Mine’s faster than yours
Endless supercar one-upmanship a fast fool’s game
Somewhere, someplace, someone is contemplating buying a Hennessey Venom GT over a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
He will not choose the new 1,244 horsepower hypercar over the merely 1,200-hp Veyron because it is built in the United States.
He — and it is always a he; those of the XX persuasion have far too much sense for such shenanigans — will not opt for Texas hubris over German engineering because the Venom is prettier, more comfortable or even better handling than the Veyron.
And it most certainly won’t be because the Hennessey is a little more affordable than the Bugatti’s $2.5 million US MSRP.
Nope, what will get said plutocrat, oligarch or drug lord to fork over the requisite $1 million is the recent news that a Venom GT, driven by former Michelin test driver Brian Smith, clocked 270.49 miles per hour racing along the Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle landing strip in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Now, in and of itself, that’s a pretty impressive figure, especially converted into a metric-friendly 435.311 kilometres an hour.
But what’s getting all the attention in the media this week isn’t the Venom’s turn of speed in absolute terms, but that it is faster than Bugatti’s formerly all-conquering Veyron. Indeed, much ado is being made of the fact that Hennessey’s twice-turbo road rocket is 0.63 mph faster than the most rapid of quadruply turbocharged Bugattis.
If that sounds like a petty advantage on which to rest laurels, then you’re in complete agreement with your normally horse power-obsessed Motor Mouth.
Not only is top speed the least significant of performance metrics for an automobile ostensibly designed for public roads (and let us now all bow our heads and pray that none of the nimrods that can afford such beasts ever try to replicate this feat on the street), but said advantage only climbs out of the fractional — to 1.01 — when we convert it into lesser kilometres an hour.
Petty doesn’t even begin to describe two billionaires arguing over which of their multi-million supercars is faster when you just know that both probably soil their drawers every time they get it over half throttle (the Hennessey, though nominally faster, can’t be recognized by the Guinness World Book of records because it failed to make two-passes at its top speed).
If anyone needs an automotive metaphor proving that the world’s income inequality issue has left the sublime far behind, this is it.
One could blame John Hennessey for further perpetuating such folly. Or Ferdinand Piech (the Volkswagen Group’s supervisory board chairman and the motivating force behind the creation of the Veyron) for starting it.
But, the simple truth is that they can indulge themselves in such silliness because they know there’s some nouveau riche dot-com’er out there with nothing left do with his money, aching for a little automotive one-upmanship no matter how insignificant.
And the upper end of the car market is literally awash in trinkets appealing to the fantastically wellto-do.
Porsche, McLaren and Ferrari have all recently unveiled (the 918, P1 and LaFerrari, respectively) hyperhybrids whose mega motors are only matched by their mega price tags.
Indeed, there would be a fourth contender for the fastest “green” car on the planet except that Jaguar didn’t think the C-X75 could support the requisite MSRP because hedge funds managers didn’t think the Jaguar brand would cause enough envy among the hoi polloi.