All posts in “Supercars”

The Elation Freedom is a 1,414-horsepower electric hypercar

The 2020s seem poised to become a golden age of hypercars, particularly electric ones like those from Rimac and Aspark. Granted, the “hypercar” label is kind of undefinable nonsense, but it persists because mere term “supercar” pales before the stats of this latest wave of road-going machines — both their performance and their lofty prices. The latest hopeful competitor to hit our inbox is the Elation Freedom, a 1,414-horsepower EV.

That power figure, by the way, is with the standard, three-motor configuration. If that’s not quite enough, the company also plans to offer a four-motor version with 1,903 horsepower.

A T-shaped 100kWh structural battery pack within the carbon fiber monocoque chassis feeds those motors and is expected to provide 300 miles of range. An optional 120kWh pack would stretch that to 400 miles. Cascadia Motion, an electric drive company that has developed Formula E motors, is contributing to the Elation powertrain, which includes a single-speed transmission that sends power to the front wheels and a two-speed unit that sends drive to the rear. Interestingly, the company also plans a conventionally powered variant, the Elation Freedom Iconic Collection, that utilizes a 5.2-liter V10 and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission powering all four wheels.

The Elation will be built in northern California, convenient to its presumed customer base of Silicon Valley plutocrats. Founder Carlos Satulovsky and chief technical officer Mauro Satavia Acosta, however, hail from Argentina, where the car is being engineered by a team that is said to have experience in Formula 1 and endurance racing.

According to its maker, the cars are to be hand-built and the company is aiming to start production by the end of 2022. The electric version will cost $2 million, while the Iconic Collection gas model will go for $2.3 million. That’s a considerably sum, but the EV, at least, may be subject to a federal tax credit. Consult your tax advisor. 

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Lamborghini Huracan STO revealed as the most extreme Huracan yet

Mercedes-AMG just snagged the Nürburgring production car lap record from Lamborghini, but the Italians might already have an answer. It’s called the Lamborghini Huracán STO, with the STO being short for Super Trofeo Omologata. And yes, this one is even more extreme than the already bonkers Huracán Performante.

Lamborghini says two of its race cars inspired it to make this road-legal high-po Huracán — the Super Trofeo EVO and the GT3 EVO. As we’d expect, it’s still powered by the 5.2-liter V10. The good folks in Sant’Agata have found 10 more horses above the Performante, meaning the STO makes 640 horsepower. Torque sits at 417 pound-feet, which is actually down quite a bit from the 443 pound-feet of the Performante. There’s no lack of acceleration, though. Lamborghini claims a 0-62 mph time of 3.0 seconds and top speed of 192.6 mph. Those numbers are great, but they’re not what the STO is about. No, this Lamborghini was designed to set fast lap times, meaning aerodynamics and weight were the two key areas that were enhanced.

The STO is 95 pounds lighter than the already light Performante. We imagine the bulk of that can be attributed to Lamborghini making the STO rear-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive. Yes! A rear-drive Lamborghini — we love to see it. But there’s also a greater use of carbon fiber for exterior panels (75% are made of carbon now). Additionally, the windshield is 20% lighter than a Performante, and it’s riding on magnesium wheels as opposed to aluminum alloys wheels. On the inside, Lamborghini uses carbon fiber sport seats, full carbon door panels, removes the carpeting (replaced with bare carbon fiber) and coats other surfaces with its Alcantara-like Carbonskin. All this combined results in a car with a dry weight of 2,952 pounds.

Pushing it into the ground is an impressive downforce package. Lamborghini has added air ducts in the front hood for better airflow to the radiator and to generate downforce. A new front splitter better directs air to a totally new underbody meant to create greater downforce. And the front end’s new design better directs air around the front wheels to reduce drag. New front brake ducts enhance cooling to the improved “CCM-R” brakes (new design drawing on racing brakes for even more thermal durability than standard carbon ceramics). Lamborghini calls the new front end “cofango,” which is a fancy mashup of Italian for “hood” and “fender.”

The new rear fender design decreases overall drag, but a new NACA air intake integrated into the fender also serves as the engine’s intake. Lamborghini says this shortened duct allows for “a 30% decrease in status pressure losses.” A revised rear engine cover features another integrated air scoop for cooling purposes. There’s a shark fin on that rear cover that helps straighten and direct airflow to the wing, thereby increasing downforce in corners. Speaking of the giant wing, it’s a manually adjustable piece with three settings. Lamborghini didn’t quote any figures on total downforce, but it does say downforce is increased by 53% over the Performante, and “overall airflow efficiency” goes up by 37%.

Underneath, Lamborghini has increased the wheel track, fitted stiffer suspension bushings, model-specific anti-roll bars and its MagenRide 2.0 dampers. You get rear-wheel steering, a new fixed steering ratio and quicker gear changes from the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. A new “STO” drive mode is also available to select for enthusiastic road driving, but you’ll want Trofeo mode for the best track performance.

Lamborghini says the STO will go on sale in spring 2021, and prices will start around $328,000.

New Ferrari SF90 Spider puts a 211-mph hurricane of wind in your hair

The new Ferrari SF90 Spider has been unveiled as the open-top sibling to the Prancing Horse’s SF90 Stradale. The SF90 Spider thus becomes Ferrari’s first plug-in-hybrid roadster, and with nearly 1000 horsepower on tap and four driven wheels, performance is solidly in the supercar realm. The new Spider maintains the Stradale’s  211-mph top speed, and it rockets from 0 to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds.

Like other Ferrari Spiders dating back to the 458, the SF90 is a retractable hardtop. The top is made of aluminum, which saves a claimed 88 pounds over more traditional materials, although the Spider’s stated dry weight (3,682 pounds) is still 220 more than the Stradale. The retractable roof can be lowered or raised in 14 seconds and can even be operated when the car is moving at low speeds. A power rear window that can be raised even when the top is stowed provides a measure of wind-buffetting protection for the cockpit. Additionally, the center section of the cockpit has been redesigned to help manage airflow: A central trim piece between the seats channels air away from the occupants’ heads and shoulders and into a double-layered trim piece at the top of the tunnel. The rest of the cabin mirrors that of the SF90 Stradale, with a 16-inch curved display screen, a head-up display, and a steering wheel with haptic-touch switches on the spokes.

The SF90’s plug-in-hybrid powertrain is unchanged from that of the SF90, which means a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (which alone makes 769 horsepower), supplemented by a trio of electric motors fed by a 7.9-kWh battery pack. One motor, located between the engine and the gearbox and making 157 horsepower, directly bolsters engine output, while two other 97-hp units each power one front wheel, giving the SF90 all-wheel drive as well as torque vectoring across the front axle. Total output stands at 986 horsepower, and the engine’s grunt is dispatched via Ferrari’s latest 8-speed DCT transmission.

