Looking back at the past decade in motoring: Part 1

Bugatti Veyron

So then, it’s a new year, but it’s also the dawn of a new decade (Admittedly, it has been for almost two months now, but a series of articles like this takes some time). So we decided to look back into the last decade and talk about some of the big events which happened. It was undoubtedly a great decade for cars, so there’s plenty of stuff to get through. There were also some bad moments though, and we’ll be discussing those as well over the next week or so with a series of articles.

Speed Record Showdown

Shelby Supercars Ultimate Aero TT

One of the biggest things to happen was all the cars reaching for the production speed record. It started in 2005 with the Bugatti Veyron. It has been praised as one of the greatest cars of all time, even winning Top Gear‘s Car of the Decade award. Using a quad-turbocharged, 8.0L W16 engine, the car will get from 0 – 100 kph in just 2.5 seconds, but most importantly, it’ll keep on charging to 408 kph (About 253  mph). This was record-breaking. The Veyron was the first production car to ever cross 400 kph.

Others wanted a go at the record too though. So soon enough, more cars began to join the fight. The Shelby Supercars Ultimate Aero Twin Turbo came along in 2007, and it beat the Veyron’s speed with average top speed of about 412kph (Roughly 256mph) after 2 runs, although 414 kph (About 257 mph) was hit in one of the runs. The driver claimed that there was still more to go, but the straight wasn’t long enough. During the time of the record run, the Ultimate Aero TT was powered by a 6.35L supercharged V8, sourced from Chevrolet and putting out 1,183 hp and 1,094 lb-ft of torque. SSC updates the car every year though, and it now has a new, twin-turbo V8 engine, churning out 1,287 hp and 1,112 lb-ft of torque. They’ve also adjusted the aerodynamics and gear ratios and cut down on weight. According to Shelby Supercars, the theoretical top speed, if you find a long enough straight, is 462kph (About 287mph). This isn’t an official figure though. In 2008, 9ff came up with the GT9. It’s loosely based on the Porsche 911 Turbo. Powered by a twin-turbo, 4.2L flat-six generating 987 hp and 711 lb-ft of torque, it reached 254 mph (About 408kph). That’s 1 mph more than the Veyron, but 2 mph shy of SSC’s record. 9ff’s attempts didn’t end there though. Near the end of the decade, they came up with the GT9-R. This is an evolution of the GT9. Details are sparse, but we know that it uses a 4.0-litre flat-six which makes 1120 hp, and 9ff claims a top speed of 414 kph (About 257 mph), enough to break the Ultimate Aero’s official record.

While 9ff worked on the GT9-R, another company stepped into the ring, and surprisingly, they’re a small-time British company, Keating.With their TKR, they are aiming to outclass everyone, even SSC’s claimed top speeds, by hitting 300 mph. During practice runs, they “only” managed 260 mph, but even that would be enough to claim the official record. Official runs will take place sometime during this year, and presumably the GT9-R will make an official run too. The Zenvo ST1 could have participated in this battle with its 1104 hp V8 engine, hooked up to a body weighing just around 1350 kilos, but Zenvo decided to electronically limit the top speed to 375 kph (Around 233 mph). Another notable car to mention is Underground Racing’s twin-turbo Gallardo. This Gallardo has been tuned to put out 1500 hp, but not at the crank, at the wheels, making it even more impressive. Admittedly, this is when it uses VP C16 racing fuel, but it is still quite a feat. It is a one-off though, although it’s hard to understand whether or not Underground Racing will offer the package to other customers, and top speed runs haven’t been done. It has cleared the quarter mile in under 10 seconds though with its owner behind the wheel, and he isn’t a racing driver, hasn’t been to the drag strip for 10 years, and never drove the car until that moment. That is a figure rivaling the Ultimate Aero. The fight will most likely continue, with an even more powerful car promised by Zenvo, Bugatti soon to need a new car, and Arash promising a 1000 hp version of their AF-10. SSC might be updating their Ultimate Aero again this year, and 9ff is likely to come up with a GT9-R replacement in a year or two, especially since its 20 unit production will probably end very quickly.

That’s it for our first part, stay tuned for more in this series.

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