When will we see the first production car capable of 400mph?

We just did the math
by TopGear.com | Sep 12, 2018
PHOTO: TopGear.com

So SSC reckons its upcoming 1,750hp Tuatara could be the world’s first 300mph (483kph) production car. Engineering a car to do that sort of speed is such a leap into the (very expensive) unknown that you might not bet your pension pot on SSC hitting 300mph, at least not imminently.

But it’s seeming increasingly inevitable that, at some point in the foreseeable, we’ll witness a production car crack the triple-ton. If not SSC, then maybe Koenigsegg. Or Bugatti. Or Hennessey. 

Point is, assuming you’re not, say, a dentist to great white sharks, if you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you’ll live to see a world containing a bona fide 300mph road car.

All of which got Top Gear—never a publication to turn down the chance for a bit of idle speculation – thinking. Forget 300, when might we see the first 400mph (644kph) car? So we did some calculations, and it turns out the answer is…

April 11, 2079.

Yes, according to science, that’s the date upon which a production car will break the 400mph barrier. You’re welcome, world.

There’s some irrefutable maths at work here. Admittedly maths performed by an editorial team with an average D-minus math grades, but hey, at least that was achieved back in the days when a D-minus really meant something.

Take a look at the graph above and you’ll see we’ve plotted the history of production car speed records over the last century-and-a-bit, from the Benz Velo’s 12mph (19kph) in 1894, to the 278mph (447kph) hit by the Koenigsegg Agera RS last year.

Continue reading below ↓

True, production car speed records are notoriously disputable (just ask Mr. Hennessey), and true, our source data came from Wikipedia. But even if you want to quibble the veracity of a few of the records, the general trend is pretty clear. And surprisingly linear.

We’d rather thought that the trend line might show some flattening off in the last couple of decades, the rate of progress slowing as cars pushed further at the outer reaches of physics. Not so, it would seem. In fact, the Koenigsegg Agera RS’s 278mph run last year was actually slightly ahead of the curve. Or, rather, ahead the straight line.

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