Because the Spider’s roof stows where the engine-heat vents are in the Stradale, Ferrari engineers had to redesign the heat-management system for the powertrain. They introduced transverse louvers in the rear screen to exhaust engine heat. Compared to the coupe, the Spider also has a specially designed rear spoiler with both a fixed and a movable element, which allows it to either minimize drag or maximize downforce.

Impressively, the engine remains visible in the SF90 Spider even when the top is retracted. Ferrari designers also reworked the car’s B-pillars to seamlessly integrate the removable top. 

The Spider, like the SF90 Stradale, can be had with the optional Assetto Fiorano track pack, which includes Multimatic shock absorbers, a carbon-fiber rear spoiler, other lightweight carbon fiber and titanium elements that shave 46 pounds, ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and, most critically, an available two-tone livery “that further underscores the car’s racing vocation.”

U.S. pricing has not been announced, but we’re told the Spider command a tariff about 10 percent more than the Stradale, currently $507,300. Besides a shopping bag full of money — or, perhaps, bitcoin — SF90 Spider buyers will also need a good bit of patience. U.S. deliveries aren’t set to begin until about a year from now, at the end of the third quarter 2021.

Spy photos reveal mystery Ferrari prototype

European spies caught a mystery Ferrari hypercar mule testing on public roads this week. This prototype, which is based on a LaFerrari, seems to indicate that Ferrari is working on a successor.

Though it may not seem like that long ago, it has been two years since Ferrari closed the books on the LaFerrari halo car with its run of open-top Aperta models. Though all LaFerrari models were said to be pre-sold, it technically remained in production through 2018. We have no reason to believe Ferrari is planning to produce continuation variants of the LaFerrari, which leads us to suspect that this is a powertrain mule for what might be a next-generation, range-topping hypercar. 

There are quite a few visible differences between the production LaFerrari and this mule, though some of them could be products of its extensive disguise. The front fascia appears to be different, with narrower side intakes and a missing winglet on the lower lip. The rear glass is smaller on this prototype too, stretching only about halfway to the end of the rear deck, with what appears to be an air intake sitting where the glass would have extended toward the tail. The intakes on the flanks also appear smaller than on the production LaFerrari. 

A few things can be pinned down as more than mere vinyl-induced hallucinations, including the conventional five-lug wheels (rather than the LaFerrari’s center-locks). The blue triangle aft of the driver’s side window indicates that this is an electrified model, which would point to this being yet another high-performance hybrid

It remains to be seen what Ferrari has in store for this early prototype, but a new hypercar introduction in 2022 or 2023 would match the company’s typical 10-year gap between halo car introductions, so we probably won’t have to wait too much longer to find out more. 

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Pagani builds the 100th and final Huayra Roadster

Pagani has remained relatively quiet in the past few years. It has steered clear of the horsepower and top speed races, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t stayed busy. It published a video on its social media channels to announce it has built the 100th and final example of the Huayra Roadster three years after introducing the model.

The anonymous Hong Kong-based collector who will soon take delivery of the final Huayra Roadster explained he fell in love with the brand after seeing a C12 in a showroom. He added that he ordered his Roadster after unsuccessfully trying to buy a Huayra coupe, which is a relatively small problem to have in the grand scheme of things. And, an open-top hypercar with a screaming V12 engine isn’t terrible as far as consolation prizes go.

Like most Huayra buyers, the man worked directly with the company to customize his car.

“When I was shown the Mamba Black exposed carbon, that’s when I knew that I wanted this. It’s far richer in depth, and it really does look considerably different from the normal carbon fiber,” he explained. Pagani even designed a special fin for the rear end of the car. It’s inspired by the ones fitted to the Zonda Tricolore, and by a shark fin.

The owner played a role in designing the interior, too. Rather than keeping it all black, like the body, he requested yellow accents on the seats, on the door panels, and on the dashboard, and matte carbon fiber on the center console.

It doesn’t sound like the buyer requested any mechanical modifications, meaning power comes from a Mercedes-AMG-sourced 6.0-liter V12 that’s twin-turbocharged to 753 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. Mounted behind the passenger compartment, the 12-cylinder spins the rear wheels via a seven-speed automated manual transmission. It’s 40% lighter than the dual-clutch transmission used in the Huayra coupe, Pagani explained.

Pricing for the Huayra Roadster started at $2.4 million before options entered the equation, and all 100 units were spoken for by the time the car made its debut at the 2017 edition of the Geneva auto show. Selling 100 cars for a seven-digit sum is a big achievement, but building them and delivering them is even more impressive.

What’s next?

As of writing, Pagani’s future plans are relatively vague. Mercedes-AMG confirmed plans to phase out its V12 in the wake of ever-stricter emissions regulations around the world, so the Italian firm will need to either find another engine to power its cars, or design one from scratch. Which route it plans to take hasn’t been revealed yet. Regardless, the Huayra’s successor remains tentatively scheduled to arrive before the end of 2021.

In 2019, it said it hoped to release its first electric model by 2024, though company founder Horacio Pagani also admitted there is absolutely no demand for one. “None of our customers or dealers want to know about an electric car. They don’t want to know anything about it. They’re not interested. It’s a huge challenge for us, because no one is asking for it,” he affirmed. Another upcoming Pagani model that will undoubtedly generate more interest among the super-rich is a $3.3 million SUV, which could break cover before 2025.

Buy a private jet, get a matching Porsche 911 Turbo S

Here’s an opportunity for the top 0.01% earners in the world. Porsche and Embraer are collaborating on a limited-edition project in which you buy a Phenom 300E private jet and get a matching Porsche 911 Turbo S to go with it.

If you can’t afford the approximately $10 million jet, then you won’t have the opportunity to buy a Porsche in this spec, either. Porsche and Embraer are calling this collaboration “Duet,” as the Porsche was specifically designed to pair with the jet’s styling and color scheme. There will only be 10 of these 911s ever made, which is probably a fine number considering the price of entry is about 50 times higher than that of a standard 911 Turbo S.

Porsche painted the upper part of the 911 in the same Platinum Silver Metallic as the jet is painted in. However, the two-tone jet necessitated the lower portion of the 911 be painted in Jet Grey Metallic. The Porsche also has the same strips of chrome and blue running along the lower portion of its body. All of this paint work and trim work is done by hand, similar to the painting process of the jet. Embraer and Porsche collaborated on a special logo for this pair, which the Porsche wears proudly. Its rear wing takes inspiration from the jet, too, as Porsche painted the underside blue and added the jet’s tail number to it: N911EJ.

The thoughtful and special touches don’t end there. Unique wheels are painted in Platinum Silver Metallic and have a blue rim line that was put there using laser technology. Even the chrome surround on the side air intakes are reminiscent of the chrome surround on the jet’s engines.

Inside, Porsche developed a special black/Chalk two-tone color scheme to match the seats in the jet. Even the steering wheel is two-tone, which is meant to copy the plane’s yoke design. More blue accents abound; the special logo is placed in a few spots, and the entire interior is hand-crafted. Porsche also placed an illuminated “No step” plate on the door sills to reference the same lettering seen on the plane’s wings.

