The production Hennessey Venom F5 is here, and it's all out of bubblegum
The 1,817-horsepower, US$2.1-million-dollar Venom F5 hypercar has been unveiled in production form, along with acceleration figures that would suck the doors off a Koenigsegg Regera and sights firmly set on the recently vacated title of "world's fastest production car."
We could be looking at the world's fastest production car here; that's certainly what Hennessey is going for. With an official dry weight of 1,360 kg (2,998 lb), and a roaring 6.6-liter twin-turbo "Fury" V8 engine crushing out 1,617 Nm (1,193 lb-ft) of torque along with its dizzying horsepower tally, every individual kilogram (2.2 lb) of the Venom F5 will have 1.34 ponies dedicated to the task of hurling it toward the horizon.
That power-to-weight ratio is "well in excess of any road car available today," says the company, although Greece's Spyros Panopoulos Automotive could blow that claim right out of the water if its 3,000-horsepower, generatively-designed Project Chaos "ultracar" lives up to its promises and delivers more than two horses per kilogram. This gives me a wonderful mental image of two muscular stallions rolling their eyes at one another as they're harnessed to an average-sized cantaloupe.
The F5's base-level target is a peppy 500 km/h (311 mph), and after the complete debacle that turned the SSC Tuatara's production car speed record attempt into a PR disaster, Hennessey is making sure it dots every I and crosses every T when it makes its own run at history in the first half of 2021, on the 5.2-km-long (3.2-mile) runway at the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida.
The Tuatara's embarrassment is clearly forefront of Hennessey's mind; check this carefully-worded passage from the press release: "The F5 aims to exceed 500 km/h on a two-way validated speed run using a production specification car. The record attempt will be independently verified by the world-renowned experts from Racelogic using VBOX GPS data acquisition systems. Racelogic / VBOX engineers will be on site to install, test and calibrate the speed testing equipment in the F5 to ensure absolute accuracy and transparency. In addition, VBOX engineers will verify all test data and final speed numbers. The speed test will be attended by independent witnesses, media guests and F5 customers. GPS data and uninterrupted video footage will also be made publicly available following the speed test."
The company has also published its production spec gear ratios so that internet sleuths can follow the F5's tacho and do the math once the video comes out. We get it, Hennessey, this record attempt will be legit. And to be fair, there probably hasn't been enough oversight of these production car speed record runs in the past. There is considerable marketing value in calling your car the fastest in the world, and let's be honest, these cars now reach such hideously dangerous speeds that no customer will ever find out if you've fudged your figures.
Using the specified gearing it's possible for the car to top out at 534 km/h (334 mph) in seventh, but the company considers this unlikely and would be happy with anything over 500. Fair enough, too; whoever's driving this thing will be putting their life on the line for the privilege. Personally, I'd probably chicken out and start backing off at about 480, but that's why I'm sitting here getting a monitor moon-tan instead of being paid to throw champagne around and flaunt gaudy watches at press conferences.
It won't just be a top-speed monster; the The Venom F5's quoted acceleration figures are outrageous, leaps and bounds ahead of anything we've seen thus far. Fast electrics will still beat it to highway speeds, but how's this for quick: from a standing start, the F5 will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.6 seconds, 200 km/h (124 mph) in just 4.7 seconds, 300 km/h (186 mph) in 8.4 seconds, and 400 km/h (249 mph) in a mind-boggling 15.5 seconds.
To put that in context, the Koenigsegg Regera set a new 0-400-0 record late last year, during which its acceleration to 400 km/h was timed at 22.87 seconds. The Venom F5, if these specs are to be believed, will hit that speed more than seven seconds faster than the fastest street car ever tested. Epic stuff.
And lest you worry that this car will be a straight-line hero, ex-racer and former GM Performance Division Director John Heinricy is Chief Engineer on the Venom F5 project. With multiple sub-8-minute Nurburgring laps and some 240 professional races poking out his bulging CV, he knows a little bit about making cars go round corners, and had the supreme luxury of being able to design this car from the ground up, adapting ideas from his all-time favorite supercars in search of "the world's most visceral driving experience."
Citing the McLaren 600LT and Porsche Cayman GT4 as benchmarks of the kind of driver involvement and feel he hopes to create, Heinricy will personally grab the keys when it comes time for "dynamic testing," – auto industry code for flogging the bejesus out of the thing – around Hennessey's own test track and the F1 track at Circuit of the Americas.
There are photos as well of the interior of the car, which can best be described as a bare carbon tub lightly and occasionally draped in a fig leaf of leather. The F5 rivals the Bugatti Bolide in the purity of its interior focus; if you ignore the indulgent frippery of its 9-inch Alpine infotainment screen, this thing is all business. You are not getting a fancy-pants luxury experience for your 2.1-million-dollar base price, you're buying a savage cross-breed between a land speed bullet and a circuit racer that just happens to look like a supermodel and have license plates tacked on.
I'm well aware this car's very existence will rankle and churn the guts of a goodly proportion of New Atlas readers. Dinosaur burners are dinosaurs, after all; what place have they on the pages of a publication that tries to look forward and celebrate what's coming and what's better for the planet? Not to mention the sheer Benjamin-burning wastefulness inherent in throwing that much money at a toy. US$2.1 million could feed 52,500 starving children for a year, according to worldhelp.net, or one starving child for 52,000 years. It could probably almost get your kid right through a college degree in America, or maybe even fully upgrade your MyPlayer in NBA 2K21.
What's more, it's the product of thousands of hours of work by incredibly clever and talented people, focused on a largely pointless goal that will probably only ever even be attempted once or twice. The Venom F5 will be such a case of megalomaniacal overkill on the street that we wouldn't blame the 24 lunatics that buy one for leaving it in the garage and taking the Kia out instead.
But there's got to be some hidden pocket of your sensible, environmentally friendly, socially responsible soul that gasps at the mere idea of going five times the speed of highway traffic. That sees the lengths these maligned geniuses go to in order to squeeze yet more roaring power out of pistons, cranks and spark plugs. That wonders what it feels like to get slammed back in those spartan seats and pray loudly for those four poor Michelins to hold it together for the frenzied 15 seconds between peaceful standstill and four hundred godforsaken kilometers per hour. That hears the sound this beast makes and thinks "fair go, that hits me on a cellular level."
You should definitely not buy a Hennessey Venom F5. Nobody should. But we can all enjoy them, guiltily and vicariously, in our extensive photo gallery and in videos like the one below, the ending of which inspired goosebumps down both my arms and a range of other involuntary physiological responses best left undescribed.
Source: Hennessey Special Vehicles