Everyone loves a good superlative. Whether something’s the biggest, tallest, longest or strongest, words ending in “-est” connote superiority and inspire awe. Of course in the world of automobiles it seems like everyone wants to be the “fastest.”
Whether it was the first drag race with horseless carriages, a classic rivalry between models like the Camaro and Mustang or even a modern-day battle at Le Mans, vehicle manufacturers and drivers always want to be first. This is especially true in the world of ultra-high-end supercars, street machines that can top 200 miles an hour before the average driver hits 60.
Legends like the McLaren F1 continue to inspire new generations of automobile enthusiasts. Despite being two-and-a-half-decades old this car is still certifiably insane with a terminal velocity in excess of 240 miles an hour. It was also the first production car to use a full carbon-fiber monocoque.
Today, vehicles from boutique brands like Koenigsegg, SSC or Noble push the technological envelope to deliver even crazier top speeds. Texas-based Hennessey Performance is one such firm.
This cadre of automotive sorcerers can conjure up enormous horsepower from everyday automobiles. Their engineering handicraft can be applied to a wide array of vehicles ranging from Bentleys and Benzes to more workaday products like the Ford F-150 and GMC Yukon. If you want speed, Hennessey can probably provide it in abundance.
But this company also builds some of its own vehicles. Their fearsome sounding Venom GT is a boutique speed machine with almost-unbelievable performance. And according to their calculations it’s the fastest production car in the world.
The Venom GT, which packs a 1,244-hp punch and wears a $1.2 million price tag, has a verified top speed of 270.49 miles an hour. Its estimated terminal velocity is 278. John Hennessey, president and founder of Hennessey Performance said, “I think if we had more room to run we’d certainly go five to eight miles an hour faster.”
Hennessey said they evaluated the car on the “longest runway that [they] could find in the U.S.,” a 3.2-mile stretch of tarmac owned by NASA. During the top-speed blitz he said they allocated 2.4 miles for acceleration with the remaining .8 for slowing down.
To confirm the Venom GT’s speed, Hennessey said they hired an independent company called Racelogic. “They’re the ones that came out and certified our 270.49,” he noted. They manufacture a data recorder called the VBox, which Hennessey said is used throughout the automotive industry.
For extra piece of mind they ran THREE VBoxes in the car during their top-speed run. “[That way] we had redundancy in case one lost satellite connectivity or power,” said Hennessey.
But there’s more than one way to confirm a number. “Some people have Guinness come out,” he said, while others have used TÜV to certify figures; they’re sort of Germany’s equivalent to our DOT.
It Goes Both Ways
Additional redundancy is always a good thing when making claims like these. Hennessey said, “Ideally it’d be nice to run a few directions,” a move that would compensate for any sort of tail wind that may or may not be present. During the Venom GT’s top-speed test they had planned on going both ways but could not because NASA was testing a space craft on one end of the runway.
Still Hennessey stands behind the 270.49-MPH figure his supercar delivered. “The way we view it is the number is the number,” he said.
To further satiate his speed ambitions they’re working on an even more capable successor to the Venom GT, called the Venom F5. Hennessey said it should have an even higher top speed thanks to a lower coefficient of drag and more power.
The current fastest car in the world will only be the fastest for a short while before someone else comes out with some new technology that will smash the record by leaps and bounds. We move fast these days when it comes to wanting to be the one who holds the record for the best this or that in the world...