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These Are The Things Most People Don’t Know About The Hennessey Venom GT

Steven Tyler had a part in its design.

John Hennessey is the Carol Shelby of our time. He may not have earned a right to put his name on stock performance Mustangs, but for those who buy a Corvette, Camaro, Viper, or even a Ferrari 458 Italia and want more power, John Hennessey is the man to call. The Texas tuner got his start making cars with cartoon amounts of power. Think Dodge Vipers with 1,120 horsepower or GMC Yukon Denalis that can beat Challenger Hellcats in the quarter mile.

No matter what the car, Hennessey will take it under its wing and tune the engine to spit out pure rage. While most supercar companies obsess with the latest composite materials, technology, and design, John Hennessey has only one goal: to go really, really fast. Despite having the same top speed aspirations in mind as Bugatti, the execution couldn’t be more different. As an old school American muscle tuner, Hennessey wanted to get to the edge of the speedometer using means that have been around since the hot rod era. Complex engines and prestige don't matter here; Hennessey is the new money type of supercar manufacturer and his cars don't need fancy badges to snatch world records.

To reach hypercar status without over engineering things he exploited the common enemy of all cars: weight. People think of supercars like the Ferrari 488 GTB as lightweight, but compared to the Venom GT the 488 may as well be a boulder. It lugs around 700 pounds extra over the Hennessey’s 2,743-pound curb weight. In fact, the Hennessey weighs less than many small cars like the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500e. Therein lies the secret of the Venom GT. Fiat weight and monster performance, which means that the chassis must be able to control the power well. Given that it starts as a Lotus and ends as a slightly bigger shell with a longer and wider track, its size helps it to cut through the air more easily and handle very well.

Hennessey makes sure to add plenty of downforce to keep things stable, which jacks its drag coefficient to .43 (a Tesla Model S has a Cd of .24 for reference) and enables 1,050 pounds of downforce at 150 mph. The emphasis on lightness means that the Lotus that is scarified to become a Hennessey Venom GT leaves as a completely different car than the one that came in. The only parts from the donor car that remain are the roof, doors, side glass, windscreen, cockpit, floor pan, HVAC system, wipers, and headlamps. The car must be registered as a modified Lotus but aside from those parts the rest of the body is made of carbon fiber that is stuck onto an aluminum space hybrid monocoque frame that happens to have a monster inside.

The platform that makes up the car may be a piece of art, but the heart and soul of the car lies in the engine. The special feel of the machine comes from the two-punch combo of being a featherweight that has more power than a Bugatti Veyron. To achieve this, Hennessey doesn’t use fancy W16 engines. Instead, the GM LSX that lives under 24-karat gold leaf heat shields in the engine compartment is bored out to 7.0-liters before having two turbochargers added. Three boost settings give the driver the option to choose from 800 horsepower, 1,000 horsepower, and the full 1,244 horses. There is also a Hennessey Venom GT Spider, which makes up to 1,451 hp and only exists because Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler asked for one.

A torque rating of 1,155 lb-ft means that earthquakes can be caused with a twitch of the throttle, and the whole thing is kept hydrated by a dry-sump oil system to help keep the car low to the ground. The anger of the car doesn’t stop until 7200 RPM, which in the sixth and tallest gear of the Ford GT-sourced Ricardo transmission means that you’re traveling near the 270 mph top speed that was set by the Hennessey team. Drivers need to be careful at these absurd speeds, especially because there are no airbags or traction control systems on this car. It may seem like a downside but it adds to the unrefined nature of the vehicle and makes a true hero out of the driver, unlike most of today's cars which are filled with endless driver nannies.

The only thing keeping the driver safe is a suede-covered roll cage and 15” carbon ceramic Brembo brakes. The front end of the Venom GT gets more consideration than the driver because of a lift system that is installed to enable it to climb up driveways. In the racing world, seconds mean everything. That’s why it might be surprising to learn that in a race from 0-200 mph, the Hennessey Venom GT beats out the “fastest” car in the world (the Bugatti Veyron) by four seconds. Considering that the Venom costs only $1 million dollars, less than a Veyron, we’d say that this stat makes it good value. Speaking of value, they throw in a sound system designed by Steven Tyler as well!

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