When we first covered the limited-production supercar known as the SSC Ultimate Aero, it had just laid claim to the title of fastest production car in the world. More recently, Shelby SuperCars announced it would install an electric drivetrain and thereby make the SSC the world's fastest electric car as well.
We have yet to see the electric version, and as of late June, the new Bugatti Veyron Super Sport had snatched away the production car speed crown from the Ultimate Aero. But SSC was in Monterey for this year's global pilgrimage of car nuts, and we were able to get some seat time in the car that was the world's fastest for almost two years. It's not an experience for the faint of heart.
SSC was founded in 1998 by lifelong car enthusiast Jerod Shelby, a trained mechanical engineer who had previously helped start a medical-device company. For the record, he is no relation to that other automotive Shelby, but one can be forgiven for assuming a connection based on each company's humble origins as one man's vision, not to mention their penchants for producing seriously hairy-chested machinery.
The Ultimate Aero is a beast by any measure. Its SSC-designed 6.8-liter engine is based on a billet aluminum block, and twin turbochargers boost output to a heady 1,287 horsepower and 1,112 pound-feet of torque, according to current figures on the company's site. Serious rubber is required to keep that power reasonably useful, and that helps push the overall width of the car to nearly 7 feet. Again, the timid or twitchy need not apply. … Read more