There are all sorts of contests in the world, but few are as hotly contested as who makes the world's fastest car. In the late 1980s and early 90s, it hovered around 200 miles per hour: the Porsche 959 was clocked in 1986 at 195 mph, the Ferrari F40 beat that the next year at 203 mph, followed by the Bugatti EB110 at 209 mph, the Jaguar XJ220 at 213, and finally the McLaren F1 at 240 in 1993. The record stood until Bugatti moved it up to 254 mph in 2005, which was broken by American startup Shelby SuperCars with the Ultimate Aero TT at 256 mph, before Bugatti took it back again at 268 mph with the Veyron Super Sport. Koenigsegg thinks it can break that speed with its new Agera One:1, but until that can be properly tested and verified, the new king of the hill is the Hennessey Venom GT.
Built by Texas-based tuner Hennessey Performance Engineering, the Venom GT is a highly modified Lotus Exige with a 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8 driving 1,244 horsepower to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox made by Ricardo — the same outfit that makes the transmissions for Bugatti and McLaren. The Hennessey Venom GT had previously set a top speed of over 265 mph on the runway of a US Navy air base in California, but recently eclipsed even that speed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it was clocked at 270 mph.
Because it's registered as a modified Lotus with only a handful made and not as a series production car, it's not eligible for the Guinness-certified world record. Nor did it make the requisite pass in the second direction, the average from which is calculated the official world record. The Venom GT is, however, certified by Guinness as the quickest car to reach 300 km/h or 186 mph, hitting the speed in 13.63 seconds. Technicalities aside, when push comes to shove, it's still faster than anything Bugatti, SSC, McLaren, or anyone else has thrown out. So to celebrate its unofficial record, Hennessey has released the "World's Fastest Edition" you see here.
"The Venom GT is America's supercar and it broke 270 mph on the same runway where the Space Shuttle landed at the Kennedy Space Center," says company founder John Hennessey. "We wanted to offer a special paint scheme that would incorporate the colors of the American flag — the same flag we flew on the Space Shuttle runway. Thus, our special livery package includes a body in white with red and blue stripes."
The commemorative edition Venom GT is distinguished mostly by its white paint job with red and blue stripes running up the nose, across the roof (including its protruding air scoop), down the tail and across the adaptive rear spoiler — giving it a rather patriotic appearance to represent America in the race for the world's fastest car. The supercar remains mechanically unchanged from the others Hennessey has produced to date, but then with over 1,200 hp on tap, we're not sure any modifications were called for.
Of course the cost of owning the world's fastest car is high: in this case, $1.25 million. That's still a fair bit less than what Bugatti charges for a Veyron these days. But even if that sum sounds reasonable to you, you can't get your hands on this special edition, because only three will be made, and they've all been spoken for. Contact Hennessey, though, and we're sure they'd build you one with whatever colored stripes you want — for a price, of course.