There isn’t one aspect of this build that hasn’t been worked over with a fine-tooth comb. You get a special key painted in blue with the jet’s registration. The car cover says “Remove before flight” on it. You even get a custom watch and luggage set that perfectly matches the car. It all sounds fit for a billionaire or a multi-millionaire who likes to live large.

And in case you were wondering about the jet, it’s about the best you can get for a five-person, single-pilot private jet. With a range of 2,010 nautical miles and a cabin fit for a king, it’s about as dreamy as air travel gets.

Ford GT Road Test | Driving is believing

I finally got to drive the latest Ford GT. And everywhere I went, people were just as excited as me to see one – on the road, not on auction stages where the Faberge-rare Ford has fetched as much as $1.5 million.

Driving Ford’s 660-horsepower, 216-mph missile in New York was like being a street-corner dealer, handing out potent, “Code Orange” capsules of automotive bliss to car fans. People pulled cars over or formed eager knots every time I stopped. Two questions were on every quivering lip: “Where’d you get one?” and “How’d you get one?” And that was before the inevitable queries of what the car cost.

“I can’t believe it’s a Ford GT!” said one young man, just after I’d rocked the Ford on cliff-hung roads overlooking the Hudson River near West Point. These crazy reactions and the hypercar-style performance also softened my heart toward the GT. 

Many people, including me, had only ever seen a third-generation GT during its surprise, daylight robbery of the Detroit Auto Show in 2015. Auto scribes scoured the Internet thesaurus for superlatives. But like the only sober person in a room full of drunks, I was strangely unmoved. A $450,000 Ford? With an Ecoboost-branded V6, and its whiff of Eau de Dearborn?

Also, my heart still belonged to the second-generation GT of 2004-2006, pictured above. The retro-style, V8-powered GT nailed the underdog charm and Motown menace of the LeMans-winning racers. That included the Ford’s one-two-three podium sweep in 1966, the feel-good story given (finally) its mainstream due in last year’s Ford v. Ferrari. The crowd-pleasing film paid sepia-toned homage to car builder Carroll Shelby and British racer Ken Miles, breezing past the fact those original GT chassis were built in Britain. But following Miles’ death in August 1966, it was Shelby’s all-new Mk IV car that A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney piloted to 210 mph on the Mulsanne Straight to win LeMans in 1967. That Mk IV, powered by a Ford 427, remains the only all-American entry – design, build, engines, drivers – to win the 24 Hours. It also birthed the first street-going version: The oddball Mk III, with 306 horsepower from a Holley-carbed, 289-cubic-inch V8. With a 2,200-pound curb weight, the Mk III could still rip to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.

Only seven GT Mk III’s were built, ostensibly “priced” around $18,500 (or $138,000 in 2020 money). But there seemed a direct line between all previous GTs and the 2004-2006 model, with 540 horsepower and 205-mph peak from a supercharged V8. Ford asked me to drive that one from Detroit to New York in 2005. And its proud American-ness came in handy when I got pulled over in Pennsylvania for making mincemeat of the local speed limit. The Ford-driving cop totally let me slide, too busy enthusing over the car. It helped that this GT was priced from $143,000 – rich for a Ford, yet comfortably in Porsche 911 Turbo territory – and that the company built a reasonable 4,308 units.

Today’s GT seemed to break that historic link, psychologically and financially. To Ford’s credit, as with the latest Mustang, it didn’t simply rehash past glory with another retro take. Admittedly, the interstellar, carbon-fiber catamaran on display in Detroit looked amazing, from its scissor doors to its racing stripes. But when Ford started talking a $450,000 price, a 1,350-unit production run, and vetting buyers like fathers grilling a daughter’s prospective date, they kinda lost me. I thought Ford wanted to beat Ferrari, not join them.

24 Hours of Le Mans - Race

It all seemed a hermetically sealed marketing stunt. Was Ford out to satisfy real customers, or to bask in its own nostalgic reflection? That sense grew when Ford sent the GT back to LeMans for a dominating class win in 2016, its skids so greased by race rulemakers as to seem nearly pre-ordained. Ford decreed that owners would be prohibited from reselling their cars for two years. But it was Ford that poured gasoline on the secondary market and lit the match in the first place, via the air of unobtainium. Suddenly they were shocked (shocked!) that buyers might consider selling their appreciating cars to the highest bidder? Ford even sued Mecum Auctions and a few rogue owners to halt transactions, even as it trumpeted its own, track-only GT Mk II edition – a mere $1.2 million, limited to 45 copies. Hurry, billionaires, before they’re gone! Apparently, seven-figure GT sales are fine, as long as the money is going into Ford’s pocket.

It all seemed reminiscent of Lexus and its $375,000 LFA, another unreasonably exclusive, overpriced supercar that was more like a theoretical particle: Flashing into view like a Higgs-Boson, then disappearing back into the shadowy, quantum realm of collectors’ garages, never to be seen again.

And yet. The 2020 Ford GT I drove was the kind of wicked, transgressive fun that few modern supercars deliver. This press car, with nearly 16,000 miles on the odo, felt like a racecar that got lost en route to LeMans. The twin-turbo V6, now with 660 horsepower (up from 647), throbs with raw promise at idle. After a beat of turbo lag, it catapults the GT with thrilling focus, making occupants feel like a baseball from Clayton Kershaw’s hand. It fills the cabin, with its 43.7-inch-low roofline, with a thrash-metal shriek that drowns out conversation and human thought. The engine may as well be in your lap. The seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission isn’t the most sophisticated, but it still snaps through gears, as LEDs in the steering-wheel rim signal the 7,000-rpm redline, at which point the GT seems bent on sampling that 216-mph apogee. The rear-drive design helps handicap this car to a relatively modest 3.0-second sprint to 60 mph, despite sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. But a 10.8-second catapult through the quarter-mile, at 134 mph, tells the truer story.

Acceleration is a given among hypercars – yes, hypercars, as the GT reminds me far more of early Koenigseggs than run-of-the-mill Ferraris and Lamborghinis. What separates the GT is steering and handling. In an era of electronically mediated performance, the Ford’s is beautifully pure and unfiltered: Quicksilver steering guides the GT with millimeter-accurate precision, while transmitting every pavement ripple and nick through its Alcantara-wrapped wheel. Yet the car never feels darty or hair-trigger. Tire adhesion is ridiculous. The faster you go, the more the Ford bolts itself to the road, including its burly aero wing that pops up above 70 mph, and also acts as an air brake, in cahoots with carbon-ceramic stoppers. That rear wing, on hydraulic stanchions thick enough for service-bay duty, can be fixed in up or down positions. The adaptive suspension, with its trick Multimatic spool-valve shocks, is taut, yet it didn’t pound car or occupants to jelly through the gantlet of Brooklyn and Manhattan. It’s Multimatic that actually builds the GT in Markham, Ontario, including roughly one copy per month of a new Liquid Carbon edition. Its exposed carbon-fiber body adds $250,000 to the price.

