Earlier this year, the ultra-powerful, Lotus-based Hennessey Venom GT made good on the world record-level speeds Hennessey had been promising since before the car's 2010 introduction. The car set an unofficial world speed record of 270.49 mph (435.31 km/h). Lesser men might be content to take a long summer vacation after such a feat, but John Hennessey is busy preparing an even more powerful Venom to set a new record … and fend off any competition from the likes of Bugatti or Koenigsegg.
The Venom F5 is billed as the official successor to the GT. The "F5" seems like simple alphanumeric nomenclature at first, but it has a deeper meaning to the boys in Texas – it's the strongest tornado rating in the Fujita scale, signifying a twister with winds between 261 to 318 mph (420 to 512 km/h). Sounds like a fitting designation for a car built to land square in the middle of that speed range.
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Koenigsigg's new One:1 may have the marketing, but the 1,200-bhp Lotus Elise/Exige-based Venom GT beat it to the punch of a 1 hp/1 kilo weight ratio when it arrived on the scene at a 1,200-kg (2,685 lb) fighting weight. The Venom F5 is positioned to improve upon that ratio slightly, potentially packing more than 1,400 bhp in a package weighing less than 1,300 kg (2,866 lb). "F5" definitely sounds better than 1.0769: One, so we're glad Hennessey avoided that particular opportunity for oneupmanship over its Swedish competitor.
Hennessey is still hard at work on the F5's powertrain, so those numbers are only soft estimates for now. The driveline will use beefed-up twin turbochargers, with fuel system and intercooler upgrades built to handle the extra boost. The longitudinally-mounted, rear-drive twin-turbo V8 will be mated to a new single-clutch paddle shift transmission with quickened shift times. Hennessey also plans to offer a standard H-pattern manual. A GPS-based stability/traction control system will help drivers in safely harnessing all the car's magnificent grunt.
"We learned a great deal during the development of the Venom GT in breaking the 270-mph barrier, and we bring that experience to this new design as we look toward raising the performance bar even higher," says company president and founder John Hennessey.
Aerodynamic improvements will help the F5 in reaching its speed and acceleration potential. Hennessey says that the car's drag coefficient will limbo below 0.4 (down from 0.44 on the Venom GT), while a combination of the body shape, underbody venturis, rear diffuser and retractable rear wing will develop plenty of downforce.
The "clean-sheet carbon-fiber body," as Hennessey describes it, has a more angular appearance than its predecessor, most noticeably in the nose and side intakes. The entire front and rear ends have undergone a serious restructuring that includes a brand-new set of lamps.
With development underway, it's hard to get too excited about performance estimates, but we'd be lying if we said that "290 mph (467 km/h) is within reach" didn't look awfully intriguing scratched at the top of a press release. Hennessey also believes that its new car will be able to best the Venom GT's 13.63-second to 186-mph (300 km/h) and 14.51-second 0-200 mph (322 km/h) acceleration records.
Hennessey is thinking relocation for its next speed record attempt, its founder telling Top Gear that he's considering putting the F5 to the test on the hard salt of Bonneville. There, he won't have to deal with NASA staff preventing his team from a return run and keeping the new Venom out of the big Guinness book.
Hennessey will unveil the Venom F5 next year and begin deliveries in late 2016. It plans to build 30+ examples – the minimum needed to be considered a "production car" for the world speed record – at a price exceeding the US$1.2 million sticker of the Venom GT. It will continue to offer the Venom GT, having sold 16 of its planned 29-car production run.
Source: Hennessey PerformanceView gallery - 3 images