Hennessey Performance reveals 300mph F5 Venom

16th December 2020
Bob Murray

Bugatti might have got there first, but Texas tuning legend turned hypercar maker John Hennessey isn’t giving up on his 300mph dream just yet. This is the car Hennessey believes will make that dream come true, the F5 Venom.

We have seen the F5 before – it made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018 – but never before as the finished article. You see it here as a fully equipped $2.1m (plus taxes) bespoke carbon-fibre hypercar, complete with a twin-turbo 6.6-litre V8 squeezed in behind the seats. Yes, old-fashioned petrol power, there’s nothing electric here.

Powerful? With 1,817PS you would have to say so. It’s the most powerful production road car combustion engine ever made, claims John Hennessey, founder and CEO of Hennessey Performance, a company that has made its name over the past 30 years extracting up to 2,000PS to make already fast cars and pickups go a great deal faster. In 2014 it turned a Lotus Exige into its first bespoke supercar, the 1244PS Venom GT – it clocked 270mph – and the F5 Venom is that car’s spiritual successor. Incidentally, F5 in the name is a meteorological term for the highest-rated tornado speed.


So how fast will the F5 Venom be? Top speed target is 311mph (500km/h); if it were actually able to pull peak revs in the seventh ratio of the semi-automatic gearbox it would hit 334mph ­– given a long enough run up. It may well be, says Hennessey, that the 3.2-mile long Shuttle runway at the NASA Kennedy Space Center won’t in fact be long enough, in which case the F5 Venom will strut its top speed stuff on a closed public highway in the US when testing starts in 2021.

Whether it emerges from the tests as officially the world’s fastest car or not is a moot point. Bugatti clocked 304.77mph with its Chiron Super Sport prototype last year while the American SSC Tuatara is said to have gone on to 316mph, both speeds well ahead of the long-standing (and officially recognised) 277.9mph set by the Koenigsegg Agera RS.

Hennessey appears to be leaving nothing to chance in the recognition stakes. The Texan outfit says the car will be 100 per cent production (it plans to make 24 of them in total); will run on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres; that two-way speeds will be recorded using VBOX GPS data acquisition systems set up by Racelogic engineers; and that the tests will be independently verified.


That’s the challenge then, and the F5 Venom appears well up for it.  The numbers speak for themselves: 1,817PS at 8,000rpm with 1,617Nm of torque at 5,000rpm. That’s 277PS per litre from the twin-turbo big block V8. Dry weight is 1,360kg thanks to a carbon-fibre monocoque and body panels, along with a spartan, jet fighter-style cabin. Power to weight ratio is 1,298PS per tonne (or 1.34PS per kg if you prefer), and that along with close ratio lower gears shows up in acceleration: 0-62mph in under three seconds and 0-124mph in 4.7 seconds.

Top speed is about wind resistance though. The F5 Venom’s drag coefficient is 0.39, with the car’s surprisingly subtle aero – nothing much on show apart from front splitter and big rear diffuser – chiefly concerned with keeping it stuck to the tarmac at 300mph plus.

The subtle aero makes it an attractive and unassuming car, more like your 200mph supercar than 300mph hypercar. The proportions appear good and there’s a curvy slenderness to the shape as well as a strong wedge profile. The windscreen is surprisingly upright and the pillars nicely slim, while the dihedral doors take a section of sill with them when lifted to ease access. With restrained side scoops and only a vestigial rear wing incorporated in the rear bodywork, there’s nothing wildly extrovert here and it’s all the better for it.

You can pretty much guess the rest of the spec: double wishbone suspension, coil-over dampers (by Penske), carbon ceramic brakes (by Brembo, with AP Racing callipers), and forged aluminium wheels, 19s front, 20s rear, wearing those giant Michelins. The car has five modes: Sport, Wet, Drag, Track and F5, each of which alters the power delivery and traction and braking performance for the conditions. Only the F5 mode unlocks maximum power.

What perhaps you can’t guess is that driving dynamics have been honed by John Heinricy: well-known US racer and vehicle dynamics expert and former head of GM High Performance Vehicles.

Heinricy cites McLaren’s 600LT and the Porsche Cayman GT4 as examples of cars that offer the level of driver involvement and feel he has been after in the Hennessey’s driving dynamics. It is recognition perhaps that with the “first 300mph car” title now less than clear than it was, the F5 Venom has to go round corners as well as in a straight line. The company insists it will offer an “exhilarating all-round driving experience”.

As John Hennessey says: “Our customers love speed, so we’re fired-up to push the boundaries of what’s possible to attempt the world’s fastest production car record, but the Venom F5 is about more than just speed and power. This car will handle superbly.”

At last, a true American hypercar to beat the  best from Europe? Videos of the car in high speed action are promised for next year so watch this space…

  • Hennessey Performance

  • F5 Venom

  • 300mph

  • hypercar

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