Saturday, March 14, 2009

SSC Ultimate Aero TT: The Fastest Car in the World

The title of World’s Fastest Production Car is back on the table. Over the past five years, this title has changed hands time and time again, going from Britain’s McLaren to Sweden’s Koenigsegg to the king of supercars, the Bugatti Veyron. Its next move will see it travel across the Atlantic Ocean to a small super car maker founded in Washington State, SSC.

SSC, or Shelby Super Cars (unrelated to Shelby Automobiles of Carroll Shelby fame) has more or less one goal as a carmaker: to make the world’s fastest cars. A close look at their Ultimate Aero TT shows how serious the brand is, making few concessions to luxury or convention in order to claim the highest top speed. The slippery, wind-tested-to-perfection carbon fibre body weighs just 60 kilos (132 lbs), while the car has a curb weight of just 1,250 kg (2,012 lbs) and is moved along by an engine that could be described as making nothing short of brute force.

The powertrain that SSC has chosen for the Ultimate Aero is in direct contrast to the ultra-complicated setup used in the Veyron, with its four turbochargers and special 7-speed twin-clutch DSG gearbox. Mounted midship is the LS6 engine found in the previous generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06, but with a larger displacement that’s been bumped to 6.3 litres. With pushrods and two valves per cylinder, the engine doesn’t boast any new-fangled technologies, but it’s tried, tested and true, and what’s more it’s capable of providing the power reliably. The engine also receives two high-pressure turbochargers to deliver its astronomical output of 1,183 horsepower and 1,094 lb-ft of torque. The Veyron makes “only” 1,001 horsepower and 922 lb-ft of torque.

All of this power is fed through the rear wheels by a regular non-automated manual transmission (with a clutch, no less), and the car doesn’t have any fancy electronics to help aid the driver along to its top speed. No, it doesn’t have launch control, stability control or even traction control, features that you’d see in a Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini.
This has therefore allowed the Ultimate Aero TT to attain a top speed of 411.89 km/h (253.88 mph) over a two-way average with a peak one-way speed of 413.94 km/h (257.11 mph). What is interesting is that the record wasn’t set at the Nardo high-speed bowl, the Ehra-Lessein VW test facility or even the Bonneville Salt Flats, the usual locations for record setting. No, SSC broke the record on a regular public road in Washington State that was cordoned off by police.

For now the record hasn’t been officially verified by Guinness, but when it does SSC will become the new world record holder. The Ultimate Aero TT also happens to be the world’s most powerful production vehicle.

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