Hennessey’s Venom F5 could be the first road car to break 300 miles per hour

Faster than an F1 car and named after an F5 tornado, the newest Hennessey Venom is the kind of car that unquestionably belongs at the Geneva Motor Show. It is all about raw power and radical design. It’s also about as rare as they come, with just 24 being made — half of which the company says have already been bought for a cool $1.6 million each.

Much of what we know about the Venom F5 are the stats that Hennessey Special Vehicles, the small company behind the car, has already shared. Teased for nearly a full year at this point, the Hennessey Venom F5’s 1,600 horsepower twin turbo V8 is supposedly capable of pushing the car to 301 miles per hour. The company’s founder, John Hennessey, said in a statement, “It’s no question of if we will break 300 mph but a question of when.” (More on this in a moment.)

The Venom F5’s carbon fiber monocoque is surrounded by aluminum, making the car a relatively light 1,360 kilograms (or just under 3,000 pounds). All told, it can hit 186 miles per hour in less than 10 seconds, and get to nearly 250 miles per hour and back to a stop in 30.

That means the Venom F5 is heavier than the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, which was announced at Geneva earlier this week. But since the Aston was built specifically for track performance and has a more, uh, modest top speed of 225 miles per hour, and since the Hennessey was built for lunacy, the Venom F5 would ultimately crush the Valkyrie AMR Pro in a straight line.

Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

And while we’re theoretically pitting it against other crazy cars from this year’s show, the really fun matchup would be to see the Venom F5 take on the Rimac Concept Two. Again, the Venom F5’s claimed top speed of over 300 miles per hour makes the Rimac’s 258mph somehow sound pedestrian. But the Concept Two is definitely quick. It can hit 100 miles per hour in under five seconds, per Rimac, and eclipses the Venom F5’s horsepower claim by 300 or so. That would make for a fun drag race.

As for the 300 mile per hour claim, it’s thought to be one of the last achievable milestones when it comes to road cars. Hennessey sure isn’t the only company trying to get to it first; other specialty carmakers like Bugatti and Koenigsegg have been inching closer to the mark over the last few years, with the latter touching 284mph late last fall (though its averaged speed across two attempts was 278mph). Other, less recognizable companies are also trying to throw their hat in the proverbial ring.

Is there meaning, or value, for most people in any of these ridiculous numbers? Hell no. These are cars that we all will (probably) never be able to buy or even be able to drive, and if we were, reaching 300 miles per hour is essentially impossible without closing down a long stretch of straight highway. Many good arguments have been made about the work required to reach speeds like 300 miles per hour, and how solving problems like stopping the tires from blowing apart matters just as much as building the car in the first place. Whether a hyper-exclusive company like Hennessey, which was accused of potentially sketchy business behavior back in 2016, can be the one to figure this stuff out remains to be seen.

All the companies making these ludicrous cars are working at or near what is essentially the ceiling of performance for road cars in general, as well as the limit of what the human body and mind can withstand behind the wheel. They do it because it makes for great marketing, but also because it might be one of the only ways to sell someone a multimillion dollar car. I may be a bit jealous of the rich jerks who wind up owning or driving these cars, and in some weird way I’m glad they’re financing these crazy ideas. Of course, like with many bold promises, there’s always a chance that they’re getting taken for a ride, even as they sit behind the wheel.

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