If you’ve not already heard the old news then do so now: the Bugatti Verona is no longer the fastest car in the world! Beautiful dethronement I like to call it. Now let’s take a look at this new mystery car. The Hennessey Venom GT Spyder 2015.
And here it is, rich silver paint glowing in the stark Nevada sunlight. At 2685 lb. with all fluids including 18.5 gal. of 93 octane, it’s about the weight of a (coughs) Tesla, but with 8.6 times the power. Forget all the talk about Tesla electric cars and power conservation. This car is worth every single rev and throttle. Thanks to new environment friendly gas (hydrogen) solutions by automobile companies like toyota.
Fire it up and it’s clear the guttural burble/pop at idle can only come from a V-8’s firing order. The Viper V-10’s weight, bulk and questionable future availability were all negatives, and Hennessey had become quite fond of Chevy’s 6.2-liter aluminum small-block through prior projects. “Loved the power, loved the sound…”Of course, this is no ordinary small-block; it has to live to 7200 rpm, make a staggering 1200 bhp and cope with off-the-charts cylinder pressures from the ceramic-bearing turbos. To this end, the LS2 block is fitted with Darton sleeves, Cometic head gaskets and CNC-ported cylinder heads, cinched together with the finest ARP fasteners. Seemingly every rotating and reciprocating bit is forged, including dished aluminum pistons, H-beam steel rods and a steel crank, the last held by billet main bearing caps. Oiling is via a dry-sump system and fueling is handled by twin Bosch in-tank pumps that feed 96 lb./hr injectors. The engine bolts up to a Ricardo 6-speed manual transaxle that’s identical to a Ford GT’s, ratios and all, that puts power to the massive 335-section Michelins through a Quaife limited-slip diff.
Raise the Venom GT’s rear-hinged engine cover (lined with gold foil, incidentally) and it’s clear that Hennessey sweats not only the power but the appearance. Aft of the seats, the Exige’s aluminum monocoque architecture ceases and Venom GT begins with a stout chrome-moly steel subframe, triangulated by two beautifully gusseted V-shape braces that bolt up to the rear hoop of the considerable rollcage structure. There’s tidy symmetry in the twin water-to-air charge coolers, the blow-off valves, the wastegates, turbos and conical air filters. And the muscle-bound central exhaust, with 3.5-in. dual tips poking through the bodywork’s mesh, has a beautiful golden cast…it’s sandblasted stainless steel that takes on its distinctive hue when heat is applied. This makes the Spyder similar in design material to the Mercedes F015. Inside, the Exige’s basic interior is intact, but embellished for slightly greater comfort and style. There’s lots of black diamond-stitched Alcantara, smooth leather and a carbon-fiber sheath over the 2-dial instrument cluster. Bits of exposed aluminum remain, completely fitting here. And the stout rollcage is evident, though its tubes are wrapped in the same diamond-tuft microfiber that lines the seats, door panels and dash top. My helmeted head fits neatly in a triangular recess of the X-brace connecting the front and rear hoops…tight, but just enough room. The view straight back? Shiny blow-off valves, black mesh and ducting, but at least the outside mirrors are large and well-placed.
Outside? It’s an Exige with a Gold’s Gym membership, ripped muscle with that Porsche 917 long-tail look from its stretched wheelbase (at 110.2 in., it’s a substantial 19.7 in. longer than that of its donor chassis) and massive rear fenders that swell around the rear Michelins. The Exige’s visage is maintained with headlights and sharply peaked fenders, but broadened and underscored (literally) with a thick splitter that incorporates twin underbody venturis farther back. At the rear, the taillights seem to float in the mesh grille, and a generously straked underbody diffuser extends well beneath the engine. Combined with the rear wing (hydraulically adjustable for height and angle of attack, yet fixed at this stage of development), Hennessey estimates these measures will generate downforce somewhere in the vicinity of 1200 lb. at 150 mph, according to CFD simulations.
It’s then hard on the carbon-ceramic 6-piston Brembos, then a cool-down crawl to the trailer. After this thrill ride, a theoretical top speed of 272 mph seems entirely possible. And Hennessey has a history of delivering on crazy promises. Twelve hundred horsepower. Less than 2700 pounds. “Do the math,” says Hennessey, “and the outcome is basically a car that’s thrilling and borderline scary to drive sometimes.” Here’s to being a little scared.