Sam Philip04 August 2014

Target 290mph: it’s Hennessey’s Venom F5

EXCLUSIVE: TG brings you the 1400bhp twin-turbo Texan aiming to smash the production speed record. Be afraid

Here it is, a world-first look at Hennessey's Venom F5, Texas's V8 twin-turbo hyper-thing aiming not just to go quicker than the 268mph Veyron Super Sport, but blow the pesky Bugatti into the weeds, targeting a top speed of 290mph. Perhaps even more.

"I think something in the 290mph range will be possible," boss John Hennessey tells TG in an exclusive interview. Normally a claim so big from a manufacturer so small should be taken with a pretty hefty helping of scepticism. But don't forget Hennessey has form.

As you'll likely be aware, earlier this year Hennessey's first hypercar, the 1,244bhp Venom, hit 270.49mph on Nasa's Kennedy Space Center runway: faster than the Veyron Super Sport's 269.86mph recorded vmax (the Bugatti's official 267.86mph figure, if you're wondering, was the average of its upwind and downwind runs at Ehra-Lessien).

That run wasn't enough to pinch the official Guinness top speed crown from Bugatti - the Venom's run was only made in one direction, not both ways as required - but still emphatically proved the point. The Venom ain't slow.

TG takes the Bugatti Veyron across Route 66

And the F5 - named after a particularly destructive breed of tornado, not the refresh button on your keyboard - is Venom upgraded: more aero, more tech and, of course, more power.

How much more power? Hennessey isn't revealing precise figures yet - partly because he's still figuring out exactly how much extra juice there is to be squeezed from the 7.0 twin-turbo V8 - but tells TG "it could possibly exceed 1,400bhp".

Kerbweight will remain under 1,300kg - the standard Venom weighs 1,244kg, and there's no reason to suspect the F5, with its all-carbon bodywork, should be significantly heavier - meaning this car will exceed 1,000bhp per tonne in the power-to-weight department. The Veyron SS makes around 630bhp per tonne.

That smart new bodywork, wrapped around a developed version of the mutated Lotus Exige frame that underpins the Venom GT, is far more than just show. The standard Venom GT has a drag coefficient of 0.44, while the F5's figure will dip below 0.40. Hennessey says this added slipperiness won't significantly affect stability at speed. "It'll have more than enough downforce," he says.

Watch - and listen - to the 'standard' Venom GT go from 0-230mph

In addition to the six-speed manual offered in the current Venom, the F5 will be offered with a single-clutch paddle-shift transmission: a dual-clutch 'box was rejected on grounds of weight and durability.

There's trick new GPS-based traction control, which can, we're told, be calibrated to specific racetracks. Hennessey namedrops the Nürburgring Nordschliefe. Jeez.

The Venom F5 will land next year, with first deliveries reaching customers in 2016. A production run of over 30 cars is planned. Prices are to be confirmed, but we're told F5 will cost more than the $1,200,000 (plus taxes) Venom GT.

A lot of cash, but potentially a lot of speed. Hennessey is adamant his 290mph-plus claim won't remain merely theoretical, and wants the F5 to secure the production car speed title outright.

"With the F5, we definitely want to validate its top speed potential," says Hennessey. "We'll probably go to Bonneville. But running on the salt flats is a challenge, for sure." Fourteen hundred horses, rear-drive, and a slippery salt surface? Sounds like a challenge to us.

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