After an epic driving day, I was simultaneously spent and giddy from sensory overload. Then, one last sensation: A firecracker boom as I wound through Harriman State Park, so loud that I thought the engine had blown. Ears ringing, I hopped out and found the glass panel, separating the engine bulkhead from the cabin, cracked in multiple places. I restarted the car, and though it limped the remaining 48 miles home to Brooklyn, it had almost no boost, and emitted a moan like a tubercular cow. I suspected the GT was running on one turbo or less, and the hunch seemed right: Ford later said a boot connecting a throttle body to a turbo had come loose. Violently, in terms of that busted window, but no lasting harm done.

The accessible, “everyday” supercar is the new industry target, from the Acura NSX and Porsche 911 Turbo to the various Ferraris and McLarens. That is not this car. Sensation aside, the Ford GT doesn’t care about your tender feelings. A shower of pebbles and road schmutz, kicked up by near-slick performance tires, churned through wheel wells, sounding like 100 rainsticks taped inside the cabin. The cabin, with its aggressive teardrop shape, is more like a space capsule. Strapping on a helmet would have forced me to scrunch down in the Sparco racing seat to fit my noggin inside. Press a switch to lift the bumper to clear steep driveways, and instead of the usual elevator hum, the Ford snaps crudely upward like the head of a Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robot. It does the same when dropped into aero-boosting Track mode, so low that a squirrel couldn’t limbo underneath. It looks badass, and unlike many “Track” modes, Ford’s really is for track only.

The interior is mostly crap for a $500,000 car. It proudly exposes the carbon-fiber monocoque, but it also has Garmin-like displays, an afterthought infotainment system and some switches that might pass muster in a Mustang. Seats are carbon-fiber buckets with no fore-and-aft or height adjustment, only a fabric strap that yanks the foot pedal box into proper range. And there’s essentially zero cargo space, only a bin aft of the engine that might fit a backpack, if it wasn’t already half-filled with a tire-inflator kit. The hardcore GT makes a Lamborghini Huracan seem like the family Audi in terms of luxury, comfort and versatility.

For all that, I now absolutely understand why a filthy-rich guy would park a GT next to his vintage racers, the Riva yacht and fourth wife. The GT drives like a Hollywood dream, one in which Ken Miles looks like Christian Bale, and Matt Damon was born in a Stetson. It’s a track toy no other boy has, an Ariel Atom times 10, but with a better backstory and a potential investment upside. I just hope said guy actually drives his GT, at least on fourth-wife anniversaries.

Is Ford’s “pinnacle of performance” really worth $500,000-and-up? The market says yes. Should Ford feel even a little bit ashamed of itself? I’ll let you answer that one.

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SSC will retry Tuatara top-speed record after doubts over initial attempt

The SSC Tuatara top-speed controversy is far from over. Jerod Shelby, founder and CEO of SSC, released a video where he says SSC is going to rerun the top-speed record.

This comes just a couple days after SSC said there was an editing issue on the video side that can account for the inconsistencies that bring into doubt the 331-mph top speed. You can watch the video at the top to get Shelby’s full statement.

“We were seeing different speeds for the very same run,” Shelby says in reaction to watching the videos back. “The more we looked, and the more we tried to analyze, the more we were concerned there were doubts in the relationship between the video and the GPS.”

Dewetron, the maker of the tracking equipment used for the run, still hasn’t analyzed the equipment, and at this point we don’t know if it ever will. Shelby thinks the level of controversy around this run is enough to totally rerun it.

“No matter what we do in the coming days to try to salvage this particular record, it’s always gonna have a stain on it … we have to rerun the record, we have to do this again,” Shelby says. “And do it in a way that it’s undeniable and irrefutable.”

Shelby says SSC will prepare for another run and do it in the “very near future.” This time, the Tuatara will have multiple GPS units from different manufacturers in the car. They will have the GPS companies’ staff onsite. Additionally, Shelby invited some of the YouTubers who called the record into question with video analyses in the beginning.

What this video didn’t do is completely explain what happened in the original runs. Instead, it effectively abandons those previous record claims in pursuit of a second top-speed run. There’s still no announcement on who will be doing the driving in this second run. Oliver Webb drove the Tuatara in the first run, but he has yet to come forward as the driver for the second run.

As it stands, the Tuatara’s original claimed 316 mph run is not going into the record books. We’ll be eagerly awaiting this second run.

Watch as the $2 million Rimac C_Two drives straight into a wall

Rimac is leveraging the power of software-based simulations to fine-tune the C_Two, but there is no substitute for real-world testing. It released a video that explains how its engineers are ensuring the electric hypercar keeps its occupants safe in an accident, and the work they’re doing to make it street-legal all over the world.

“Simulation of [the metal parts] are at a high level [of accuracy], but composites are an area that’s not very well known. The orientation of each composite part is important, because the materials behave differently in different directions, so it’s not so easy to simulate. We can get some overview of how a part will perform, and after the crash test I can immediately see how close my simulations were,” explained senior CAE engineer Martin Mikulčić.

After strapping in the dummies, Rimac launched the first prototype into a deformable barrier with a 40% offset at 25 mph. It then crashed a second car into the same obstacle at 35 mph. Both tests allowed the company to analyze a wide selection of parameters, including how the seat belts hold up and whether the pedals injure the driver. Petar Marjanović, the Croatian brand’s trim engineer, proudly pointed out the C_Two passed both tests.

Although the two cars look completely totaled, they performed exactly the way Rimac wanted them to. The front end was designed to absorb energy before it reaches the passenger compartment; it’s a giant crumple zone. Marjanović reported no cracks in the central carbon fiber tub, and even the footwells remained solid.

13 prototypes and five pre-series cars will be built in total, and 11 of these will be destroyed. Stuffing prototypes into walls is a horrendously expensive process, but it’s the only way to ensure buyers can register and drive the 1,914-horsepower C_Two regardless of where they live. Rimac admirably chose to certify the car to U.S. safety regulations so that American customers can own and register one normally, rather than apply for a special Show or Display exemption, for example. This painstaking attention to details also illustrates the firm’s commitment to taking on bigger rivals.

Rimac will put the final touches on the C_Two in the coming months, and production is scheduled to begin in 2021. Pricing starts at about $2 million before options enter the equation, and they often do, but the 150 units planned were spoken for about three weeks after the first prototype was shown to the public in 2018. It’ll be a rare sight, though it’ll be a lot more common than the Concept_One, which was limited to eight examples.

