July 31, 2018

Hennessey Venom F5 Shoots for 300 MPH

Texas tuning shop Hennessey Performance has made a name for itself by taking production cars and making them absolutely bonkers. For example, the VelociRaptor 6x6, which is a Ford Raptor with three axles and power to all six wheels.

One of the most ambitious projects it’s taken on lately is a homebrewed concoction known as the Venom F5. It builds off the Venom GT, which when it was revealed was the only production car that was faster than the Bugatti Veyron. Based on the Lotus Exige, the shop dropped the Venom twin turbo engine in the rear, unleashing a monster.

But that’s not enough. The Venom F5 kicks things up a few notches. Hennessey claims the vehicle will hit 300 mph, which would be a first for a production car. It was named after the F5 tornado, which hits rotational speeds between 260 and 318 mph. Can the car live up to these lofty expectations?

Changes, Changes

Hennessey didn’t base the Venom F5 off the Venom GT, even though the name suggests it did. Everything about the car was developed in-house, including the chassis and carbon fiber body panels. That takes time, which is why the company has been talking up this hypercar for so long. This also means the Venom F5 has been purpose-built from the ground up for one thing: to break the production car top speed record.

Instead of using the same engine as the Venom GT, the F5 will feature a Hennessey-built twin-turbo 8.-liter V-8 engine designed and engineered just for this car. It’s supposed to whip out a monstrous 1,600 brake horsepower and 1,300 lb.-ft. of torque, which these days isn’t excessive for a boutique hypercar.

Consider that the curb weight is a mere 2,950 pounds. To get there, Hennessey threw in a bunch of carbon fiber for the body and chassis both. It also reduced rotating mass by using carbon ceramic Brembo brakes.

Yes, low curb weight and tons of power is a good combination for quick acceleration. It’s also a great way to become airborne at higher speeds. You might notice the aggressive scoops, foils, and large rear wing on the Venom F5. All that active aero is supposed to keep this thing from leaving the ground behind. At the same time, the coefficient of drag is just 0.33.

The massive engine power channels to the rear wheels almost directly below, routing first through a seven-speed, single-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. If you really love rowing through the gears, a six-speed manual is available as an option.

According to Hennessey, this setup produces impressive results. The car accelerates from 0 to 186 mph in under 10 seconds. That’s almost unreal, and it would smoke the current crop of Formula One cars in a flat-out race. What’s more, in under 30 second, Hennessey claims the Venom F5 can go 0 to 249 mph and back to 0 mph.

The Right Rubber

Funny enough, one of the biggest problems with developing the Venom F5 has been sourcing tires that can handle what the car kicks out. Not only do they need to endure all that power, the faster the hypercar travels, the more problematic maintaining the correct air pressure becomes.

Hennessey has chosen the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which were originally designed for the Bugatti Chiron. Koenigsegg used the same tires successfully on the Agera RS when that hypercar pushed past the 280 mph mark in Nevada last year.

The secret of the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires is they don’t have steel belts. Instead, aramid fibers provide improved structural strength and heat resistance. The tire will need all the structural integrity possible, considering at such high speeds even a 1 mph increase produces an immense load on the rubber.

It gets even more challenging. As seen with these other superfast hypercars, the front tires actually cool down at 200 mph and above. Cooling tires lose air pressure, providing another challenge. How exactly Hennessey will address that challenge remains a mystery.

Proving It

The big question everyone has is if the Venom F5 can really hit 300 mph. Hennessey’s been talking that up since revealing this car, but there’s no proof of it, yet.

With Hennessey, you need to remember this is a shop that has a track record of results. When the Venom GT hit 270.49 mph back in early 2014, the automotive world was shocked. The year before, the company took a Ford GT and modified it, setting a Texas Mile world record of 267.6 mph. In other words, if anyone can break the 300 mph barrier, it would be Hennessey.

Consider this for a moment: with 1,600 horsepower on tap and a curb weight of 2,950 pounds, there are 1,196 horsepower per ton. That’s extreme, and with up to 23 percent in drivetrain losses, that should be ample for hitting 300 mph. Hennessey stuck with a simple layout for the car, making 23 percent in drivetrain losses a rather liberal number, so it’s likely the Venom F5 will go beyond the targeted top speed

Owning It

You’ll have to cash in your 401K a little early to afford the Hennessey Venom F5. It’s priced at a cool $1.6 million. That means this hypercar is definitely a toy for the one percent, while the rest of us get to just admire it from a distance.

Hennessey will only make 25 units. In other words, seeing one will be like hunting down a unicorn. Most owners wouldn’t even dare test out the top speed, but having a hypercar with such capabilities is something to brag about.

Discuss the Hennessey Venom F5 and other Automotive Industry Trends in our new GrabCAD Groups forum. 

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