Who Really Builds The Fastest Street-Legal Production Car?

Supercars / 10 Comments

Everyone makes their own claims, and no one seems to agree. Is it Bugatti? Hennessey? Koenigsegg?

Many have claimed to build the fastest street-legal car right from the factory, and we've even had manufacturers email us to tell us when those self-proclamations are wrong. So what is the fastest street-legal car you can buy from a manufacturer?

To get to the bottom of this, we need to set a few ground rules first, as some cars are eligible, while others may not be. We're fully anticipating a barrage of comments saying, "What about this?" and, "You forgot about that," so to make sure we leave nothing to chance, we're going to list them all and tell you whether they're eligible, and where they stack up in the grand scheme of things.

But in order to do that, we need to first establish the rules by which to judge this.


What Defines The Fastest Road-Legal Car?

For a car to be eligible, it must be a street-legal vehicle. What does this mean? Well, it needs to be legal to drive on the road, usually meaning it can be registered and plated with no issue. Simple enough. But the next caveat is an important one, as it must be a production vehicle to qualify for this list.

What defines a production vehicle? Well, the Guinness Book of World Records stipulated that more than 20 cars must be produced for eligibility for this particular record. However, we're willing to accept any car produced in double digits, so long as it is a genuine product of an automaker with its own VIN and not a highly tuned chassis and engine from another automaker.

The car you can buy must also be the same specification as the record-setting unit. If engineers had to make significant tweaks to justify hitting a speed and you can't buy that same configuration, then it doesn't qualify. Any tuner can build a crazy land-speed record-setting car, and that's what separates this list from that one.

Next, we believe a two-way speed run is needed to verify the record. After all, if you run downhill or catch a big tailwind, it's easy to pick up an extra few mph, so a two-way average is a must.

Lastly, only cars that have actually been delivered and are officially in production can officially be eligible.

Bloodhound LSR

Shelby SuperCars Tuatara - 295 MPH

Shelby SuperCars North America's Tuatara hypercar became the biggest joke in the car world after the company allegedly hit 331.15 mph, only to be called out and disproven for it mere days later. The company released a statement on the matter a month later, admitting that there had somehow been a miscalculation and the car had not even broken 300 mph, let alone hit 331 mph as originally claimed. CEO Jarrod Shelby vowed to reattempt the run in a bid to find the Tuatara's true top speed and has subsequently completed two further runs. The best of those happened at the Kennedy Space Center on May 14th, 2022, when SSC customer Larry Caplin drove his own Tuatara to a top speed of 295 mph in a single run, verified by Racelogic. But the single-direction run rules the 1,750-horsepower, twin-turbo V8-powered Tuatara out of eligibility here. Previously, however, it managed a two-way average of 282.9 mph in 2021, giving it real claim to the top speed record.

Status: 295-mph speed set in a single direction - NOT ELIGIBLE, 282.9 mph two-way run - ELIGIBLE


Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ - 304.73 MPH

Bugatti loves to discredit records set by niche manufacturers as not being genuine records because the cars are produced in low volumes. Representatives have even gone so far as to confirm in writing that they believe Hennessey's records were invalid because the cars Hennessey used weren't production vehicles. So one might think that Bugatti was doing right by these bold standards when it announced a production run of 30 Chiron Super Sport 300+ hypercars. But here's the kicker: the car with which Bugatti set a top speed of 304.773 mph - in one direction only - as described by Bugatti was "a near-production Bugatti Chiron prototype" in the official press materials, and the Chiron Super Sport 300+ was described as a special edition "visually based on the record-breaking car." The reality is the Chiron Super Sport 300+ only has a top speed of 273 mph, which is barely faster than the Veyron Super Sport. Sorry folks, but Bugatti lied to you.

Status: Not a production-spec car, and only set in one direction - NOT ELIGIBLE

2021-2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Front View Driving Bugatti
2021-2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Rear Angle View Bugatti
2021-2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Rear View Bugatti

Koenigsegg Agera RS - 277.87 MPH

In 2017, Koenigsegg went to a closed-off, 11-mile stretch of highway outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, with an Agera RS and shattered five world records, among which was the one for the highest two-way top speed set by a production car: 277.87 mph. In a single direction, it hit 284.55 mph, and to make it even better, it was a real customer car and not a development prototype. Equipped with the one-megawatt package, it generated 1,341 hp and 1,011 lb-ft of torque, which also enabled it to nail the 0-249-0 mph acceleration-and-braking run in 33.29 seconds.

