Not to be confused with Carroll Shelby, the automotive racing and design legend often associated with Ford Motor Company, SSC (think Shelby Super Cars) was founded by automotive enthusiast Jerod Shelby (no relation) in 1999.
SSC is based in Tri-Cities, Washington, the hometown of Jerod Shelby, and also the site where the supercar maker produces its vehicles - making it the only supercar maker currently producing vehicles in the U.S.
first vehicle to be born from the engineering and creative prowess of SSC's team was the Ultimate Aero, which arrived in 2007 after seven years of development. That same year the SSC Ultimate Aero went on to set the world record (as verified by Guinness) for the fastest production car, a feat that instantly shot the SSC brand into discussions with the likes of competitors like Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Koenigsegg.
The SSC Ultimate Aero boasted a set of specs that would make any automaker jealous, including a zero-to-60 time of just 2.78 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 9.9 seconds at 144 miles per hour, a tested top speed of 257.41 mph and a projected (via NASA wind tunnel) top speed of 273 mph.
While the Ultimate Aero was certainly built for speed, it was also built to handle - delivering a skidpad performance of 1.05 lateral g's, along with a slalom speed of 73 mph, a zero-to 100 mph-to-zero time of 11.66 seconds and a 60-to-zero stopping distance of 103 feet.
To accomplish these feats, the Ultimate Aero produced a staggering 1,287 horsepower and 1,112 lb-ft of torque from an SSC-designed billet aluminum V8 block coming in at 387 cubic inches. Power was distributed to the ground via rear-wheel drive from a mid-engined setup, with total weight measuring just 2,750 lbs.
After establishing itself as a player in the ultra-performance market, SSC then used its new-found fame and fortune to set out and design what became known as the Tuatara.
The Tuatara's design is a massive departure from the arguably dated and Lamborghini-like look of the Ultimate Aero, arriving with a look that is very much its own. with its bubble-like, nearly alien design, the Tuatara and its funky name drew much fanfare - sparking interest and intrigue surrounding the then future release of the car.
Compared to the Ultimate Aero, the Tuatara upped the ante in more than a few ways, starting off by swapping the 387 cubic incher for a 423 cubic inch V8, boasting 1,350 hp and 1,042 lb-ft of torque. The added power helps the Tuatara accelerate from a dead stop to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, and on to 144 mph and finishing a quarter-mile in just 9.75 seconds. Top speed is bumped slightly to 276 mph.