew will be aiming for something in the vicinity of 280 mph from the Tuatara and even then, there are some who believe that the Bugatti's 268 mph speed might not be bettered for some time.

It must be noted that 431 km/h is an astonishing top speed for a road car, considering it's capable of pulling out and passing any Formula One car in a straight line. Indeed, it'll best any speed an F1 car can do by more than the outright speed limit in most countries and happens to be the exact speed of the Shanghai Maglev train.

In terms of further details of the SSC Tuatara, very little more is known at this stage. The twin turbo V8 delivers its power through a seven-speed gearbox which will come with either a conventional H-pattern stick shift or F1-style sequential paddle shifters tucked in behind the steering wheel.

The Tuatara will be built almost entirely of carbon fiber - the cabin, chassis, sub-frames and even the wheels are carbon fiber while there are also some "energy absorbing aluminum crash structures".

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Tuatara is that it is both visually arresting and immediately identifiable - while many supercars are beginning to look the same from a distance, the Tuatara is visually unique, and for the dozen individuals who will have the money to own one (only a dozen will be built), no-one will be left in any doubt what it is that they're driving.

The car is the work of American design prodigy Jason Castriota.

Castriota designed the SSC Ultimate Aero and his other work so far includes the Bertone Mantide concept, the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina, the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, the Maserati GranTurismo, the Maserati Birdcage 75 and the Saab PhoeniX. Pictures of all of these cars are in this article or in the gallery and it's interesting to look at the Tuatara and the cars Castriota has previously penned. Can you see similarities between the Birdcage and the Tuatara, or the aerodynamic detailing of the PhoeniX and the Tuatara?

For such a young designer, his portfolio is already brimming with astonishingly beautiful and significant machinery. He now leads the design team at Saab.

No price has yet been mentioned, but talk suggests you'll not only be able to go faster than a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, you'll also have to contend with a price tag of less than half that of the French supercar.

Which speaks volumes for the efficiencies of SSC - Bugatti spent so much money designing and building the Veyron that many people believe they effectively subsidized the purchase of every single one of them.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Need to have him designthe 2014 Mustang!

Joseph Shimandle

Yes please.


why? what purpose does it serve? seems like a waste of resources for the humans on this planet for the \"elite\" where are you gonna drive 268 MPH, yeah not anywhere in the USA, those resources are wasted on a worthless endeavor, like Porsche using electric motors to make their cars faster, instead of more efficient, so sad, so many selfish humans,

Bill Bennett

bad name for a supercar - Tuatara

It\'s an ancient New Zealand reptile that goes back to the dinosaurs and does about 3km a year!

The Mouse That Roared

Bill Bennett: \"so many selfish humans\" is it selfish to buy this car if you have the resources? I cant se how that is the case. these 12 cars are properly going to emit less pollution than your last vacation by plane, them being kept in a temperature controlled garage most of the time. I doubt that supercar emissions are measurably raising earth´s temperature.

grumpy geen-vagelist comments like that makes my stomach turn.


Limited edition Supercars are like pieces of art. The world will be a poorer place if no one designs, builds or even aspires to own one.

John Tagamolila

Simply amazing.

Cry me a river Bill.......

John Donahue

I am with Mr. Bennet on this one. The resources to build this crap for rich pricks could be better used.


How utterly pointless. Where would you be able to go even half that fast? Give me a used formula 3 car and an empty track anyday. Who buys these things?


Wow a car that is as fast as the bullet trains in Europe, Japan, and China. I would rather be traveling at that speed while drinking a fine wine and eating a good meal. And a train ticket in China to go 400 miles costs under $50 or about 1/4 of what the Shelby driver will pay for the gas alone to go that distance.

Something incredibly stupid at a time when men and women are dying overseas so we can continue to import oil, to then be spending time engineering a car that wastes that oil. It is like spitting in the faces of our poor soldiers.


Talk about dinosaurs! Jasper, your turning stomach is only all of that macho BS backing up inside of you. Get out your buggy whip and beat that horse to death. The car IS attractive, it might even get a movie deal. But only the lucky few who sell useless crap to the uber-rich will ever get anything out of prickmobiles like these. I doubt that Jasper will ever be one of them.


Oh dear here we go again turning a tech mag into a soap box for environmental concerns.

If you feel that strongly don\'t subscribe to the mag, or better still create your own website and invite comment on that.

This car is astonishing, it looks like mobile art and has a beauty to behold. I don\'t care how fast it goes as I love art and this IS art.

As for resources, technological advances always require resources would you rather we just stuck to wood and clay, your argument is worthless

Nick Rowney

To Bill and Nelson and mommus Why do you even look at new, leading edge creations? I would love to know what kind of cars you drive. These people are following their passions for designing automotive excellence. Who do you think you are to judge them on their lives, inventions and passions? Without leading edge designers in the automotive world, we would all still be riding around in Model T\'s or Horses which put lots of methane into the atmosphere. I suggest you subscribe to a printed magazine like tree huggers daily. If you don\'t like technology, why use one of these new newfangled computers?

technology lover

Where are you going to drive 268mph, you ask? Oh, any side street. (That\'s an old line, usually used in superbike discussions... but it was time to break it out) 8D

So it\'s a Shelby, eh? Does it come with a lawsuit or do you have to file your own?


