Hennessey claims world’s fastest production car with 270-mph Venom GT

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Hennessey-Venom-GTWhat’s the fastest production car in all the land? If you ignore every manufacturer posting theoretical stats and discredit the supersonic jet fighters without wings that rocket over salt flats, it is the Hennessey Venom GT.

Just two weeks earlier on Valentine’s Day, this Texas-built machine reached an astonishing 270.49 mph — and wasn’t finished accelerating.

But to say the Venom GT is the world’s fastest means you’ve discounted the “official” record for the world’s fastest production car, as observed and certified by Guinness. That crown belongs to the $2.5 million, 1200-hp Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which set a 2010 record for 267.86 mph at Volkswagen’s private test track in Germany. Guinness requires two consecutive runs on the same day in opposite directions and then takes the average speed. Hennessey only knocked off one run.

President John Hennessey told Jalopnik that NASA stopped his second run and claimed the speed wouldn’t have changed in either direction. The Houston tuner shop had special clearance to race on the Kennedy Space Center’s runway, the famous 3.2-mile straight in Cape Canaveral, Fla., designed for space shuttle landings.

But certified or not, the Venom GT is a force beyond ordinary words. Watch the video below.

You won’t believe how much speed it carries beyond 200 mph, at which point the ordinary atmosphere becomes an invisible wall to most normal supercars, slowing them down with drag. Like water, air also becomes lethal at these speeds, threatening to tear apart a car’s body as it rushes underneath and seeps into any opening it can find. It’s a fight against Bernoulli’s principle. It’s a fight against friction, heat, vibration — basically, all of the things that would turn that little squeak you hear from your wheels on the highway into a fatal disaster.

None of that happened, which is quite incredible for a small company in Texas to achieve. Bugatti received billions in development from its owner, Volkswagen. How is that possible?

At first glance, the Venom GT appears to be a stretched Lotus Exige. And part of it is, except practically everything has been custom engineered, tested and built by Hennessey. The engine is a 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 1,244 horsepower, the curb weight is barely 2,750 pounds and there is not a single luxury or safety feature inside the car but a windshield and a six-speed manual. How it’s certified for road use, we’re not sure. But in case you think it’d fall apart, Hennessey already received a Guinness record for the fastest production car from 0-300 kph (186 mph) one year earlier, at 13.63 seconds.

Bugatti, when asked, will say it’s not aware of Hennessey’s achievements. We know that’s bogus, given the Internet traffic around everything Hennessey and Bugatti ever do. Both need to be commended. Bugatti has built the world’s fastest luxury car, a vehicle that drives as simply and quietly as a Volkswagen Golf yet can instantly switch personalities at the touch of the throttle. Hennessey built a bare-bones race car for the street that shows the pinnacle of minimalist construction.

It’s a great time to be alive.

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Based in Connecticut, he writes for BestRide, Car and Driver, The Boston Globe and other publications.