Seven years after the concept made its debut at Pebble Beach, the production SSC Tuatara is finally here. And, impressively, it seems to deliver on exactly what was promised with the concept, from the exterior to the engine specs. The body looks nearly identical to that initial shape designed by Jason Castriota, the man behind the Bertone Mantide, Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and the Saab PhoeniX concept. It has the jet-fighter cockpit, rocket-like nose, and winglets at the back that could make a ’59 Cadillac jealous. The company claims it’s seriously slippery, too, with a coefficient of drag of 0.276, which the company also points out is slicker than the Bugatti Chiron, Koenigsegg Agera and Hennessey Venom F5. The only major change seems to be at the back, which features substantially more open grille-work, perhaps to cool the monstrous engine underneath.
The engine is a twin-turbocharged V8 with a displacement of 5.9 liters that Shelby Supercars co-developed with Nelson Racing Engines, a company that specializes in high-performance versions of GM, Ford and Mopar V8s. The turbos feed into dual water-to-air intercoolers, and fuel comes via pairs of injectors to each cylinder. The engine also features a flat-plane crank that likely helps it reach its screaming 8,800 rpm redline. Two power ratings are quoted for the engine. The first of 1,350 horsepower is the same as what the company quoted back in 2011, and it is achieved on 91 octane gasoline. The other is a shocking 1,750 horsepower, which is available when using E85 ethanol. Power goes to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automated sequential manual transmission.
SSC is also promising a potential record-beating top speed. The company says it’s confident it will hit roughly 300 mph with the car, which is substantially more than the less aerodynamic Koenigsegg Agera RS’s current record of 277.9 mph. It’s also the same top speed Hennessey is targeting for the Venom F5. We have reason to believe SSC can pull this off, since the company’s previous car, the SSC Ultimate Aero, held the official world record for top speed for a while in the mid- to late-2000s, beating the Bugatti Veyron.
We imagine a top speed run isn’t too far into the future, since the company says it’s ready to begin producing the Tuatara at its facility in West Richland, Wash. It’s also taking pre-orders right now for what will be a much larger production run than initially planned. Originally, SSC planned on building just up to 40 examples, but it will now build 100. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the company said the car would probably cost a bit over $1 million back in 2011. That may be higher now that seven years of inflation and such have passed.