The world's fastest production car to reach 300 kilometers per hour from a standing start was dreamed and built just outside Houston.
The Hennessey Venom GT set a Guinness World Record for reaching 300 kph (186 mph) in 13.63 seconds, besting the Swedish-made Koenigsegg Agera R by almost a full second. To understand the gravity of those numbers, consider that the average family sedan needs seven or eight seconds to hit 60 mph. A Porsche 911 Turbo S, one of the world's hardest-accelerating sports cars save for a $2 million Bugatti Veyron, reaches 127 mph in about 11 seconds.
By unofficial record, the Venom GT smoked the Veyron Super Sport to 200 mph by nearly eight seconds. Aside from being dropped from a plane or taking off from an aircraft carrier, no acceleration a human being can feel on this earth is so murderous.
And yet, if you see the video below, the whole affair starts rather calmly, with a touch of wheel spin. Gear whine and whirring turbos dominate much of the furious soundtrack, and the flame-spitting engine remarkably doesn't go to pieces on the two Guinness runs, which Hennessey says were performed within one hour of each other. Hennessey, a tuner that recently clocked 220 mph on a Texas highway in a modified Cadillac, says this is "just the first of several validation tests." In other words, it wants to break the speed record held by the 268-mph Veyron Super Sport.
We're not sure how Hennessey customers, who include Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, will be able to explore the Venom GT's explosive performance outside the 8,000-foot Texas airstrip where Guinness observed the record run. Loosely based on a Lotus Exige, the Venom GT packs 1,244 horsepower on just 2,743 pounds, giving it the kind of power-to-weight ratio that lets MotoGP cyclists run circles around most, if not all, 4-wheeled supercars. Now, it's founder John Hennessey's turn to shove his name in the face of Ferrari, Bugatti and anything else with a fancy European badge. (Of note, Hennessey has been talking about destroying Bugatti since at least 2006, when he introduced the Venom 1000, based on the last-generation Viper. Finally, all the talk is real.)
What's startling is that beyond the widened, stretched carbon-fiber body, the Venom GT is unusually old-school. Like the Agera, the Venom GT uses a twin-turbo V8 engine -- in this case, borrowed from the Corvette Z06 -- a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. There is no idiot-proof automatic transmission and no dial to perfectly fine-tune the torque split. A quick time in a Venom GT, even with sticky Michelin Pilots and virtually no wind, owes as much to the driver as it does to the car.
Only 29 Venom GT models will be made for at least $1.2 million each, with about 10 already sold. That's not entirely what we would cite for a "production" car; the last Ferrari Enzo reached 400 cars, while Bugatti has made at least 300. Still, it's not from Maranello or Molsheim. It's from freakin' Texas.