In 1894, when the Benz Velo (or Velocipede) was becoming the world’s first large-scale production car, its record-breaking maximum speed was an Earth-shattering 12 mph (19 kph). Things have changed quite a bit during the following 126 years, as the latest Vmax king has become the 2020 SSC Tuatara with a 316.11 mph (508.73 kph) average between two runs in the opposite direction. And a maximum achieved the speed of 532.93 kph (331.15 mph) in just one order…
It’s quite important to note both values, as SSC North America seemingly wanted to make sure there were no detractors when it reclaimed the mighty “Fastest Production Vehicle” title for its newly minted 2020 Tuatara. Just remember the bickering between fans of the Koenigsegg Agera RS and the Bugatti Chiron, and you will understand why.
Let us explain to set the record straight for the last time. Our story goes back to 1993, when the McLaren F1 was allegedly posting different top speeds: 211 mph (unmodified), 221 mph (rev-limiter estimated rate by Car and Driver), or even 240 mph (without rev-limiter, average). So, cause for controversy, if you ask us.
Then, in 2005, the Bugatti reign began – first thanks to the Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4, the first series-production car to officially register more than 400 kph as it settled at the 253.81 mph / 408.47 kph mark. It was recorded and verified by German inspectors, not by the world-recognized Guinness. Again, we’d say it offered enough fuel for a small debate.
Next up came none other than SSC North America, founded by Jerod Shelby initially as Shelby SuperCars. They changed the moniker to identify itself against the more renowned Carroll Shelby International, an unrelated automotive firm.
They quickly broke into the automotive spotlight in 2007. Their earlier hypercar, the Ultimate Aero TT, was crowned by Guinness World Records with the fastest production car title after an average between two runs in opposite directions was clocked at 256.18 mph (412.28 kph).
In 2010 Bugatti called Guinness for the return match and repositioned itself at the top of the chart with the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport World Record Edition, driven by Pierre-Henri Raphanel to a 431.072 kph (267.856 mph) two-way average. Interestingly, nothing to comment on here because out of the 30 cars produced, five had the top speed limiter removed and could (potentially) hit the same speed.
When 2017 came, it was time for a new player to enter the fray – Koenigsegg’s Agera RS posted quite a few records in different categories on a closed stretch of highway in America. The all-important world’s fastest production car title, achieved through a 447.19 kph (277.87 mph) run. One of 11 using the 1 MW (1,341 hp) version of the base engine – was driven by Niklas Lilja.
Next, up there has been quite a lot of debate if Bugatti’s unrestricted prototype of the Chiron Super Sport 300+ special series should be included in the duel, as the French automaker took the car to Germany’s Ehra-Lessien test track and achieved a maximum velocity of 304.773 mph (490.484 kph) at the hands of Andy Wallace. Why is that? Well, we all know the story – there was just one pass, as the company argued that a return run was unsafe…
Actually, both Koenigsegg and Bugatti aren’t beyond any shadow of a doubt – as the former was only verified by Racelogic (although it adhered to Guinness rules), and the latter did not post an average between two runs.
Cue back to 2020 and the 1,750hp Tuatara, which – hopefully – will settle the debate for the time being. SSC seemingly made sure all detractors will be silenced and opted for quite the show of force – the hypercar was chased not only by a helicopter, but also a jet aircraft (a subsonic T-33, but still)!
More importantly, it ticked all the right boxes to prove it’s the new world’s “Fastest Production Vehicle,” with the list available for eager consultation in the press release we attached at the bottom, after the break. The 2020 Tuatara – one of 100 intended for series production – using street tires, non-race fuel, and with professional racing driver, Oliver Webb at the wheel nailed the record-breaking run on October 10th, just as we suspected.
Its official speed – recorded on a seven-mile stretch of State Route 160 outside of Las Vegas, Nevada – stands at exactly 316.11 mph (508.73 kph) when it comes to the average between two runs in opposite directions. Speaking of absolute maximum velocity, the U.S. hypercar managed no less than 331.15 mph (532.93 kph)!
By the way, soon we are going to see the entire story of this incredible achievement, as SSC North America itself and their new Tuatara have been followed for years by the filmmakers at Driven Studios, who are diligently preparing a documentary – and there’s a snippet of what to be expected in the video embedded below.