SSC Wants to Re-Run Tuatara Hypercar’s Controversial Top Speed Record Attempt

Amid conflicting videos and data questions, SSC wants a do-over.

There’s no question car builder and medical equipment inventor Jerod Shelby (no, not part of that Shelby family) is fast, but the mismatched videos and GPS data he provided raised a plethora of questions and proved insufficient to qualify his run for the Guinness Book of Records. 

So Shelby released a self-shot video Friday apologizing for the mess, and pledging to make the run again, this time with reliable video and data. Whether driver Oliver Webb will again be involved is unclear.

To recap: The Tuatara, named after an ultra-rare, ancient, lizard-like creature in New Zealand, is a Jason Castriota-designed supercar that wants a slot in the marketplace next to Bugatti and Koenigsegg, powered by a 1,750-horsepower twin-turbo V8. Shelby plans to sell 100 of them for $19 million and up, but he really needs that land speed record for a street car certified by Guinness.

That’s what SSC tried to do in the beginning of October. Immediately the run on the Nevada desert Highway 160—which claimed a record after a 316 average of two runs and a 331 mph top speed—garnered big headlines in both the automotive press and the mainstream media. But rather quickly, questions about the run arose, prompted by online critics and YouTubers who found inconsistencies in the speeds displayed in the videos from the run. 

SSC had to admit its media partner released different videos from the test and that there were issues in syncing the data log with the video feed. Then SSC had to deal with GPS company Dewetron distance itself from the run and deny that it had “validated” the claimed record. (Check out our previous coverage for a rundown of the controversy here.) 

“If you’re watching this video, you are probably already aware of the controversy surrounding the speed record that this car set just a few Saturdays ago,” Shelby said in the video released last night. 

After gathering the evidence himself, Shelby said he “figured out that I had dropped the ball.” The next run, in the “very near future,” will be “undeniable and irrefutable.” Shelby told Motor Authority it’s not clear when the run will happen, but that Guinness won’t be there for the next attempt, nor does the automaker have a driver secured for it. 

As expected, some of the online critics have filmed their own reaction to Shelby’s video, with one praising Shelby for having the “balls” to admit the run had issues and pledging to rectify them. 

But SSC now faces a great deal of doubt as to whether his limited-volume, super-expensive boutique hypercar—a world often filled with shady claims—can deliver on its promises. We’ll get the popcorn ready for when they try again.