Spitting Venom: The 1,451-Horsepower, Twin-Turbo World Champ

Twin-turbo V8 engine
Hennessey Venom | Source: Hennessey Performance via Facebook

While some people may drool over off-road monster trucks like the Mercedes-Benz Zetros 2733 A 6×6, many of us prefer a bit of top-end speed to go with all that torque. Being a death-defying world record holder isn’t in the cards for 99% of us (as it requires gratuitous sums of money and cojones the size of Death Stars), but every so often someone from the 1% steps out of the shadows, intent on smashing all that has come before.

Take Texas-based Hennessey Performance, for example. In the past we have seen the company unleash strong off-road offerings and supercharged American sports cars, and even embarrass the 1,200-horsepower Bugatti Veyron with a high-speed run that topped out at 265.7 miles per hour. Now, the tuning shop from the Lone Star State is back with a revised version of the tightly-wound, $1.4-million Venom GT, and my god, is it intimidating. But before we get into the meat of the matter, let’s back up and go over how this ass-kicker came to be.

Almost a decade ago, Hennessey Performance trounced some of the world’s most infamous speed machines with a twin-turbo Dodge Viper during a Road & Track supercar slugfest. But company founder John Hennessey was not overly satisfied with how it was stacking up in the curb weight department, and kept joking about how he needed to just put the Viper motor in the back of a Lotus Exige. But after looking over a few rough sketches, the company mastermind realized that this wan’t such a far-fetched idea after all. Thus, the building of the world record holder began in earnest.

The twin-turbo, 7.0-liter LS7 V8 that ultimately wound up in the back of the Lotus could be tweaked from the cockpit with a the selection of 800-, 1,000-, and 1,244-horsepower settings. Hitting 60 in 2.7 seconds and owning the quarter mile in just 9.92 seconds at 163 miles per hour, the little 2,743-pound Venom was an instant success story for the aftermarket tuning shop. And now it’s back for more.

The Hennessey Venom GT, the world's fastest car
The Hennessey Venom GT, the world’s fastest car | Source: Hennessey Performance via Facebook

While the original incarnation hit 270.49 miles per hour back in February of 2014, Hennessey feels that if it had not run out of tarmac it could have gone on to higher speeds. To this day, the company still claims that this remains a “top-speed record for a production car,” even though the Venom GT is by no means a traditional “production vehicle.” Also, this record still has yet to be recognized by Guinness because Hennessey didn’t complete a second run during its trial, so in an effort to get it right this time, Hennessey Performance has pulled out all the stops and upped the level of insanity to 11.

First revealed at SEMA last year, this retuned version now has more ponies at its disposal, and since the old Venom GT kept running into issues with the length of the Kennedy Space Center’s runway down in Florida, a new venue had to be sourced in order to accommodate.

In order to get all that extra oomph, Hennessey upped the boost levels of the twin-turbo V8 from 19 to 26 PSI, and then tweaked it so that it could safely run on E85 ethanol. After a series of engine management re-calibrations, the bright yellow blur now consistently puts down an even more impressive top speed, while harnessing 1,451 horsepower.

Then, on March 25 of 2016, Hennessey released the video you see here. Its Venom GT Spyder had set a new world record for open-top sports cars at the Naval Air Station Lemoore. It was on that elongated runway that independent speed testing firm Racelogic confirmed that a top speed of 265.6 miles per hour (427.3 kilometers per hour) was achieved. Witnessed by US Navy Commander Darren Fouts, Air Operations Officer, and driven by Brian Smith, this record-holding convertible has officially been crowned the ultimate turbocharged two-seater.