If you want to drive fast, and I mean really seriously fast, you’re spoilt for choice at present – at least in terms of the machinery available, if not the roads to do it on... There’s the 253mph Bugatti Veyron, the 250+mph Koenigsegg CCXR and the Bristol Fighter T with a claimed top speed potential of 270mph, but which will be restricted to 225mph. There’s also the Hennessey Venom Viper with a claimed top speed of 255mph.
You’ll not be surprised to learn that for my first drive in an Ultimate Aero TT, on UK roads, I had no intention of breaking records, or anything else. But thankfully you don’t have to drive at a third of the speed of sound to get a reasonable idea of what a car’s all about.
There’s little that’s impressive inside as fit, finish and detailing falls far short of the current supercar norm. On the plus side the Aero TT is easy enough to climb in and out of, the leather seats are supportive, it’s reasonably spacious with ample headroom and the driving position is fine apart from the front wheel arch intruding into the footwell,
By now you might be wondering just how the TT’s not insignificant price of $550,000 (ex factory) can be justified, but in the small overhead roof console there’s a large red button, and when you press that this car’s raison d’etre becomes immediately apparent. There’s something akin to a controlled nuclear explosion as the modified, twin-turbo 6,348cc Corvette pushrod V8 bursts into life. This start-up extravaganza only lasts a second or three before the engine settles into a loud offbeat V8 burble, but this is pure, undiluted Yankee muscle.
On the road the SSC grips tenaciously. Its nose goes precisely where you point it, when you point it, and the steel tube chassis feels suitably rigid and well-balanced. I can only guess how the car might behave when pushed hard on a track, but with so much power, rear wheel drive and no electronic traction aides, considerable expertise, and prudence, would obviously be required.
Straight-ahead visibility is okay, but the massive A-pillars can be a hindrance. Rear vision is effectively zero, save for the door mirrors and rear-facing camera with pop-out screen in the radio/stereo/satnav unit. The adjustable suspension was set somewhere between firm and rock hard and so the ride was correspondingly unforgiving. Driving one or more of those super-wide Michelins over cats-eyes sent loud staccato bangs and solid thumps directly into the cabin. At legal speeds the exhaust is quiet enough to allow conversation, but lifting off the throttle causes an almighty cacophony from the twin-turbo wastegates.
Although the TT can deliver salt flat-shrinking speed, the brakes on this particular car are something of a mystery. The brochure states that eight-piston calipers should be fitted at the front, but this one had four-piston units. Pedal pressure required even from moderate speeds was inordinately high, with almost no feel or power. (I still await an explanatory response.)
Conversely, it’s more powerful, more exclusive, and potentially faster than a Veyron, while costing less than half as much. And since when did all-American muscle have to dress up like posh European aristocracy? Some loud paint, serious wheels and an even louder V8 is all it really needs, and that’s what it’s got, in unprecedented abundance. Neither argument is wrong, so I guess owners will be few, and just a little keener on driving at almost four times the national speed limit than most of us.
- Engine - mid-mounted, all-alloy 16-valve V8 twin turbo
- Displacement - 6,348 cc (387.2 cu in)
- Power - 1,183 bhp (1,199 PS) @ 6,950 rpm (7,200 rpm redline)
- Torque - 1,094 lb/ft (1,484 Nm) @ 6,150 rpm
- Transmission - 6-speed manual, rear wheel drive
- 0-60 mph - 2.78 secs
- Standing 1/4 mile - 9.9 secs @ 144mph
- 60-0mph - 31.4 metres (103 ft)
- Top speed - 273 mph (claimed, see text)
- Chassis - steel tube space frame
- Body - carbon fibre composite, flat undertray with venturi tunnels
- Cd - 0.357
- Brakes - 14 inch vented, cross-drilled discs, 8-piston* calipers (front), 6-piston* (rear), (*see text)
- Suspension - double wishbone (front); upper rocker arm, lower wishbone (rear), remote reservoir, adjustable Penske dampers, coil-over springs, anti-roll bar
- Wheels - forged, 3-piece alloy, 19 x 9.5” (front), 20 x 13” (rear)
- Tyres - Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, 235/35 19 (front), 335/30 20 (rear)
- Price - $550,000 ex factory, approx £335,000 on the road in UK
Pictures: Jim Forrest