Hennessey Reveals Venom F5

Hennessey has been claiming big power and performance figures for years. But the Texan tuner’s move into production of its own hypercar raises them to a new level. Believe the company’s figures and the Venom F5 is set to be the most powerful production car in the world, one with a targeted top speed of more than 311 mph.

Skepticism is to be expected, given some of the controversy that has dogged Hennessey in the past. But we have seen the first Venom F5 in the UK and, although it is obviously too early to confirm its ability to deliver its outlandish numbers, it definitely isn’t vaporware.

While the early Venom GT was produced around a Lotus Exige tub, the Venom F5 is all Hennessey. It is named after the highest rating on the Fujita scale of hurricane strength. Although some changes have been made to the F5 compared to the styling model the company showed at SEMA in 2017, most obviously losing the concept’s raised rear wing, the finished design is very similar. Construction uses a carbon fiber tub made by KS Composites in England and claimed to weigh just 190 pounds naked. This carries aluminum subframes front and rear with double wishbone suspension at each corner, the back frame also mounting the monstrous 6.6-liter pushrod V8.

Dubbed ‘Fury’ by Hennessey, this has 90-degrees between its cylinder banks and uses a cast iron block and aluminum heads. Connecting rods and pistons are forged, crank and camshaft made from billet steel and the engine also features titanium intake and Inconel exhaust valves. Two turbochargers use 76 mm compressor wheels within titanium castings and are claimed to be able to make up to 23 PSI of boost. The result is a scarcely feasible 1817 hp at 8000 rpm and 1193 lb-ft of torque at 5000rpm. John Hennessey says using a pushrod engine gives advantage in terms of both packaging and the engine’s center of gravity. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed CIMA automated single-clutch transmission and limited-slip differential.

Using lightweight construction, Hennessey claims the Venom F5 weighs just 3,053 pounds, giving it a weight to horsepower ratio superior to any other modern hypercar. Using Hennessey’s numbers, it is more than a third better than the Koenigsegg One:1. Small wonder, then, that acceleration numbers are equally outlandish. Hennessey has only released figures corresponding to 100 km/h increments, but says the Venom F5 will be able to get from 0-62mph (100km/h) in 2.6 seconds, 0-124mph (200km/h) in 4.7 seconds, 0-186mph (300km/h) in 8.4 seconds and 0-248mph (400km/h) in 15.5 seconds. For perspective on how utterly otherworldly those numbers are, consider they are 0.2 seconds slower, 1.8 seconds faster, 5.2 seconds faster, and 17.1 seconds faster than the times Bugatti claims for the Chiron over the same benchmarks. Hennessey says it is targeting a top speed of more than 500km/h – that’s 311 mph.

Suspension development on the Venom F5 was led by John Heinricy, formerly long-serving director of General Motors’ Performance Division. The car uses coil-over springs and passive dampers, but these can be adjusted for bump and rebound. Ride height can be varied at each end, done so to manage airflow over the surfaces of the car’s fixed aerodynamic surfaces. They also do without active elements. We don’t have any downforce figures, but Production Director David Davis says the design works to give the F5 confidence boosting high-speed performance without excessive drag. The company says the car has a 0.39 coefficient of drag.

Unlike most rivals, the F5 has its main radiator at the front of the car, with the air intakes behind the doors channeling cooling to oil and gearbox coolers. The rear engine cover isn’t clear and is filled with cooling louvers. At the rear of the car the bumper and grille is a single piece of carbon fiber, with each vent hole having been individually milled by a CNC machine. The quad exhaust pipes are covered with a special material to help with heat dissipation.

The F5’s cabin is accessed through hypercar-appropriate butterfly opening doors, and the sills of the carbon fiber tub are noticeably thinner than those of most alternatives. Design is functional rather than luxurious, with leather and carbon fiber trim and controls for headlights, wipers, turn signals and the car’s five dynamic modes (Wet, Sport, Track, Drag and the top-speed unlocking F5) integrated into the face of the yoke-style steering wheel. Space is adequate for taller occupants and the fit and finish seemed subjectively high; the first car has been built in England but Hennessey is building subsequent examples in Sealy, Texas.

The lack of airbags means the Venom F5 will be sold under Show & Display exemption rather than full Federal approval. John Hennessey says getting the car to this stage has required an eight-figure sum, claiming the money has come both from the success of the existing Hennessey tuning business, but also an investment from Shell Pennzoil. Just 24 of the F5 Venom are being built, and Hennessey claims that “between 12 and 14” have already been spoken for, despite the car’s $2.1 million price. John Hennessey has also confirmed he is planning to use some of the same architecture in more affordable models that will sell in greater numbers, but that none of these will be faster than the Venom F5.

“What might volume look like? We might go from doing 24 cars to doing maybe 100 cars a year,” Hennessey said, “the price point going from $2.1 million down to maybe $1 million. But I don’t ever foresee us cranking out thousands of Hennessey bespoke cars like a McLaren or a Ferrari.”

Hennessey says he is also planning to validate the car’s top speed with an independently verified record attempt, firstly on the 3.2-mile runway at the Kennedy Space Center and then – if this proves not to be sufficiently long – moving to a closed section of public highway.

“If we do set a record, then great – we’ll be glad to share that number with the rest of the world,” Hennessey said, “but we’re not just going to the runway and trying to go out and nail a glory number for marketing. Along the way, if we determine that the top speed is 290 mph or whatever the right number is, we might need to put a speed limit on the car, it’s about the experience for our clients and protecting their safety as well as protecting the brand and everybody who stands behind this program.”

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