The Ultimate Aero TT from Shelby SuperCars is currently the fastest car in the world.

Courtesy of Shelby SuperCars

The SSC UItimate Aero TT

The current record for fastest car in the world is held by the Ultimate Aero TT from Shelby SuperCars. The record was set on Oct. 9, 2007, not on a testing track, which is where most high-speed records are established, but on a closed-off section of Highway 221 in Washington state. The speed was monitored using the DEWE-VGPS-200C speed sensor from Dewetron, a company that specializes in, among other things, data acquisition systems for spacecraft, which should give you an idea of how fast the Ultimate Aero TT was traveling.

So, how fast is it? In accordance with Guinness rules for automotive speed records, the Ultimate Aero TT was driven down the track twice -- in opposite directions -- with the top speed on each run being averaged to produce the record speed. (This helps minimize the effect of fluke road and weather conditions.) On the first pass it was clocked at 257.44 miles per hour (414.3 kilometers per hour), on the second at 254.91 miles per hour (410.2 kilometers per hour), for an average speed of 256.18 miles per hour (412.3 kilometers per hour). This beat the previous record of 250.7 miles per hour (403.5 kilometers per hour), set in February 2005 by the Koenigsegg CCR, as well as the unofficial record of 253.81 miles per hour (408.5 kilometers per hour), set in April 2005 by the Bugatti Veyron.

This is the first time since the Ford GT40 set the record in 1967 that the title of fastest car in the world has been held by an American-made car. And it wasn't set on the perfect road surface of a testing track the way that most European speed records have been set. Jerod Shelby, the owner of Shelby SuperCars, believes that the Ultimate Aero TT can beat its own record when and if it gets tested on a closed European track. NASA wind tunnel tests have shown that the Ultimate Aero can remain aerodynamically stable up to 273 miles per hour (439.4 kilometers per hour), though its redline speed -- the velocity at which the engine starts to self destruct -- is around 260 miles per hour (418.4 kilometers per hour). So clearly there's room for this vehicle to improve on its own record.

Now you know. The SSC Ultimate Aero TT is the fastest car in the world. Or is it? Some people believe that this record is a bit of a cheat. We'll see what they have to say on the next page.