By now, we're fairly positive you know all about the SSC Tuatara. It's probably not for the reasons SSC would like, though some would argue that any publicity is good publicity. Claiming a top-speed record then admitting the footage was fudged isn't good, especially after the company SSC used to gather speed data refused to confirm that data. In short, SSC's 316-mph run was tossed out.
Now, we suspect the Tuatara will again be a topic of conversation, and it's still not the talk SSC would prefer. However, once you move past the surface of what apparently is a second failed attempt, two things seem clear. For starters, SSC seems dedicated to backing up its 300-mph claim in a transparent manner. And secondly, the Tuatara seems very capable of getting there. More on that in a bit.
The Tuatara Controversy:
The niche company pledged to make a second top-speed record attempt, and that attempt allegedly to took place at an undisclosed runway in Florida back on December 12 and 13. YouTubers Shmee150, Robert Mitchell, and Misha Charoudin were invited to attend, though due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Mitchell was on-site for the action. His experience is chronicled in the video at the top of the article, and we'll say this much – he doesn't leave any stone unturned. Still, we only have his word to follow right now, as SSC offers no official announcement on the attempt.
Gallery: SSC Tuatara becomes the fastest production car
That said, here's a summary of Mitchell's experience. The record attempt was planned for December 13, using the same car from the previous run only this time, its actual owner would be behind the wheel. As such, December 12 was set aside for familiarity runs because the owner – who apparently has some racing experience – had little time in the Tuatara. Unfortunately, rain literally made that prep day a wash, so all the test runs were held on Sunday.
That's where the problems started, because consecutive runs building up to 300 mph led to considerable heat soak in the engine. The car was also laden with electronics and sensors monitoring speed, location, and a bazillion different engine parameters. Mitchell says five different GPS systems were in use, including two Racelogic systems being monitored by a Racelogic official, so kudos to SSC for not leaving anything to question.
See The Tuatara In Action:
However, all the monitors and all the wiring led to a second problem. In short, the engine cover kept popping open due to the wires running back and forth into the cockpit. It was a minor inconvenience, but it led to various temperature monitoring equipment being unplugged. That led to excessive heat soak, and that ultimately led to two spark plugs failing on what would become the final run of the day, still in the buildup phase. Bummer.
However, here's where things get interesting. Mitchell says SSC had the boost turned down while the driver was getting acclimated to the car, so it was already at reduced power. On that final run, the Tuatara reached 251.2 mph using just half the runway. At that point, the driver felt something was amiss with the engine so he lifted, and that turned out to be two failed spark plugs. So yeah, the Tuatara did 251 mph on reduced boost and two dead cylinders.
Say what you will about SSC's first attempt and the controversy surrounding it. The Tuatara is still incredibly fast, and in his video, Mitchell says he thinks it's capable of setting a production car top-speed record. Whether it can average 316 mph, however, is still questionable.
A third attempt is reportedly in the planning stages. The saga continues, but in the meantime, Mitchell's account of the event is full of interesting information and absolutely worth watching.