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SSC Tuatara top speed record video generates controversy leading to statements from SSC, Dewetron

An internet controversy has been brewing around the SSC Tuatara’s record-setting top speed run, and it’s all to do with the video (which we’ve included further down in this story) of the supposed record run SSC released. The Tuatara went 331.15 mph in its fastest run in one direction and 301.07 mph in its second fastest run in the opposite direction, as required for top speed records. This resulted in the average top speed of 316.11 mph, giving the Tuatara the title of fastest production car, a speed that completely annihilates the previous record set by the Koenigsegg Agera RS.

This speed was recorded using Dewetron GPS measurement instruments, the same tools used by others in their top speed record attempts, including the SSC Ultimate Aero in 2007, a previous holder of the fastest production car title. It’s an incredibly precise tracking system that is well respected and relied upon for world records like this one. In addition to that, two independent officials were on site as witnesses.

The thing is, some YouTube and internet sleuths managed to find some inconsistencies with the video SSC released. Their methodology? Use the Koenigsegg Agera RS’s top speed run made on the exact same stretch of road outside Pahrump, Nev., to compare the two runs. By using landmarks to track the distance and time elapsed in the video between those landmarks, you can get a rough average speed estimate. This can then be compared to the telemetry data that SSC has conveniently overlaid on its video. Feel free to watch Shmee150’s video about this, where he does the math. In the end, the data and footage don’t add up. The official video from SSC and Tuatara of the record run is below.

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Not helping the situation was some confusion about whether or not Dewetron had independently verified the data gathered. Dewetron released a statement that confirms that the company hadn’t examined the specific data, but that SSC did indeed use the company’s recording system for the testing. The Dewetron statement is below.

“Despite the information published on the website of SSC North America as well as on several related and non-related YouTube channels, DEWETRON did not validate any data from world  record attempts or preceding tests. Nobody of DEWETRON’s employees was present during the test drive or involved in the associated preparations. Since the results of measurement data highly rely on the right setup, on the regular calibration of the systems and sensors in use as well as on many other parameters, we are not able to guarantee the accuracy or correctness of  the outcome. As of this moment, DEWETRON did not receive the measurement file of the test drive. As a result of the absence during the test drive paired with the missing data, DEWETRON is not able to make any further statements about the world record attempt under question.

“However, DEWETRON knows that SSC uses the company’s test and measurement system–just like many other customers worldwide. As a part of DEWETRON’s customer service, we deliver all our systems with extensive training for future users. In the case of SSC, this happened remotely. Nevertheless, this training only includes the general use of the system, the software as well as the initial configuration.The training does not include the creation of any setup related to any given test. DEWETRON is a manufacturer of DAQ systems–the correct use underlies its  customers. This means that our customers are responsible for all test setups including this one.”

To get more clarification, we asked SSC if it could provide a response or explanation for what we’re seeing in the video. And it seems that the discrepancy came from a simple editing mistake, as Jerod Shelby explained in a long-winded official statement posted to the company’s website. We’ve pasted much of this below, but you can find the full document here.

“On October 19, the day the news broke, we thought there were two videos that had been released — one from the cockpit, with data of the speed run overlaid, and another video of b-roll running footage. The cockpit video was shared with Top Gear, as well as on the SSC and Driven+ YouTube pages.

“Somehow, there was a mixup on the editing side, and I regret to admit that the SSC team hadn’t double checked the accuracy of the video before it was released. We also hadn’t realized that not one, but two different cockpit videos existed, and were shared with the world.

“Hypercar fans have quickly cried foul, and we hadn’t immediately responded, because we had not realized the inconsistencies — that there were two videos, each with inaccurate information — that had been shared. This was not our intention. Like me, the head of the production team had not initially realized these issues, and has brought on technical partners to identify the cause of the inconsistency.

“At first glance, it appears that the videos released have differences in where the editors had overlaid the data logger (which displays speed), in relation to the car’s location on the run. That variance in ‘sync points’ accounts for differing records of the run.

“While we had never intended for the video captured to play the role of legitimizing the run, we are regretful that the videos shared were not an accurate representation of what happened on October 10.”

Driven Studios does have extensive footage of everything that transpired and is working with SSC to release the actual footage in its simplest form. We’ll share that as soon as it’s available.

So there you have it. There was a big misstep in the editing process, and so the video that was released didn’t match the data. While that’s a big goof when we’re talking world records, it certainly doesn’t invalidate the record, which as was previously reported, was done with independent witness to verify. In order to allay in any further suspicion, SSC is likely going to release the proper world record video soon. Not only that, but SSC says it’s currently in the process of submitting the Dewetron equipment and speed sensor for further analysis and verification of the equipment’s accuracy. And once the data is checked we should have a clear, final answer to the validity question.

Do check back to this story for updates, as we’ll keep adding them as we get them in real time until every last avenue has been explored.

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Donkervoort D8 GTO-JD70 R is only for the track, can pull 2.25 Gs

If the Donkervoort D8 GTO-JD70 wasn’t extreme enough for you, Donkervoort has news you’ll want to hear today. The Dutch company just released details on a track-only R version with even higher limits than the street car.

Donkervoort’s big number it bragged about previously was the 2.0 Gs of lateral grip it was capable of in corners. With the R, Donkervoort says it’s up to 2.25 Gs. You may need stronger neck muscles to effectively drive this car on track.

The improved performance comes from improvements and modifications made all around the car. It gets stiffer four-way adjustable dampers, stiffer springs, stiffer bushings, stiffer anti-roll bars and a lower ride height. To top it off, it’s fitted with Nankang slicks from the factory. Wet tires are available, too. 

Steering is improved with an optional shorter and adjustable power steering rack. A new 12-stage racing ABS braking system is onboard. Donkervoort also fits racing pads, fills it with racing brake fluid and has upgraded the rear brakes to a six-piston caliper design to match the six-piston clampers up front. Donkervoort says that the braking performance is much improved now that it doesn’t need to make the brakes perform on the street.

Power still comes from the same Audi 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder (415 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque), but Donkervoort has replaced the five-speed manual transmission with a paddle-shifted, six-speed sequential gearbox. Donkervoort claims the car is quicker, but the 0-62 mph time is unchanged from the manual at 2.7 seconds. Top speed is also the same at 174 mph. Regardless, the faster gear changes on track will likely save precious tenths or hundredths of a second. Plus, you can change up gears without having to lift. Donkervoort says the entire drivetrain has been strengthened to handle the extra demands on track. 

This car is safer in a crash than the street car, too. Side impact protection is increased by a higher percentage use of carbon fiber. It also adds a roll cage, six-point harness, FIA homologated bladder-style fuel tank with fuel absorbing foam and a kevlar-carbon-fiber protection blanket. Lastly, it has an upgraded fire extinguisher system (FIA spec), and Donkervoort will be working with drivers to get them custom race suits and helmets with HANS devices.

