The Tuatara has been in the works for over five years now. Finally, Shelby SuperCars (SSC) North America gave a green light for the debut of this supercar at the Philadelphia Auto Show on February 7. The Washington-based high-performance manufacturer announced that the production will be limited to just 100 units.
You might remember SSC winning the Guinness World Record for the fastest production car in the world from 2007 to 2010 with the Ultimate Aero. The same team is dead set on proving it once again with the Tuatara. CEO Jerod Shelby said that the team had to reflect on the achievements that they set out to accomplish. With legendary designer Jason Castriota on the helm, who is the one responsible for most of the modern Ferraris and Maseratis, the hypercar has excelled in both form and function.
The immediate thing you’ll notice with the car is that there is a lot of carbon fiber. The skin, bumpers, doors, interior panels, this stuff is everywhere. This makes the car extremely light, with just over 2700 lbs of weight on a 105.2-inch wheelbase. The carbon fiber also helps in the effective dissipation of heat when the car picks up speed. The Tuatara features active aerodynamics that helps it possess a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.279. According to Jason, this makes the driver have confidence whether the car is going at 100 mph or 300mph.
The SSC Tuatara started out codenamed as the ‘Exceed’ project. This moniker certainly holds true for the powertrain. Collaborating with Tom Nelson of Nelson Racing Engines, the Tuatara was equipped with a flat-plane crank twin-turbocharged V8. It makes 1,350 hp from 91 octane fuel. Put in E85 and you get a mind-boggling 1,750 horsepower, setting a revolution in the potential of hypercar powerplants.
Of course, all that power is no good if it cannot be controlled. SSC pairs this behemoth of a V8 to a CIMA 7-speed AMT transmission. When Track mode is engaged, it can shift between the gears in less than 100 milliseconds, thanks to its electronic shifting capabilities. A few more systems like adaptive damping suspension, adjustable ride height, electronically-assisted power steering, and electronic limited-slip rear differential give the driver the purest handling characteristics of any hypercar in existence.
For all its performance prowess, the Tuatara does not lack in style. As the New Zealand reptile it is named after, it is peculiar, to say the least. A button push actuates the hydraulic dihedral doors to open right up. The overall design contains reminiscents of the Ferrari Enzo and the F50 from the front and rear, respectively. The mid-engine design means you could see its beating heart in its full glory when you open up the rear clamp.
As for the interior, it breaks the mold for other hypercars and is surprisingly spacious. Taller drivers won’t have a problem when seated inside the cabin, even with a helmet on. The passenger-side seat is cozy as well. With creature comforts like climate control and tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, you can spend hours on your favorite racetrack without breaking a sweat.
The infotainment system consists of a Human-Machine Interface(HMI) driver display. No, it is not like Terminator or Skynet. It is a system designed to provide the most crucial information to the driver without becoming too invasive for the driving experience. The central console houses an HD touchscreen that takes care of both multimedia and navigation. The custom paddle shifts, accessible buttons and toggles, and the touchscreen are all ergonomically designed for minimal distraction from the road ahead. There are no specs available for the audio system, though it is a redundant feature at worst and a delightful distraction at best.
Excessive carbon-fiber also makes the Tuatara much safer. The monocoque chassis is both light and durable, able to withstand the worst of impacts. However, since that scenario would cost you a fortune to replace the whole body, SSC equips the Tuatara with several cameras pointed towards the blind spots of the car to make it easier when backing out of a busy driveway without any nicks or scratches to the car’s elegant exterior.
There is no clue as to how much the Tuatara will cost to own. But as they say, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Since only a hundred of these will ever be built, the Tuatara is well on its way to becoming a collector’s item. The lack of performance specs means there is still time till it makes record=breaking speed runs across the Utah salt flats. One thing’s for certain - it won’t disappoint.
5.9L Twin-Turbo V8
|Power output(hp)||1750 @ 8800|
|Transmission||7-Speed Robotic Manual|