Shelby SuperCars boss Jerod Shelby reckons one of the key design parameters for a world record-breaking supercar is… its name.
No, Cyril, I'm not kidding; in Shelby's own words: “The design specifications for the next-generation SSC were so extreme, we knew early on that a proper name would be a key piece of the puzzle for this project.”
So he named it after a lizard with a genetic abnormality.
The Shelby Tuatara (say Twoo-TAH-rah) is named after a New Zealand reptile that's directly descended from the dinosaurs - it's a Maori word meaning “peaks on the back”. But what makes this particular gecko special is that it has the fastest-evolving DNA in the world.
Shelby explained: “Most manufacturers use the same basic model and body shape for up to 10 years, making only small refinements to it each year. But after only three years in production the Ultimate Aero has evolved into a completely new car in terms of sophistication, design, aerodynamics and sheer all-round performance.
“We felt that the fastest-evolving DNA was the perfect definition of this project.”
OK, then - performance: the Tuatara has a seven-litre V8 engine with dual turbochargers that pushes about 995kW to the rear wheels through either a seven-speed manual box or a seven-speed, paddle-shift sequential auto transmission.
Without giving any performance figures, the company says the carbon fibre-bodied lizard-on-wheels will be the fastest production car in the world.
Of course, that used to be the claim to fame of the Bugatti Veyron (407km/h), until the Shelby Ultimate Aero TT was timed at 413. VW then hit back with the 885kW Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which hit 415km/h so, to reclaim the crown, the Tuatara will have to reach at least 417km/h (a single-digit increase, apparently, doesn't count).
We'll keep you in the (double helix) loop.