Hennessey reveals its 311mph Top Gun-style supercar


A 311mph Top Gun-style supercar that is aiming to be the most powerful performance machine on the planet is unveiled today.

With a thundering first car designed and engineered at Silverstone in the UK, ahead of going into production in Texas, only 24 of the new Hennessey Venom F5 cars – inspired by jet fighters – will be built. 

It is designed for rich performance car enthusiasts keen to drive it on the road and on the track, but they’d better buy ear-plugs too as it is very loud.

They will need to have deep pockets too, as the car will cost $2.7million or £2million.

The car has key parts supplied from Britain and is the first built from scratch by legendary motor specialist John Hennessey to carry his own name.

In 2021, he celebrates 30 years of a business started in his garage creating his own higher performance versions of muscle cars like the Dodge Viper.

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With a thundering first car designed and engineered at Silverstone in the UK, ahead of going into production in Texas, only 24 of the new Hennessey Venom F5 cars – inspired by jet fighters – will be built

Our man Ray Massey with the Hennessey Venom F5, complete with eye-catching doors. Only 24 cars will be built

Our man Ray Massey with the Hennessey Venom F5, complete with eye-catching doors. Only 24 cars will be built

The cockpit feel continues behind the wheel of the Venom, where wealthy owners will feeling like they are piloting the car

The cockpit feel continues behind the wheel of the Venom, where wealthy owners will feeling like they are piloting the car

Powered by a vast 6.6 litre V8 twin-turbo petrol engine called Fury – after the Sherman tank in the Brad Pitt movie of the same name – the new Venom F5 develops an astonishing 1,187 horsepower (equivalent to 12 Ford Fiestas).

That propels it from rest to 62mph in just 2.6 seconds, up to a top speed projected to be in excess of 311mph (500km/h).

Linked to a seven-speed automatic gear-box with fully manual paddle shift, it’ll also reach 124mph in 4.7 seconds, 186mph in 8.4 seconds and 248mph in 15.5 seconds.

With an engine-power density of 277 horsepower-per-litre, the firm says it is ‘the most powerful production road car engine ever made.’

It is so powerful that owners have to undergo special expert training before being allowed to unlock the final tranche of horsepower that takes it to the absolute maximum F5 mode.

The car is not without other fascinating twists.

The new Venom F5 takes part of its name from the Fujita tornado intensity rating scale – where F5 is the highest category with wind speeds of up to 318mph.

Hennessey’s director of design Nathan Malinick said: ‘At 300mph, you’re more of a pilot than a driver.

‘This guiding principle informed our approach to the interior functionality, layout and mood of the F5.’

He noted: ’Our instrumentation is inspired by fighter jets and NASA rockets, our dash features no buttons to ensure absolute driver focus.’

Not only is the cockpit styled on a fighter jet, the screen behind the driving wheel bears an uncanny resemblance to the gun-sight or bomb aimer of a space ship fighter in Star Wars. The sound of gear-paddles engaging echoes that of a rifle being cocked ready to fire.

Four black exhaust pipes grouped centrally at the rear are coated in the heat-resistant ceramic polymer Cerakote – used on the inside of gun-barrels – and only become a noticeable feature ‘when flames spit as the engine revs peak’.

The entire underside of the rear deck is also treated with the gun barrel coating for additional heat management.  

Powered by a vast 6.6 litre V8 twin-turbo petrol engine called Fury, the £2million Venom F5 can reach 62mph in just 2.6 seconds

Powered by a vast 6.6 litre V8 twin-turbo petrol engine called Fury, the £2million Venom F5 can reach 62mph in just 2.6 seconds

With an engine-power density of 277 horsepower-per-litre, the firm says the Venom F5 is ‘the most powerful production road car engine ever made.’

With an engine-power density of 277 horsepower-per-litre, the firm says the Venom F5 is ‘the most powerful production road car engine ever made.’

Those buttons and dials that do exist on the steering wheel have an industrial feel.

Only clever aerodynamics and generated down-force keeps this craft from taking off and flying. In short it’s pure Top Gun.

Should Tom Cruise – whose much-awaited Top Gun sequel is set to hit post-covid cinemas next year – ever be looking for a new set of wheels, it could be just the job.

But the firm, based in Sealy near Houston, Texas, insists the car is not just about velocity or breaking records, but is ‘an all-round performance machine fuelled by speed which they describe as ‘a decathlete of road cars.’

Aside from the engine built in the USA, some 60 per cent of the car’s construction and components is from UK companies, including the super-lightweight carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, panelling and interior which contributes to the lightweight car weighing just 1,360kg.