Man, that thing sure is gorgeous. The rearview is a work of art, and simply ferocious looking.


I happen to agree with the Bills of the world but also agree with everyone else, that this is a beautiful work of art and would love to drive it. I say everyone needs to be able to fuel there passion and if that happens to be driving a super car like this, so be it. The only caveat is that while the rich are being irresponsible consumers, they also pay their share in the form of a huge luxury tax. And while they are at it, pay taxes on all their earnings. Even the ones that get immediately funneled into off-shore tax shelters.

I digress... Beautiful car!


Jasper, as attractive as the car is and I\'m a car guy as much as anyone, the speed goal that they want to achieve is useless unless they will live at Bonneville. Only a total narcissist with more money than brains will purchase this vehicle. A more appropriate use of the engineering skills would be to wring out the capabilities of a sub two liter engine for power and efficiency.


I\'m not as bothered by existence of this pointless endeavor as I am that anyone with an interest in technology would consider it leading edge. Reading about this last gasp of the internal combustion engine is like reading about who can build the fanciest horse buggy while Henry Ford was selling his first cars. Denis R.


Wow, the wealth envy on this forum is depressing! I\'ll never be able to afford anything like this, but that doesn\'t mean I\'m going to whine about the guy that can. I live my own life.

To bring our troops into this and moan about how much oil we have to import, wtf? I guarantee any of our heroes overseas would love to have that car! Besides, if we were allowed to drill the oil under our own country, gas prices wouldn\'t be an issue anymore, and we wouldn\'t be over there.

\"so many selfish humans\" sounds like a line the looters would say in \"Atlas Shrugged\". We are at a point where being successful is considered a crime. Atlas is Shrugging!


I hate when anything is compared to a Formula One car. First of all, F1 cars aren\'t designed for ultimate top speed numbers; the large wings and the open-wheel design destroys the drag coefficient. The cars are designed to go around corners as fast as humanly possible, generating up to 5g cornering forces, so on a track even a backmarker Force India car would probably destroy the Tuatara.


Cars like this are rolling art with soul. They are only made in tiny numbers so we can appreciate the workmanship and what is humanly possible. It is through the passion of dreams and the will to give it life that we move forward. Advancement in any technology happens at the cutting edge, not at the KIA factory. Don\'t think of these cars as excess; think of them as the inception to reality. Think \"Wright Brothers\" and what they did for transport for the masses. If no one did any auto development we\'d all be driving Trabants!

Terry Penrose

It is a pity that there are so many left wing green-vangelists out there. Do you not stop to consider that if some rich playboy wants to have somebody develope a toy at vast expense, then other rich kids want to have one as well, they spend a lot of money. And that means redistribution of wealth. How many moaning left wing green-vangelists work for companies who build toys or super mansions for rich kids. You are being employed. And there have been many new developments in the luxury automotive world that have enhanced our safety and the efficient running of our present day work cars. Just shut up and let them spend their money and help keep your brothers and sisters employed.


I am for greener planet (stop buying water bottle). But those car are going to be collectable item. The millionaires who will buy them will keep them in A/C room and might sell them couple years later for a big profit.

I was watching TV the other where peoples buys stuf at auction. There was and old Schwin bike in one lot, I think they paid something like 600$ for the lot, but the bike itself was resold for 6000$.

I love the car, it is sexy and futuristic. Would I buy a car like that if I had the money, yes!. Would I drive it at top speed? probably not. but I would try it at least once on a close circuit to get the feeling.

I for myself would love to own a Tesla roadster. Fast and green.


As art I admire and understand the design achievement. As technology I want to know the curb weight of the platform minus the powder plant, and the drag. Why minus? I am always looking at this technology with an eye to adapt it for the average man who wants a sexy ride and economy. Very rarely do I see the two combined. It\'s as if there is an unwritten law that says sexy must always come with speed and power. I bought a new \'67 Fiat Spider that looked like a Lotus Elan but for half the price that got 46 mpg. It was slow with top speed of 97 but economical and stylish. Forty-four years later I am waiting for improvement on this concept. I just don\'t understand why this niche has been ignored.


The SSC Tuatara will only be superior if it can better the 0-60-0 times achieved by the Bugatti. The Bugatti has an extremely good performance in this respect. This aspect of performance is an essential yardstick as not only is it a measure of performance but also of safety.


"F1 cars [true bits removed] The cars are designed to go around corners as fast as humanly possible." No. 'F' is for Formula, all kinds of parameters set for all kinds of reasons, could be money (way more than most people have in any case) but probably a big part is that a race where the tires need to be replaced every 20 seconds would not be very interesting to watch. Going around corners as fast as humanly possible would never involve a car, that would be a centrifuge for preparing people to ride in a rocket, or do steep turns in a fighter jet. Sorry for the rant, I used to have an english teacher that would have a hissy fit whenever she heard anyone say "whole bunch".

Dave B13

Those of true strength and power need neither speed nor money to prove themselves worthy of respect and admiration; nor do they allow trivial distractions nor petty barbs to keep them from endeavors that build legacies of lasting value.

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