One negative that comes with all this extra equipment is more weight. The D8 GTO-JD70 R is 55 pounds heavier than the standard car, but that means it still only weighs 1,598 pounds. If you buy one of these, you can also expect the full hand-and-foot treatment from Donkervoort. They can provide every owner with data analysis and coaching while on track. You’ll also get help with logistics, as Donkervoort will provide a full selection of spare parts, tire services and transportation of the car to and from the track. You can even option a pit-to-garage communication system, allowing you to communicate to the pit wall while you’re out on track.

All of this will cost you €198,000. That’s the equivalent of $234,328, and that’s the price before tax. You can go crazy from there with different levels of track support and options.

De Tomaso claims it’s moving to America so we can relearn how to design cars

De Tomaso is a truly international carmaker. It was founded by an Argentinian racing driver, it’s ostensibly based in Italy, and it’s owned by a Hong Kong-based group of investors. Now, it has announced the next leap in its geographical game of hopscotch will take it to America, and it brazenly claimed it will bring global glory back to our industry.

“We’re deeply committed to returning America’s automotive industry to its golden era of design, and to the treasured respect it earned between the 1920s and the 1960s,” De Tomaso explained in a statement, one which firms like Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus could reasonably disagree with. It added its main goal is to create opportunity rather than compete with established American carmakers. Not out of consideration for its peers in an economic landscape that looks like a minefield, but simply because it positions itself a cut above everyone else.

Executives have crafted a long-term strategic plan called Mission American Automotive Renaissance (AAR), which outlines the process De Tomaso will follow to relocate its core production, design and corporate facility to the United States. Where? It’s too early to say, because talks with several state governments are ongoing.

An announcement is expected in the next six months. Meanwhile, engineers are continuing to fine-tune the P72 (pictured) developed jointly with Roush and introduced in 2019. It will be the first De Tomaso of the 2020s, and it will be built largely by hand in the state the company ends up calling home starting in the fourth quarter of 2022.

De Tomaso explained its decision to move to the United States was driven by the void it’s seen over the past several decades. It also wants to help reduce the skills gap in American automotive design and craftsmanship. And yet, it also plans to form strategic partnerships with major automakers and suppliers in the United States.

Has the American industry really not built anything noteworthy since the 1960s? Is it doomed to the point where it needs a little-known company that hasn’t manufactured a car in nearly two decades (and that has never developed its own engine) to step in and save it? Both of these rather off-color statements are debatable, but diving further into this matter would breach the scope of this story. We’ll wait to see whether De Tomaso can keep its word, or if it enters the history book as yet another cash arsonist that speaks a great deal but does little.

American roots

De Tomaso’s ties with the United States are decades-old. It sold the Pantera (shown above), a mid-engined coupe designed by Detroit-born stylist Tom Tjaarda and powered by a Ford-sourced V8, through Lincoln-Mercury showrooms between 1971 and 1974. About 5,600 units found a home in the United States before Ford pulled the plug on the project and sold its stake in the firm. Production continued without the Blue Oval’s input until 1992.

Did the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series set a new Nurburgring record?

According to well-known YouTube Nürburgring-watcher Misha Charoudin, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series likely set a new production car record at the famous German race track. According to the channel’s calculations, the 720-horsepower AMG GT Black Series likely crossed the finish line with around 6:43 showing on the stopwatch. If that’s true it would be a new record, taking top billing away from the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, which did the deed in 6:44.97. It also wouldn’t be a big surprise, since Mercedes was known to be honing the car at that exact track for years.

Instead of rehashing the great debate about the never-ending quest to set records at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, we’ll just recap a few highlights: Does it matter? Is it repeatable? Is it relevant to actual street performance? Do the mods that make it fast at the ‘Ring make it worse on the road? Now that those are out of the way, let’s add this unqualified statement: ‘Ring records are nothing if not impressive and newsworthy.

If Charoudin’s projected time is accurate — and he’s been on the mark in the past — we expect confirmation from Mercedes-AMG will be coming in short order. Probably with onboard video, and probably with much pomp and circumstance. We look forward to it.

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Meet the man who owns the fastest car in the world

Dr. Larry Caplin is shown here with the SSC team. He’s wearing the sport coat, at far left. Standing next to him is Jerod Shelby.

Now that the SSC Tuatara has snagged the top speed record at 316 mph, it’s time for other festivities. The owner of the Tuatara, Dr. Larry Caplin, is now on a mission to use the car’s time in the spotlight to raise $316,000 through his charity: CF Charities Foundation. The charity benefits community programs and services for children, helps out underserved schools, and funds college scholarships for first-generation students and aid military families.

We chatted with Dr. Caplin (who also owns the last SSC Ultimate Aero ever made) about his car, the record run and his charity. 

“They asked me if I wanted the first car,” Caplin told us as he explained how he ended up with the one and only production Tuatara in existence. “We both agreed that we would use my car to set the world record.”

In return for SSC being able to use his car for the record run, Caplin got to work directly with SSC’s designers and engineers on the car’s interior design. Caplin was inside the project with SSC a couple of years ago, shaping the styling and design to his own preferences.

He also gets to be the guy with the fastest car in the world, which is pretty damn cool on its own. Caplin jumped at the opportunity for his Tuatara to be the one used by Oliver Webb to set the record, too. He’s not one of those supercar collectors who keep their cars locked up.

“I drive my cars,” Caplin says. “I have a Lamborghini with 111,000 miles on it. I have a Ford GT with 56,000 miles on it …  I have a 185-pound South African Mastiff that rides shotgun.”

He hasn’t had his Tuatara up anywhere near where Webb took it to outside Pahrump, Nevada, but he has plans to push the envelope with it soon.

Caplin, as he’s doing now, likes to use his cars for charitable events, bringing them out to events, shows and other related things.

“I think it’s important for people who have collections like this to find a purpose other than it being a collection for themselves,” Caplin says. “I think it’s a responsibility to share it but also find value in it that far exceeds the cars, and I would hope that more people would do that.”

If you want to donate to the charity inspired by the Tuatara’s record run, you can do so on CF Charities’ website.

Here’s a Philadelphia TV station interview with Caplin from earlier this year when he unveiled the Tuatara at his hometown Philadelphia Auto Show:

With fastest-car bragging rights secured, SSC turns to expanding its lineup

Washington-based SSC snagged the top-speed record from Bugatti, but it’s not planning to rest on its laurels. It confirmed it will expand its lineup with a supercar that’s cheaper and less powerful than the Tuatara.

Speaking to Motor Authority, company founder and CEO Jerod Shelby said the car is called Little Brother internally. It will arrive with a mid-mounted, naturally-aspirated V8 engine tuned to develop between 700 and 800 horsepower, and SSC will charge between $400,000 and $500,000 for it. It’s too early to tell if the firm will take the twin turbos off the Tuatara’s 5.9-liter V8 and tune it accordingly, or if it will develop an engine from scratch.

