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World's Fastest Production Car Battle Heats Up

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On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 9:17AM | By: Chris Weiss

World's Fastest Production Car Battle Heats Up

On a bright, sunny July 3 afternoon, Bugatti driver Pierre Henri Raphanel slowly fastened his helmet, pulled his racing gloves over his digits, and took the wheel for what would become a run of legend. With more than a little help from the ginormous, grumbling 1,200 hp W16 engine of the flamboyant, black-and-bright-orange Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, Raphanel set a new production car world speed record that was verified by the Guiness Book of World Records, who were there to witness the feat. His time? 268 mph, a full 12 mph over the previous record held by SSC Ultimate Aero TT. The only trouble for Bugatti now is that SSC is back with a new and improved Ultimate Aero and has its sights set squarely on Bugatti's new record. We'll see what type of supercar they'll be challenging it with in just a few short weeks.

Before the ink had barely dried on Bugatti's World's Fastest Production Car record, Shelby Supercars was already throwing out vague hints that it would soon be ready to defend its title. The company issued a statement congratulating Bugatti and intimating a showdown in the near future.

The intriguing part of the statement read: "“[W]e’ve been working on a new project to debut before the end of the summer. Not much can be said at this time except that we’ll be upping the ante on all fronts. Having famed American designer Jason Castriota as our lead design enables SSC to reflect its engineer and performance in its aesthetics. It’s impossible for us to be more thrilled about having him on board and we’re anxious to show the world what we have up our sleeve.”

When you're a small supercar manufacturer that prides itself in producing the world's fastest car, we can only take "upping the ante" and "up our sleeve" to mean a car that is capable of attempting a super-268-mph run. Castriota, who's served lead on such greats as the Maserati Birdcage and Ferrari 599, is expected to inject even more "aero" into the car.

Today, SSC announced that it will be debuting the design model of the new Ultimate Aero at Boeing's Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA on August 8. You think they're trying to make a statement about speed and lightweight engineering with that venue? Unfortunately, no photos will be allowed during the event.

Shelby Supercars Ultimate Aero TT set the record for fastest production car in the world in the fall of 2007, with a run of 256 mph, breaking the Bugatti Veyron's record of 253 mph. It became the first American company to hold the title since Ford did it with its GT40 back in 1967.

The Ultimate Aero TT featured a 1,183-hp twin-turbo V8 engine that put out 1,094 lb-ft of torque. The car earned its "Aero" moniker by limiting the coefficient drag to .357, with wind-tunnel testing indicating the vehicle would be aerodynamically stable at speeds of up to 273 mph.

A year after the Ultimate Aero broke the record, in December of 2008, SSC upgraded to a 1,287-hp block V8 and redesigned the front fascia. The upgraded supercar was purportedly capable of speeds up to 270 mph, but never set a record.

SSC has not indicated what changes will be coming to the new Ultimate Aero, but given the paperwork on past iterations, it should be a worthy competitor to the Veyron Super Sport. It looks as though Bugatti and SSC will be swapping records for a while.

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