The SSC Ultimate Aero is a high-performance supercar built by Shelby SuperCars in 2006. The souped-up, even faster version of this car, the SSC Ultimate Aero TT (TT standing for twin-turbo) is currently the fastest production car in the world with a confirmed top speed of 257 mph (413 km/h). To many, this car represents the pinnacle of automotive engineering, and a redemption of the American sports car, while others don't even find it worthy of mention when compared to its European competition. Personally, I like it.
The first prototype of this car was built in 2004 and included a Supercharged Corvette ZR-1 engine mated to a 6 speed manual transmission from a Dodge Viper. When put into production, however, the base model (The SSC Aero) of this car sported a supercharged Ford Small Block V8 rated at 1,062 horsepower and 1,001 ft-lb of torque with the supercharger running at 8 psi. The Ultimate Aero came with increased displacement (6.4 litres) and more boost (14 psi) making this version of the engine put out 1,146 horsepower and 821 lb-ft of torque. To put this in perspective for any non-gearheads out there, the average automobile on public roads is rated at about 150-200 horsepower, with more than 250 horsepower being considered a "fast car". In 2007, the supercharger was replaced by a twin-turbo system. This turned out to be the key element, as this new engine was rated at 1,183 horsepower and 1,094 ft-lb of torque; this was the setup that won this car its place in history as the World's Fastest Production Car.
The 2009 model of this car is supposedly capable of reaching 272 mph without a problem, though no official test has been conducted. The new model also has a new braking system that works by raising a spoiler up to a height of 8 inches as well as a redesigned interior and a more aerodynamic exterior. This newer model is said to be capable of reaching 60 from a stand still in 2.7 seconds.
The numbers are undisputed, the SSC Ultimate Aero TT IS the fastest production car in the world. Yet critics aren't raving. Automotive journalists aren't lining up to fela- well let's just say they're not going crazy. Why is this, I wonder? When Audi decided to flex their engineering muscle by creating the Bugatti Veyron in 2005, it was all the rage, and that
only went 254 mph! Why has everyone stopped caring all of a sudden?
Allow me to explain. Shelby SuperCars is an All-American company. Think about what the world (including Americans) thinks about American-made cars. Usually a few words come to mind: cheap, poor quality, gas guzzling, inefficient, horrible handling, etc. How many of these words do you think REALLY accurately describe American-made cars today? American-made sports cars are no different. For years they have been branded by the Europeans and the Asians as out-dated, inefficient masses of steel hurling around corners with no poise or grip to speak of. The world doesn't respect the SSC Ultimate Aero because of its ancestors and their horrible reputations.
The second reason why this car hasn't gotten much attention is simple: Audi already did it. With the Bugatti Veyron, Audi proved the 240 mph limit of the McLaren F1 was not the fastest a human could go in a road-legal production car. It's over, we've won, we've done the impossible, great. The glory is gone.
No, I have not ever personally driven this car. No, I have never seen it race a Bugatti or a Ferrari or anything like that. No, I can't tell you how it handles, because I haven't driven it myself, but I don't need to physically drive a car to respect it as a machine worthy of great reverence, just as I respect any fast car regardless of make or model. It's time for the world to wake up and recognize an accomplishment for what it is, rather than who did it. Americans CAN make quality cars, we just need to be willing to try them.