To put these figures into perspective, the record-setting Tuatara that maxed out at 331 mph and averaged 316 mph on a cordoned-off stretch of highway in rural Nevada develops 1,350 horsepower when it’s burning pump gas and 1,750 horsepower when it’s slurping E85. It’s limited to 100 units, and each one starts at $1.9 million.

Shelby (who is not in any way related to Carroll Shelby, or to the company that bears his name) added the Little Brother will follow the design direction blazed by the Tuatara (pictured), which was penned with input from former Saab design director Jason Castriota. But while the development team has been working on Little Brother for the past couple of years, it won’t shift the project into high gear until about 2022, when the company reaches its goal of building 25 units of the Tuatara annually. That means the family might not grow until 2023 at the earliest.

SSC hopes branching out into more volume-oriented segments of the market will increase its name recognition. 

“Instead of one-tenth of 1% of the population that can afford a Tuatara, or any of these hypercars, the Little Brother would make it more in that range where you might see three or four in a lot of cities,” Shelby noted in an interview with CarBuzz. As for an SUV, he affirmed SSC hasn’t been interested in the segment.

Bugatti’s next new model looks part spaceship, part hypercar

2020 has been a busy year for Bugatti. It unveiled the Pur Sport variant of the Chiron, it began building the Divo, and it dusted off some of the fascinating prototypes it canceled in the 2010s. It has at least one more surprise up its sleeve, and it published a dark, perplexing preview image to give enthusiasts an early look at the model.

Bugatti captioned the sketch “what if…?,” which suggests we’re looking at a model that’s markedly different than the other cars in its range. We can’t imagine the French company would invite us simply to imagine what a Chiron with black wheels and gold brake calipers would look like. We’re intrigued by the shape of what looks like the rear lights: they form an X, and they don’t match the light signature worn by Bugatti’s other models. We’ve seen the X theme on the aforementioned Pur Sport, though the four strips of LEDs are also reminiscent of something you’d spot in outer space. It’s a very spaceship-like look that could hint at the brand’s next design language.

X marks the spot where what we know about Bugatti’s next car ends, and speculation begins. Working extra-long hours, the rumor mill recently brought us murmurings of an electric car possibly fitted with four seats. Could we be looking at it? Alternatively, some reports claim more Chiron variants are in the pipeline, and this might be one of them. What’s certain is that, whatever we’re looking at, it’s not an SUV; Bugatti stressed it won’t build one. Finally, it’s too early to tell whether the model is related to unverified claims that Rimac is preparing to buy the firm.

Bugatti will introduce the model online in the not-too-distant future.

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SSC took the production car top speed record, but not without a scare

Two gusts of wind cut across the Nevada desert, sending Oliver Webb and the SSC Tuatara across two lanes and onto the roadside rumble strips. That’s what happens when an unexpected cross-breeze comes by, and the speedometer’s needle is north of 300 mph.

Let’s hit rewind on the drama-meter real quick, though.

SSC, an American hypercar company owned and founded by Jerod Shelby, set out about 10 years ago to build the fastest car in the world. We covered the concept’s reveal back in the early 2010s, and we’ve kept tabs on the company’s progress ever since. Just this year, the first owner’s car made its debut at the Philadelphia Auto Show. Funnily enough, it’s that same car that SSC used on October 10 to set the record for the fastest production car in the world.

This record was supposed to be set a year ago. SSC had secured an initial location months in advance, but the state decided it wanted to do some road work at the same time, meaning SSC would have to wait until Spring 2020. Just like everybody’s spring plans this year, though, SSC’s were also wrecked. Covid-19 hit; the world shut down, and SSC was forced to wait once again. Shelby and company decided to aim for a fall run, and that’s exactly what happened.

A seven-mile stretch of State Route 160 outside of Pahrump, Nevada, was chosen and completely closed down. Prior to the record attempt, Webb made test runs on multiple airstrips with shorter stretches of pavement than what he’d experience in the full run. With everything turning up aces, the SSC team and Webb proceeded to the big day with high hopes.

Three levels of “success” were possible for the crew. For starters, they could break the Koenigsegg Agera RS’ record of 277.9 mph. Secondly, they could break the 300 mph barrier. And lastly, they could meet or surpass the Tuatara’s original project goal of going 500 km/h (311 mph). 

Weather was the biggest obstacle. The 5.9-liter twin-turbo V8 had been operating as it should, reaching 270 mph in one of those airstrip test runs. All 1,750 horsepower were present and accounted for. With blue skies above, an unexpected light breeze was the only worrisome roadblock. SSC had mapped the whole road previous to find every last seam, imperfection or potential trouble spot Webb might encounter. With this knowledge in hand, Webb could have total confidence in where he decided to crank up the speed.

World record officials loaded the satellite equipment into the Tuatara. Camera crews stood at the ready. It was an event, but up until now, it was also being held in relative secret. 

Webb lined up for his first pass. He proceeded to hit 287 mph.

“A good first sign,” Shelby tells us. Yes, beating the world record on the first attempt isn’t half bad.

Webb then takes the second pass, and he hits 301 mph. Just like that, SSC accomplished goal number two of breaking the 300 mph barrier. After this second pass, Webb voiced concern about the wind. He told Shelby that a cross-wind was hitting him in the middle of the desert, and also said that the next pass would be the last of the day for fear of the wind becoming worse. Safety, after all, is the number one priority.

So Webb hits it, and speeds off for his third and final pass. Shelby and his crew followed behind, but they were not ready for what was awaiting them at the end of the road.

“By the time we get there, he’s obviously out of the car,” Shelby said. “And he was sitting on the ground with his head down. And it didn’t look good.”

As he walked up, Jared said that Webb told him this: “I’m done Jared. I’ll never do that again. I got hit with two different blasts of cross winds, and it moved me two lanes over and into the rumble strips. I had a really close call.”

Shelby told us that Webb was truly shaken by the experience … but right after that, Webb said that he “saw a big speed on the display.” The crew immediately got into the data, and saw that he had hit 331 mph.

“It went from this emotion of we’re in trouble, to you’re kidding me,” Shelby said. “And it was just a really emotional moment. It was the culmination of 10 years.”

Hitting 331 mph meant that the average of the two consecutive runs was 316 mph, surpassing the team’s third and final goal of hitting 500 km/h. It completely shatters the current record and makes it that much tougher for anybody to beat the Tuatara in the future.

Shelby went on to tell us that he believes Webb’s close call was due to the winds picking up and being higher than the 10 mph they had decided was the cutoff zone. Thankfully, Webb kept control of the car and brought it down from speed safely.

Given perfect conditions, Shelby thinks there’s another 15 mph in the car. At least that’s what computer simulations show. Webb himself said the car was still gaining speed at a good rate as he approached 330 mph, too — the speed increased by 20 mph in the last five seconds before he let off. The crazy-low 0.279 coefficient of drag can be thanked for its ability to keep pushing through the air with anger.

