Article by Anthony Alaniz. Photography by Corey Davis and Nathan Leach-Proffer
We had a rare opportunity to do what many others have not—we were able to shoot the brutal Hennessey Venom GT as it sat in the factory where it was built.
While on location at the Hennessey Performance Engineering facility in Sealy, TX, for the event known as TX2K, the weather simply wouldn’t cooperate, so we were forced to pack up and entertain ourselves elsewhere. With our britches drenched, the #TeamRevv gear stashed in the transport and our sights set on the streets of Houston, Revvolution president Ryan Randels decided we had nothing else to lose and struck up a quick conversation with TX2K organizer, Peter Blach. Within a few moments, Peter worked his power of persuasion and convinced John Hennessey, the owner of the American tuning powerhouse, to grant us a brief thirty minutes with his latest creation.
Hennessey Performance Engineering has been taking some of the world’s fastest cars and turning them into performance icons. Dodge Vipers, Chevrolet Corvettes and Ford GTs have been just a few of the cars that have been blessed by Hennessey’s touch. Those were just practice—the opening act for the company. For the headlining act, Hennessey has culminated its more than twenty years of performance knowledge to create an insane machine—a vehicle that proudly bites on the heels of the legendary Bugatti Veyron.
Few cars elicit such visceral retort than the Hennessey Venom GT, mostly of which is online bickering by faceless Internet commenters passionately debating the merits of things they only assume to know. It’s a car that toys with human emotion in such a way that it borders on abuse because it is a car that feverishly attempts to defy the laws of physics in so many ways. The Venom GT is a car best understood by numbers—and even then it is difficult, at times, to wrap one’s head around them. For some, it maybe difficult to forgo personal preclusions about the company, and John Hennessey himself, but it is difficult to contest that what he builds is enticing to the speed-demon enthusiast in us all.
Based on a Lotus Elise/Exige, and utilizing components like the roof, doors, side glass, dash, floor pan and other mundane parts, the similarities between the Lotus and Venom GT stop there. The Venom GT has gone through some intensive reconstructive surgery. The car has been lowered—though that is adjustable in a range of 2.4 inches, widened by 12 inches for grip and stretched by 18 inches to shoehorn the twin-turbocharged motor behind the cockpit. It’s a car that has been more than warmed over by Hennessey’s insane engineers—as if it’s mocking the plebian cars around it.
The Venom GT is made of a carbon fiber and composite aluminum, hybrid monocoque space frame, helping the car achieve a curb weight of 2,743 pounds. The wheels from Hennessey are also lightweight and made of carbon fiber because, why not, right? The lightweight car stops thanks to 15-inch carbon-ceramic rotors and 6-piston Brembo fixed calipers.
That powerplant behind the driver is a 7.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine with a compression ratio of 9.2:1 and a redline of 7,200 rpm. Horsepower is rated at insane with torque somewhere in the range of maddening, or 1244 and 1155 respectively. Even then, the horsepower is adjustable from within the cockpit to 800, 1000 or 1244 ponies.
All that power is routed through a Ricardo 6-speed manual transmission and supplied to the rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport 345/30ZR20 wheels. Top speed is estimated at 278 mph and has a verified speed of 270.49 mph. The Venom GT performed a standing half-mile at 206 mph and a standing mile at 253 mph, according to Hennessy. Zero to 60 mph comes in at 2.7 seconds, while a zero to 100 mph is achieved in a heart stopping 5.6 seconds. The Venom GT holds the Guinness World Record for going from 0 to 300 kph in 13.63 seconds, and the Hypercar World Record for going from 0 to 200 mph in 14.51 seconds.
Oh, and for those who are brave enough to take this beast to the drag strip, it achieves a quarter mile in 9.92 seconds at 163 mph—buckle up. Now, those are a lot of numbers and speeds to look at and decipher, but if you take anything away from all that, it has to be that this car is simply blisteringly fast.
The Venom GT is the type of car that tries to lovingly kill you. With a price tag starting at a cool $600,000 for the 750 horsepower "slow” Venom GT, you quickly realize you can only re-mortgage your house so many times. Also, with 18.5 gallons of fuel on board, you can bet you will be making many stops at gas stations to top ‘er off.
Of course, what car today wouldn’t be complete without an options list? At a certain price point, it is just customer to check off all the boxes on the option list—whale penis leather seats, check; gold embroidered mud guards, oh yes please.
Granted, the Venom GT does have an options list more in tune with what their customers want. Optional GT upgrades include Michelin Pilot Sport Cup ZP tires, bare carbon fiber finish, right-hand drive for all of you across the pond, Stefano Ricci Bespoke interior, and a stereo system designed by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith—because that’s a thing now.
When you look at the Hennessy Venom GT, it is hard not to notice what a machine it actually is. It is the embodiment of a boyhood’s dream car oft sketched on computer paper or napkin at a family dinner and left forgotten in a toy chest. The Venom GT is a car we all want, a car that toys with the emotions of what a car can do when there are no limits and a bottomless wallet for research and development.