Koenigsegg went above and beyond for this record by doing a two-way run with a customer's car. The only thing it didn't do was use Guinness to verify the record, which is why it won't appear in that good book. Still, this is about as official as it gets for us.

Status: 100% ELIGIBLE

2015 Koenigsegg Agera RS Side View Koenigsegg
2015-2018 Koenigsegg Agera RS Rear Angle View Koenigsegg
2015-2018 Koenigsegg Agera RS Side View Koenigsegg

Hennessey Venom GT - 270.49 MPH

Hennessey Performance Engineering doesn't have the cleanest record in the fast-car game, but it proved that a small American upstart can bloody the noses of the wealthy elite. That was the case when the Texas-based outfit took a creation called the Venom GT to the Kennedy Space Center in 2014 and set a two-way average top speed of 270.49 mph, beating the Bugatti Veyron SS in the process. One thing stood in its way of getting certification from the Guinness Book of Records, though: it wasn't deemed to be a production car because only seven coupes and six convertibles were ever made.

The Venom GT Spyder set a roofless record, too, hitting 265.6 mph one way to beat the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse by 11 mph - something Bugatti refuses to acknowledge on account of the Venom GT 'not being a production vehicle.'

On this, we have to agree with Bugatti. Not only are there too few Venom GTs produced in either configuration, but when you license a Venom GT, it isn't registered as a Hennessey... Instead, it's registered as a Lotus, as Hennessey butchered and upgraded a Lotus Elise/Exige chassis. If it doesn't have a Hennessey VIN, then in our eyes, and those of the law, it's just a modified Lotus, not a production car.

Status: Not a Hennessey chassis - NOT ELIGIBLE

2011 Hennessey Venom GT Front Angle View Hennessey
2011 Hennessey Venom GT Rear Angle View Hennessey
2011 Hennessey Venom GT Engine Bay Hennessey
2011 Hennessey Venom GT Side View Hennessey

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport - 267.86 MPH

When we set out to compile this list, we were certain of one thing - when we reached out to Guinness World Records, we expected the Veyron SS to still be listed as a record holder. For those who remember, it was initially considered the record holder before claims arose as to its status as production specification, with some saying that customer cars had a limited top speed while the record-setting vehicle was delimited.

To our knowledge, Bugatti had been cleared of these allegations, but according to Guinness's records, they "are no longer able to recognize records which have been attempted before the implementation of our product endorsement records policy and are a direct product endorsement. As such, the last holder of the record is that set by the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport with a speed of 431.072 kph (267.86 mph), which has been marked as 'disqualified.' The Veyron Super Sport vehicle that achieved the record title in 2010 was not the actual car that was sold to the public."

The customer cars were limited to 258 mph.

Status: Speed set by modified prototype and not a production-spec car - NOT ELIGIBLE


SSC Ultimate Aero TT - 256.14 MPH

So what car does Guinness consider to be the world's fastest production car? Well, according to the record book, the official title dates back to 13 September 2007, when the Shelby SuperCars Ultimate Aero TT managed a two-way average of 256.14 mph on Washington's Highway 221. The Ultimate Aero TT is a precursor to the Tuatara mentioned above and was a twin-turbo version of the regular Ultimate Aero. 24 were produced from 2006-2007, powered by a twin-turbo 6.3-liter LS6 engine developing 1,180 hp and 1,106 lb-ft of torque.

The car was updated in 2009 with a revised front end and a 15% increase in power to 1,287 hp. In this form, SSC predicted a top speed of 267 mph, but it only reached 258 mph in a single-direction, unverified test.

