February 14, 2014– The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. A small contingency of automobile experts and aficionados gather as automotive history is rewritten. Blazing down the 3.22-mile space shuttle landing strip, a stunning hyper-car, called the Hennessey Venom set a brand new high water mark for street legal automobiles. Despite being certified by Racelogic GPS at 270.49 mph, officially the Guinness Book of World Records does not recognize the Venom as the world’s fastest production car because it is technically a modified Lotus and only 11-units have been manufactured to date. This sparse number falls short of what Guinness defines as a production automobile, and reasonably so. Nonetheless, the small faction of Hennessey engineers, technicians, and executives present were visibly elated. If only for a brief moment, the Venom was the fastest production car in the world. The Venom is a twin-turbocharged, mid-engine powered, rear-wheel drive car that flat out flies — Guinness world record holder or not.
Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) is an American based corporation with facilities in Texas and Europe. Hennessey is certainly no stranger to the world of mind blowing horsepower. In fact, since 1991 they have produced some of the most powerful high-performance machines on the planet by modifying powerful naturally aspirated sports cars, like the Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette, and Cadillac CTS-V, using single and dual turbocharger technology. They specialize in the radical enhancement of American sports cars and super cars, but when the idea of a modified Lotus supercar arose and consumer interest peaked, John Hennessey decided that the risk would be well worth the reward.
For street usage the Venom is registered as a Lotus Exige (modified). The Lotus is a high-end British made sports car that is akin to a Ferrari or a Lamborghini in many ways. Venom production takes place in England, near Silverstone, where the Lotus is completely disassembled. Specially designed front and rear racing modules are integrated upon reassembly, along with a full racing roll cage for increased stability and rigidity. In fact only select Exige body panels are actually reused in the production of the Venom. Only the floor pan, roof, doors, side glasses, windshield, dashboard, cockpit, HVAC system, windshield wiper system, and head lamps are reused from the original Exige. The Venom utilizes carbon-fiber body panels and wheels to achieve massive weight reduction throughout the entire car, which is lengthened and widened. When all of the modifications are completed the Venom, at a gross vehicle weight of only 1244-kilos, is more than capable of providing a power to weight ration of 1-hp to 1-kilogram (2.25-lbs.) of gross body weight. . The Venom is also equipped with an actively adjustable aerodynamic system that adapts to changing speeds, wind, and weather conditions by using computational fluid dynamics to deploy various aerodynamic enhancing components, including a rear wing. The suspension is a fully adjustable racing customization which automatically dictates ride height and spring rate by measuring vehicle speed and driving conditions and activating a suspension system that can demand deviations of up to 2.4-inches. The brakes are Brembo with six-piston calipers in the front and four piston calipers in the rear. The 15-inch brake rotors are of a carbon ceramic composition, all around. Once the Venom is fully assembled, its buyer is treated to a one-day driver orientation seminar with a professional driver. This takes place either in the U.K. or the U.S. on a closed test track. The Venom Spyder, an open topped version, is also available.
Primarily due to HPE’s familiarity with the 8.0-liter V10 Dodge Viper engine, the Venom was originally designed with it in mind. Hennessey has developed the Viper power-plant extensively through the use of twin-turbochargers. Wisely opting to go with an engine that is significantly lighter and more powerful then the Chrysler V10, in the end they chose to use the 7.0-liter LS7 Chevrolet engine. This engine powers such cars as the 2014 Chevrolet Z28, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and the 2014 Equus Bass 770. The already potent LS7 is upgraded by HSE (in Sealy, Texas) to three performance settings; 800-hp, 1000-hp, or the version that propelled the Venom to 270 mph, the 1244-hp and 1155 lb.-ft. of torque version. The transmission is a six-speed Ricardo manual, similar to the gearbox that equips the famed Ford GT40 supercar. A fully programmable electronic stability and traction control system helps the driver to maintain control of this powerful beast that, by all accounts, verges on the brink of uncontrollable.
While the Venom is ultra-powerful and built to break records, it is also street legal. Hennessey has plans to produce only 29 of these cars, with a starting MSRP of $600,000 and a top out price of $1,000,000 (US). They have intentions of opening a network of dealerships and service centers in the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Russia, and Europe.