Remembering the Time When the Hennessey Venom GT Was the Fastest Car You Could Drive

Hennessey Venom GT 8 photos
Photo: Hennessey
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We are all excited about the 1,800 hp Hennessey F5, the Texas tuner's latest supercar project. It is a stunning machine that promises huge performance figures. But what about the car that started it all? The vehicle that once held the record of the world's fastest. Yes, we are talking about the Venom GT here.
It was 14 February 2014. The Performance Power LLC Space Act Agreement allowed the Hennessey team to meticulously test the vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Using their 3.2-mile (5.2 km) runway located at the Shuttle Landing Facility, the vehicle attained on that day a recorded top speed of 270.49 mph (435.31 km/h) in a limited distance of only 2.3 miles (3.7 km), topping the Bugatti Veyron Supersport. Just one year earlier, on 21 January 2013, the almighty Venom GT set a Guinness World Record for the fastest road-legal car from 0 to 186 mph (0-300 kph) with an acceleration time of just 13.63 seconds.

A 2.7-second acceleration time from zero to 62 mph (100 kph) was simply a mind-boggling number at the time and is still impressive today. In the era of extreme digitalization and vehicle electrification, it is nice to look back at the times when large displacement and forced induction ruled the supercar world. Well, how did they do it?

Hennessey Venom GT
Photo: Hennessey
The powerplant of the Hennessey Venom GT consisted of a massively uprated version of the 7-liter V8 taken straight from the Corvette ZR1, namely the 427 cu in GM LS7 unit. The engineering team applied their magic and reinforced internal components, added additional head bolts and aluminum heads and, installed a magnificent forced induction system using twin precision ball bearing turbochargers.

This impressive engineering architecture enabled the vehicle to have three cockpit-adjustable states of power. For instance, a docile state would give you just 800 hp to play with. If you dialed up the buttons and spooled the turbos, depending on your mood, the vehicle could produce either 1000 hp or 1244 hp. The engine was mated to a Ricardo six-speed manual transmission which, at the time, also equipped the Ford GT.

Maybe even more exciting was the fact that surrounding all this horsepower was a shell based on the lightweight Lotus Exige body. The team learned their lessons from their Venom 1000 Twin Turbo Viper project and applied them to the GT, transforming it into a feared mid-engine supercar.

Hennessey Venom GT
Photo: Hennessey

"One day, I joked about putting the Venom 1000 Twin Turbo engine in the back of a Lotus Exige. Then I thought, let’s do a sketch and see what that might look like. When I saw the sketch, I stopped laughing and really started to seriously think about this idea,"
 said the company founder, John Hennessey, when asked to talk about the drivetrain inspiration for the Venom GT.

The roof, doors, side glass, windscreen, cockpit, floorpan, HVAC system, wiper, and headlamps were transplanted directly from the Exige donor vehicle. Additionally, Hennessey got help from the UK-based firm Delta Motorsport in refining the exterior design and aerodynamics of the GT resulting in a bespoke front and rear carbon-fiber structure, suspension setup, and braking system. The finished vehicle ended up being extremely lightweight, tipping the scale at only 2743 lbs (1244 kg), with a weight distribution ratio of 44% front and 56% back.

Later on, in 2016, the Venom GT even adopted a Spyder form and received a performance boost, and ended up producing 1,451 hp.

Hennessey limited the production of the Venom GT to only 29 examples. The GT Spyder was limited to only five units, with a "Final Edition" one, bringing the grand total to just six. Pricing for this record-breaking supercar was undoubtedly high, well into six-figure territory. The "Final Edition" went on sale with a $1.2 million price tag.

A supercar that put Hennessey in prime-time attention and fueled every enthusiast's imagination, the Venom GT is a vehicle that deserves its place in the automotive history books. A master build that pushed the envelope way higher, it goes to show that where there is avid passion and strong will, anything is possible.

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About the author: Dan Marinescu
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Since his early childhood, Dan developed an avid passion for cars and, now he sees himself as a genuine petrolhead. His enthusiasm comes from his father, an automotive engineer. They love to reminisce about the days when his dad showed him the inner workings of an engine and why everything does what it does.
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