Status: 100% ELIGIBLE + Guinness World Records certified

Jacob Frey/Wikipedia
Jacob Frey/Wikipedia
Shane K/Wikipedia

Hennessey Venom F5 - ~311 MPH

If the Hennessey Venom GT wasn't eligible for a number of reasons, then the Venom F5 wants to fix those issues. The Venom F5 is an official Hennessey product with its own VIN and bespoke construction, immediately rectifying the issue of its status as a production car. Additionally, 24 coupes will be built, 30 Spyder variants, and a further 24 track-focused Venom F5 Revolution coupes.

Behind the cockpit of this mid-engine hypercar, a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V8 dubbed Fury produces 1,817 hp and 1,193 lb-ft of torque. With this, Hennessey claims a top speed of 311 mph is possible. However, that figure has not yet been proven. Thus far, Hennessey managed a 271.6-mph run last year, only shifting into top gear at 268 mph. Hennessey is targeting a 300-mph run this year and may even use Texas highways to attempt the new record.

Status: Claimed speed unverified - NOT ELIGIBLE... YET

Rear Angle View Hennessey
Aft View Hennessey

Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut - ~330.5 MPH

Koenigsegg has proven its uncanny knack for speed, with founder and CEO Christian von Koenigsegg describing speed as "low-hanging fruit" for the company. In that same interview with CarBuzz, CvK conceded the dangers of gunning for top speeds, admitting that the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut - the high-speed version of the 'regular' Jesko Attack - would attempt one "last stab" at a top speed record before the brand focuses on other things. But just how fast is Christian aiming to go? According to simulations, the Jesko Absolut is capable of a 330.5-mph top speed.

We have no doubt Koenigsegg will attempt to hit that lofty figure, but at the time of this writing, it's entirely speculative as to how fast it will go. And if no speed has been verified, then technically, the Jesko doesn't yet deserve a spot on this list.

Status: Claimed speed unverified - NOT ELIGIBLE... YET

Front View Koenigsegg
Rear View Koenigsegg
Lateral View Koenigsegg

Rimac Nevera - 258 MPH

It's almost the lowest top speed on this list, but since it's faster than the current Guinness World Record holder, the Rimac Nevera deserves to be here. In November last year, the 1,914-hp electric hypercar reached 258 mph at the Automotive Testing Papenburg track in Germany. This made it the world's fastest electric production car. The record was set by the official chief test and development driver, Miro Zrncevic, on the production Michelin Cup 2R tires with a Michelin tech on-hand to ensure the car's safety. Verified by Racelogic, the Nevera hit the exact speed it was predicted to in simulation runs. While Rimac admits customer cars will be limited to 219 mph, "special customer events with the support from the Rimac team and under controlled conditions" will see this limiter removed. Perhaps Mate Rimac, now CEO of Bugatti-Rimac, learned a lesson from Guinness disqualifying the Veyron SS for its governed V-max.

The only caveat to the Nevera's top speed run was that it was achieved in a single direction, so its validity remains dubious.

Status: Speed only set in one direction - NOT ELIGIBLE

Side Angle Driving Rimac
Central Console Rimac
Rear View Rimac
Rear View Driving Rimac

The Verdict: Who Builds The Fastest Verified Production Car In The World?

The nine cars listed here are all incredible in their own way, but not all of them have achieved their theoretical top speeds. In some cases, they're bold proclamations with zero foundation, and in others, they're best-case scenarios, as without a two-way run, the best-case numbers could have been achieved with tailwinds and downhill slopes bolstering their performances. So with all that in mind and the criteria originally listed as clearly defined rules of eligibility, what are the fastest street-legal cars in the world as of 2022? We have the list, or at least the top three:

  1. SSC Tuatara - 282.9 mph
  2. Koenigsegg Agera RS - 277.87 mph
  3. Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ - 273 mph (limited)

Thereafter, things get a little fuzzy, as many production supercars can hit their claimed top speeds, and even those that fall short may be faster than the claims of some others, making it difficult to list the top 10 fastest street-legal cars in their entirety. So while the three above are the ones we feel are verifiable, we take nothing away from the achievements of any of the automakers on this list. We're in absolute awe of each and every one of them for challenging the limits of what we thought possible, and look forward to seeing what Koenigsegg, Bugatti, Hennessey, and SSC do next.

Forward Vision Hennessey

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2021-2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Rear Angle View
2021-2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Front View Driving
2021-2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Rear View

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