The big question that remains is, what’s next? It’s a question that even Shelby doesn’t have a perfect answer for. This took a decade to accomplish.

“To me, what I love about this, is let’s just keep pushing the bar,” Shelby says. “Not that this is a challenge, but I think it’s great for innovation. And let’s see where it goes. I feel really good about what we have just achieved. I do think the car is capable of some more. I am satisfied with where we’re at right now.”

He finishes, “If somebody down the road pushes that top speed bar up, maybe we give it another go. We’ll see.”

Koenigsegg, you’re up.

SSC Tuatara smashes top speed record, goes way over 300 mph in Nevada desert

There’s a new “fastest production vehicle” in the world, and it’s produced by an American hypercar company. On October 10, the SSC Tuatara annihilated the previous record set by the Koenigsegg Agera RS. Over two runs, the Tuatara averaged 316.11 mph, smashing the Agera RS’ 277.9 mph average.

That average doesn’t tell the whole story, though. The Tuatara hit a top speed of 331.15 mph in its last run, setting the bar even higher for the highest speed achieved on a public road. Just let that sink in for a quick minute. 331.15 mph in a production car on the road. The Agera RS topped out at 284.3 mph, while a longtail Chiron prototype hit 304.77 mph on a test track. (Since the Chiron was not a production car and was run on a test track, that doesn’t count toward the official record.)

In case you were wondering, the Tuatara’s other run to complete the average was 301.07 mph. For these records to count, you must do consecutive runs in opposite directions within an hour of each other — this accounts for wind and elevation changes in the road. Officials (including Guinness World Records) were in attendance to independently verify all the data and confirm that SSC did indeed break the previous world record.

SSC chose a seven-mile stretch of State Route 160 near Pahrump, Nevada, as the driving location. As you’d expect, the entire road was shut down for the record attempt. Oliver Webb, a well-known racing driver, was chosen to pilot the Tuatara to its top speed. Wind was the biggest issue on the day of driving, and Webb thinks the Tuatara has even more speed left in its tank.

“There was definitely more in there. And with better conditions, I know we could have gone faster,” said Webb. “As I approached 331 mph, the Tuatara climbed almost 20 mph within the last five seconds. It was still pulling well. As I told Jerod [Shelby], the car wasn’t running out of steam yet. The crosswinds are all that prevented us from realizing the car’s limit.”

This record comes 10 years after SSC set a record with its first car, the Ultimate Aero. The Tuatara’s performance far outclasses the Ultimate Aero’s, and it put up the numbers to show it. Nothing about this specific SSC Tuatara is any different from a production version. In fact, this Tuatara is privately owned. It has the same flat-plane crank 5.9-liter twin-turbo V8 that powers all Tuataras. When run on E85 (as this one was), it’s capable of 1,750 horsepower. Running it on 91 octane lowers power to 1,350 horses. A seven-speed automated manual transmission does the shifting. 

The Tuatara’s aerodynamic profile (and of course the massive power) help it achieve the high top speed. The coefficient of drag is a crazy-low 0.279. Active aero helps it maintain similar downforce characteristics for the driver from low-to-high speeds. It’s one hell of a machine. 

For even more background on this historic top speed run, check out our deeper dive on SSC’s momentous (and scary) day breaking the record.

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Limited-edition McLaren Elva receives heritage-laced Gulf livery

McLaren tapped into its vast racing heritage to create a Gulf-themed version of the limited-edition Elva. Its partnership with the Pennsylvania-based oil company began in the 1960s, and it continues to this day.

Like every Gulf-colored car released over the past few decades, the Elva receives light blue paint with orange accents. It’s not the first model to feature this color combination, and it’s undoubtedly not the last, but it wears it particularly well. It’s not fitted with a windshield — it doesn’t need one, according to McLaren — so the separation between the exterior and the interior is blurred, and even the dashboard and the door panels are light blue.

Photos of the interior haven’t been released, but we spot a pair of white seats separated by a Gulf-colored panel. Oddly, the car is not equipped with a rear-view mirror. McLaren Special Operations (MSO) has already applied heritage-inspired paint colors to two examples of the Elva, and both wore a dashboard-mounted mirror.

McLaren announced plans to make 399 units of the Elva, but it dropped that number to 249 after analyzing feedback from its customers. Pricing starts at $1.7 million, and the Gulf-themed model displayed at the SpeedWeek event held on England’s Goodwood track illustrates one way to customize the roadster. MSO’s earlier creations paid homage to Bruce McLaren’s 1964 M1A race car and his 1967 M6A racer, respectively.

Ansar Ali, MSO’s managing director, explained the Gulf-colored Elva celebrates the renewed partnership between McLaren and Gulf. Customers are now able to order the historic blue and orange combination directly from the factory regardless of whether they’re buying an Elva, a 765LT, or another one of the British company’s models.

SpeedWeek starts today and runs through October 18. Spectators are exceptionally banned from the event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but you can catch all of the action online. We’re expecting to see a handful of new car launches, timed supercar laps, a huge auction, and, of course, dozens of race cars going flat-out.

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Lotus Evija shown in John Player Special livery at Goodwood SpeedWeek

Goodwood SpeedWeek is here, and Lotus is using the event to highlight the upcoming Evija electric hypercar. Lotus is calling this the car’s “public dynamic debut,” which is relatively true, though the lack of a public audience at Goodwood does put a bit of a damper on the idea.

Regardless, the livery used to wrap the Evija is what truly caught our attention. For those familiar with Lotus racing liveries of the past, you’ll immediately recognize it as a modern take on the John Player Special livery. Lotus even photographed the Evija in this livery sitting next to a few old Formula 1 cars wearing the original John Player Special digs.

Black and gold just looks proper on a Lotus racecar, and it looks absolutely superb on the Evija, too. Since this is technically a dynamic debut, Lotus also gave us a short video that you can check out below.

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The most intriguing part is the audio. Those electric motors are loud. It can’t come close to matching the yowl of a high output gasoline engine, but the Evija is clearly going to make its own dramatic, electric noise. That’s all well and proper, because extra theater is what electric cars typically lack.

In an adjacent news brief, Lotus detailed some of the things it did to save weight. Lotus believes that “Colin Chapman would agree the Evija is 100% a true Lotus.” To make it so, Lotus says the carbon fiber monocoque is extremely light, weighing in at just 284 pounds, contributing to making it the lightest electric hypercar when it comes out (not as though there’s much competition). 

Using holes and free space contributed to the lightweighting efforts, too. The venturi tunnels through each rear haunch both save weight and produce downforce. The center console design and floating dashboard leave tons of empty space behind where weight would accumulate otherwise. Lotus’ crossbeam design for the dash helps it serve as a structural member and also houses the interior ventilation system, combining two elements into one and saving weight.

Lotus says you’ll be able to see the Evija attack the Supercar Run on SpeedWeek, where it will attempt to set a fast lap time against many other new supercars and hypercars.

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