A special track pack allows the rear carbon fibre section to be removed and replaced with an aerodynamic wing.

To verify its 311mph-plus speed target, the F5 hypercar is to complete top speed testing in the first half of 2021 at the NASA Kennedy Space Center’s 3.2 mile long Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida,

Subsequent top speed run will follow an intense period of real-world development at Hennessey’s own testing facility and at the Circuit of The Americas race venue. 

Inside the Venom F5 are touches that wouldn't look out of place in a fighter jet - one of the inspirations for its design

Inside the Venom F5 are touches that wouldn’t look out of place in a fighter jet – one of the inspirations for its design

Company founder and CEO John Hennessey said the F5 marks the beginning of a new era of Hennessey vehicles ‘designed to delight the driver and celebrate performance engineering’.

He said: ‘Our customers love speed, so we’re fired-up to push the boundaries of what’s possible to attempt the world’s fastest production car record.

‘But the Venom F5 is about more than just speed and power. This car will handle superbly, quality is exceptional, there are more than 3,000 bespoke parts, materials are exquisite, and everything is a fitting tribute to 30 years of the Hennessey brand.’

Record-breaking attempts are only a part of the story, he insisted: ’Records are there to be broken and our customers love that we push the boundaries of engineering to develop the world’s fastest cars. But, with the F5, we wanted to create a true ‘decathlete’, a car that is about so much more than speed.’

He said too many modern hypercars had become ‘soft and docile’ and that the F5 was their antitheses.

Of the engine, the firm says: ‘Fury lives up to its name: the engine is loud, immensely powerful and offers abundant torque.’

Hennessey noted: ’The engine commands complete respect. It’s intimidating – in a good way. It totally dominates the driving experience and keeps goading you to unleash its power and to try and tame it.’

Who is John Hennessey? The man behind the car 

I first met John Hennessey nearly a quarter of a century ago when I rode shotgun with him in the passenger seat of one of his specially tuned 600 horsepower Dodge Viper Venoms, hurtling for 90 miles across the Nevada Desert in a real life Wacky Races-style open road race adventure on closed off State Highway 318.

John Hennessey is a renowned US car tuner and racer

John Hennessey is a renowned US car tuner and racer 

We even carried our names and respective national banners on the doors of our white beast with the twin blue stripes – mine the Union Flag, his the flag of Texas, the lone star state.

Five years earlier he’d set up his fledgling business upgrading Vipers from his garage and was getting great reviews – even from Dodge who made Viper muscle car.

Just a stone’s throw from the infamous UFO-sighting spot and military airbase Area 51, at an event oozing vintage Americana we stormed the Nevada dust like the Roadrunner to reach the finish line where – belching thick black smoke – we were clocked in at 200mph.

En route, we’d at least once taken flight. But we made it across the line. Some didn’t.

On the eve of the race and after the official briefing we’d had our cars checked over in a ‘beauty pageant’ at the Green Lantern in Ely Nevada, where the well-trained staff of that establishment popped out to choose the best looking car of the event – before later handing out beers and pickles to competitors as they crossed the line.

The event, held in conjunction with the White Pine County Chamber of Commerce and local police, alternates between the Silver State Classic in September and the Nevada Open Road Challenge in cooler May.

Nearly 25 years later over the internet, as he told me about his new venture, we laughed and reminisced about that adventure (singing karaoke with Mr Myagi – the late Pat Morita – from The Karate Kid movie in a Las Vegas Italian restaurant was one left-field moment) and about how far things had moved on.

Hennessey’s business based in Sealy, Texas has grown substantially. Two thirds now includes upgrading pick-up trucks and SUVs, such as the Ford Raptor, which he makes into the more fearsome VelociRaptor.

He also created a 1,000hp Camaro capable of 217mph and called The Exorcist .

His competing in motorsport events covers Pikes Peak and the Bonneville Salt Flats, where he set a class world record.

The new Hennessey Venom F5 is his first car from scratch – but is seen as the beginning of a new range of high performance sports and muscle cars under the Hennessey banner.

With extra factory space he is expanding from 600 to 1,000 cars a year.

One of his colleagues noted: ‘Viewed as an American icon of speed, John has achieved his vision to be the top automotive tuner and builder in the U.S.

‘With a global sales footprint covering the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East he continues to find ways to extract greater performance from some of the world’s most iconic cars, as well as leading the creation of the company’s own world-class hypercar.’

 

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