A new “fastest car in the world” has emerged, in the form of the Hennessey Venom GT. But does it really deserve that title?
A commendable milestone has been achieved today in the automotive world. The milestone is considerably big enough that it is circulating around the web on mainstream sites, supposedly important enough for the general population to know. After all, most people couldn’t give a crap about anything (except Miley Cyrus and other stupid shit), automotive news included, so why is this such a big deal? It’s because people care about records. For example, people don’t really give a shit about giraffes, do they? I mean, when was the last time you thought about a giraffe before reading this post? But if you mentioned the “longest giraffe neck in the world”, many people would be curious about it. Now go google that.
Before we break out in celebration, let’s take examine some technicalities. First of all, who built this car? Was it a mainstream manufacturer? No, it wasn’t. Then again, the previous record holders, such as McLaren, Koenigsegg, and Bugatti are not household names either. Who are these Hennessey people anyway? Hennessey is one of the world’s largest tuning operations located in the heart of Texas. Notice I said “tuning operations” and not “car manufacturer”. Hennessey is known for taking cars that have been built by a manufacturer and modifying them, often to insane levels of performance. Car owners from all over the world who are yearning for a bit more performance from their vehicles will ship them to Hennessey’s place. However, Hennessey does not build cars from scratch. The Venom GT is no different.
The Venom GT starts out its life as Lotus Elise or Exige (I’m not sure which one). Hennessey does a ridiculous number of modifications before reaching the end result of the Venom GT. They even cut the frame of the car cleanly in half to extend it and make room for the giant engine! But it doesn’t really matter how much stuff they bolt on, or cut off from the car. It doesn’t change the fact that the car started out as something that you can walk into a Lotus dealer and buy off the floor. At its core, the Hennessey Venom GT is a highly tuned Lotus, and no amount of insane modifications will change that.
Oh, and the engine is a blown LS V8. To say that a blown LS V8 of some sort is found in a lot of modified performance cars would be quite a big understatement.
Now, let’s talk about the run. The Guinness Book of World Records was not there to observe the run. Hennessey would not eligible for a record in the Book anyway. For a car to be eligible for the Guinness Record, they would need to do the run in both directions on the same patch of asphalt. This is to account for differences in wind speeds and other factors. Hennessey did not do this. They only ran in one direction. For those of who you don’t think that this matters, it does. When the Bugatti Veyron Super-Sport did the run for Guinness, they recorded a several mile-per-hour difference in their speed (I don’t remember the exact number). It is possible that Hennessey got really lucky and did the run with a 20 mile an hour tailwind.
I don’t hate the Venom GT at all. I think that it’s a pretty badass looking car. The car is properly insane with a claimed 1,244 horsepower (knowing Hennessey and their experience with high horsepower American engines, I think that this number is totally achievable since they went all out with this thing) going to just the rear wheels through a manual transmission! How cool is that? The car weights less than a Honda Civic too. I’d like to give Hennessey credit for building such an amazing machine through sheer brute force instead of taking the over-engineer-everything approach that Bugatti did.
These are things that I want people to consider before blindly parroting about the Venom GT being the undisputed fastest car in the world. The criteria for defining the “fastest production car” has become extremely vague. It’s only a matter of time before somebody sticks a bigger blower on a Corvette, changes the body panels, builds three street legal examples and claims the title. How far into ambiguity are we going to go?