Inside the SSC Tuatara, the Fastest Production Car in the World -

Inside the SSC Tuatara, the Fastest Production Car in the World

 Inside the SSC Tuatara, the Fastest Production Car in the World

When driving at 60 mph, a vehicle is traveling about 80 feet per second, not quite the distance between first and second base. At 331 mph, it’s going nearly 500 feet a second. “You’re literally talking about not a football field, but a football stadium—tunnel to tunnel at Giants Stadium—in one second,” says car designer Jason Castriota.

Castriota knows about designing things that go fast. Following a stint at legendary Italian design consultancy Pininfarina, where he penned road cars, concept cars, and race cars for Ferrari and Maserati, he took on a contract gig with Washington state boutique supercar startup Shelby Supercars (now SSC North America). The goal of the founder, Jerod Shelby, who made a fortune engineering medical imaging devices used for the early detection of breast cancer, was to build a street-legal car capable of blasting along the earth’s surface at 500 kilometers per hour (312 mph.)

“Everyone wants to talk about a moonshot. That’s not an accurate term for most projects it’s applied to, which are just about identifying outrageous market segments,” says Castriota. “When NASA said they want to go to the moon, they knew where they were going. They just had to reverse engineer how to do it. We were in much the same position.”

On October 9th, the Guinness World record for the fastest production vehicle on Earth stood at 277 mph. On October 10th, on a seven-mile closed stretch of Nevada highway, driver Oliver Webb pushed the Castriota-designed $1.9 million SSC Tuatara hypercar to an average of 316 mph across its two best runs. Just for fun, it also crushed the 285 mph record for “Highest Speed Achieved on a Public Road,” with a single run of 331 mph. Both are records held by the Koenigsegg Agera—and technically still are, since the SSC’s run hasn’t been formally confirmed by Guinness. 

When Castriota’s not creating world-beating hypercars, he’s developing electric vehicles for Ford, including its forthcoming Mustang Mach-E SUV. “I firmly believe that EVs are the way of the future for mass transportation for all people,” he says. But in the meantime, “I think that there’s still a place in the world for a handful of people that want the most visceral, fire-breathing, dinosaur-burning experience,” Castriota says. Here’s how he helped engineer one last, hellaciously fast gasp of the combustion engine to break the production car speed record:

Slippery When Fast

Go speed racer, go.

James Lipman for SSC

Add Comment