After the pomp and civility of the New York Auto Show, it’s nice for automotive manufacturers to take a break, get some air, visit the family, break 265 mph, hit the spa, etc. And so it would be that thousands of miles away on a bleak Californian airstrip, that some brave individual in a very much modified piece of machinery would hurtle himself down an airforce grade runway to a speed of 265.7 mph (426.7 km/h). This non-stock, please don’t-try-this-at-home event has now put the Hennessey Venom GT in the books as the fastest production car on the planet.
Even though there is some debate as to whether the Hennessey Venom GT is in fact a true production car, anything with wheels and a human onboard that exceeds 400 km/h gets our official nod of approval. Officially tagged as the “Venom GT” this car that you can buy is in essence a very much modified Lotus – like seriously, a lot modified. Yes that is in fact a Lotus chassis holding all the power; which begs the argument: “Is this then nothing more than a highly modified Lotus Exige stuffed full of big American V8 power and twin-turbochargers?”
According to Hennessey “The Venom GT is created from a base Lotus Elise /Exige, utilizing components including but not limited to the roof, doors, side glass, windscreen, dash, cockpit, floorpan, HVAC system, wiper and head lamps.” So there's no pretending by Hennessey that this is anything but a Lotus in highly modified form
Run out over a 2 mile (3.2 km) course at the United States Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore in Central California, the speed was validated by two VBOX 3i GPS tracking systems, and assured as true and honest by official VBOX personnel. According to John Hennessey, president and founder, “Even though a Bugatti Veyron has run 267.8 mph (430.9 km/h) the company limits the top speed to 258 mph (415 km/h),” thus leaving the ambiguous award of fastest production car to Hennessey. NAS Lemoore was chosen as the testing grounds as it’s one of the longest paved runways in North America.
To ensure the Venom GT met production requirements, this seventh-generation Hennessey is in fact street-legal that rolls on Michelin Pilot Super Sport DOT-approved tires, and uses Brembo 6-piston carbon ceramic disc brakes to stop when it has to. Inside the former Exige interior is still a cramped Exige interior, but now complete with hi-fi stereo, air conditioning, and leather seats. Mind you, at 265 mph you need neither A/C, nor the hi-fi for your Justin Bieber or leather seats.
But more importantly, what have they done beneath the exterior to make this wee beasty of a thing so all hot and bothered? Well for one thing, it weighs near nothing thanks to a carbon fiber composite workup that covers pretty much everything except the doors and the roof. Combine an athletic curb weight of only 2,743 lbs (1,244 kg) with twin Precision turbochargers that develop 19 psi (1.3 bar) of boost, and a 7.0 liter (427 CID) generating station developing an earth gobbling 1,155 lb.ft. of torque and 1,244 horsepower to the rear wheels, and you get a Venom GT with a power-to-weight ratio of 1 horsepower per 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of weight. For those of you keeping track, a ratio of one-to-one is indeed a most glorious performance specification.
In other news, 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) is done in 2.7 seconds, while to 0-180 mph (300 km/h) in 13.63 seconds helps Hennessey secure a Guinness World Record. Hennessey also reports a top speed of 278 mph (447.5 km/h) for the Venom GT. The manufacturer blames the lack of runway/stopping distance, for being unable to reach the vehicle’s true top speed on the day. So what we really need to see to stop this “he had a longer track!” trash talking is put both the Venom GT and the Bugatti on a stretch of blacktop, at the same time, with enough room to run to settle the million dollar squabbling once and for all. Hennessey plans to build only 29 of the Venom GTs, and claims one-third of the production run is already sold. Despite its claims to being a home-grown USA Veyron alternative, the Bugatti-esque price tag of US$1.2 million not including shipping or options, makes the Hennessey a less than realistic acquisition for the masses. The manufacturer says each carbon-fibered vehicle is made to order, requiring six months to complete.
Words and performance statistics are nice but the YouTube video below helps put the world in proper perspective.