Did the SSC Tuatara actually hit 331 mph?

Not long ago, the Internet was abuzz with the news of an incredible speed achievement. SSC had driven its Tuatara to wild speeds. We’re talking a top speed of 331 miles per hour in one direction and then a 301 mph run in the other. That would translate to an average of 316 mph and a new world record for a production car. There’s multi-angle video showing the run and it’s served up in high-definition right on your screen. And that, friends, is where the problem starts.

Youtuber Shmee, best known for his never-ending parade of sports and supercar ownership, has published a video that looks to question the validity of the Tuatara high-speed run. And Shmee isn’t just tossing out accusations here. Instead, he sets out to question this whole thing using actual math. There are clear points on the road where this run takes place, and calculating time in the video to cover these distances helps him arrive at speed figures below what the car should be doing.

It’s not just the video though, as Shmee also calls out the actual mechanical capability of the car. The gear ratios are known as is the engine redline and tire size. That means we can determine what this car should be capable of running. And once again the math does not add up.

To add to this, Misha and Robert from Apex Taxi at the Nürburgring have a video that examines the run in the same manner as Shmee’s video:

Initially, there was word that the GPS data company utilized to capture the hard data for SSC was stepping up to claim the record as valid. But SSC has since issued an update to the story. It says that the video used doesn’t depict the accurately tracked record-setting run. That’s a fair statement, as an on-site video team would be capturing a wealth of footage from an event like this. CarThrottle has spoken to the driver Oliver Webb and SSC independently and is bringing more information from both sides of the table.

SSC says that the gear ratios used by Misha, Robert, and Shmee aren’t accurate. It’s since released information on the gearing it says is in their car, which would support the claims of a shot at the speeds discussed.

There’s also talk of raw onboard footage being released. And proper verification of the GPS data would go along way to eradicating talk that this record isn’t on the up and up. We hope this is a case of bad choices in footage and not an attempt at falsely laying claim to a wild performance speed record. But the math and diligence of checking up on this is important.

I mean, it is if you care about this. SSC should definitely be held accountable here though, and good on Misha, Robert, Shmee, and CarThrottle for doing just that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

5 responses to “Did the SSC Tuatara actually hit 331 mph?”

  1. crank_case Avatar

    The debate itself is interesting, but nothing could make me sit through more than 30 seconds of Shmee. Both sides have motivations so I can’t really trust either till someone a little less annoying and little more knowledgeable that hasn’t latched on to some reddit pixel counters weighs in. SSC obviously have a reputation at stake, but these youtubers obviously get a lot of oxygen out of this controversy. If they’re right, big win. If they’re wrong, simple retraction and the world forgets about it on the next news cycle but loads views in the meantime – no downside.

    It’s interesting that no other manufacturer has challenged it, I mean Porsche had no issue throwing shade at Nissan last time a ring record was up for grabs, but maybe they’re happy to let some youtubers get into the fray on their behalf.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      Yeah, I couldn’t tolerate much more than 30 seconds of that Shmee video, either. I could maybe forgive that guy’s smiley enthusiasm if he could get his tongue out of his teeth, but lisps are like nails on a chalkboard for me. Actually, no, he’s annoying regardless. He might have some convincing math tucked away in that video, but I’m not suffering through 20 minutes to find it.

      What’s difficult to argue against is that speed is so directly calculated from distance and time, both which seem to be pretty clearly indicated here. Forget dash errors, gear ratios, final drive ratios, etc. Distance over time is average speed, no matter whether you’re in a supercar, on a bike, or walking.

  2. Lokki Avatar

    This argument is so far from having any relevance to me that we may as well be debating how many angels can roller skate on the head of a pin. I am kind of burned out on the horsepower wars, and on the top speed wars as well. With 0-60 down to around 2 seconds flat, 11 second quarter miles being common, and many street cars easily cruising at over 150 mph (if you’re willing to pay for the tires), it’s begun to remind me of the end of the Hi-Fi wars. My high-end hand-built power-amp and pre-amp introduce less than .0001 percent distortion into the signal…. but nobody can actually hear the difference between .001 and .0001, so, so what?

    Where in the real world is the difference between a 3 second 0-60 and a 2 second 0-60 perceptible and if it is, does it matter? The same for any speeds over 140 – 150 mph. Out here in Texas (specifically West Texas) driving 100 mph is no big deal and driving in the wastelands of Nevada I’ll probably be happy to cruise at 120, but over 150 mph things start happening pretty fast as anyone who has ever smacked a tumbleweed will tell you. So, I’m not sure there’s much relevance in the difference between a car that will hit 200 vs. a car that will hit 300 mph.

  3. neight428 Avatar

    Bragging rights are worth a lot. Why that is, I couldn’t tell you, but it definitely motivates way more effort than I can get my head around. Falsifying a claim would seem to be counterproductive, but publicity, blah, blah, blah…

    I’ve probably said this here before, but I had a 2014 Mustang GT for a while. I’m but a humble semi-hoon with minimal inclination to devote resources to actual racing. I enjoy effortless acceleration on the highway as much as anyone, but that car made me realize the limits of having ridiculous power on the street. I probably made one or two acceleration runs from a near stop where I was at ~80% effort in the entire time I owned it, and that was something that you really have to work pretty hard to find a place and time to do it quasi-safely and quasi-legally. Stack up another few hundred hp on top of what that car had and you’re just flat not going to use it except for the half second quicker it took you to get to 120 when you passed a semi truck out in the middle of nowhere that one time.

    Top speed is even less meaningful.