The need for speed
Modern hypercars have absurd performance, but one number still eludes automakers today. Meet the two cars that hope to crack the magic 300mph mark.
112 years ago on the sands of Ormonde Beach, Florida, Englishman Arthur MacDonald became the first man to go faster than 100mph (160km/h) in a car. The car used for this feat was a Napier L48 that produced around 90hp, and MacDonald achieved a speed of 104.65mph (168km/h).
It would take another 82 years before mankind could go beyond the next 100mph. This was accomplished in 1987 when Ferrari unveiled the F40. It had a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V8 that produced 478hp, which gave it a top speed of 201mph (324km/h). This was 30 years ago, and ever since then, mankind has been trying to go faster than ever, all in the hopes of cracking 300mph (483km/h).
One car that has a good chance of doing so is the Bugatti Chiron. Founded in Germany by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti in 1909, the company has been in the business of going fast from the very beginning. It has almost unrivaled pedigree in this arena since the Veyron and the upgraded version of the Veyron, the Veyron Super Sport, both held titles of the world’s fastest street-legal production car.
The Chiron is the successor to Veyron and is powered by an 8-liter quadturbocharged W16 engine that produces 1,479hp and 1,600nm of torque. It is, as you would expect, properly quick. Bugatti claims it can go from 0 to 100km/h in 2.4 seconds and 0 to 200km/h in just 6.1 seconds. In a test, the Chiron went from 0 to 100km/h in 2.4 seconds; 0 to 200km/h in 6.1 seconds; 0 to 300km/h in 13.1 seconds, and finally, 0 to 400km/h in 32.6 seconds.
The Chiron can easily go faster, but for now, its top speed is electronically limited to 420km/h (261mph) for safety reasons. According to Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace, no street tire has been certified to be able to handle the forces generated by the Chiron at speeds in excess of 280mph (450km/h). As a result, even Bugatti themselves do not know the true top speed of the Chiron.
That said, Michelin is currently working with Bugatti to develop a set of tires that will be strong enough to allow the Chiron to really stretch its legs. The tires are expected to be ready next year,
Top speed, Hennessey says, is a staggering 301mph (485km/h).
after which Bugatti will take the Chiron for an official top speed run.
hENNESSEY VENom F5
Hennessey Performance Engineering is no stranger to speed. Founded in 1991 by John Hennessey, the company made a name for itself tuning and modifying cars.
In 2013, it made headlines when its Venom GT hypercar achieved a top speed of 270.49mph (436km/h) at Kennedy Space Center’s 3.22 mile-long landing strip. This was faster than Bugatti’s Veyron, but because the run was only done in one direction (the Guinness Book of Records requires speed runs to be done in both directions), the Venom GT did not qualify as the world’s fastest production car.
Now, the company has announced the successor to the Venom GT and it’s called the Venom F5. Powering the Venom F5 is a bespoke 7.4-liter twinturbocharged V8 that develops 1,600hp and 1,762nm of torque, which makes the Venom F5 more powerful than the Chiron.
Not only it is more powerful, the Venom F5 is very much lighter too. Weighing just 1,360kg, the Venom F5 compares favorably against the Chiron’s 1,996kg. As a result, the Venom F5 will be significantly quicker too. Hennessey estimates that the Venom F5 will get from 0 to 300km/h in less than 10 seconds - the same time it takes most family sedans to see 100km/h on their speedometers. More amazingly, Hennessey believes the Venom F5 will get from 0 to 400km/h in less than 20 seconds. Top speed, Hennessey says, is a staggering 301mph (485km/h).
The big differentiator, however, is that its tires won’t be a limiting factor for the Venom F5. According to its maker, John, tires are not a problem for the Venom F5 because it is significantly lighter. “Tires are a limiting factor for Bugatti. But I don’t believe they’re a limiting factor for us. When we do our math, we know that we are not overloading them. We’re not even close to the load specification of the tires at our speeds.”
Hennessey plans to take the Venom F5 for speed runs once the first prototypes are completed sometime next year.