Hennessey Venom F5: The Power Of The Underdog
by Martin Green
There is something about the underdog.
Just being in that position seems to stimulate the brain and the senses, allowing dark horses to achieve the unimaginable. Consumers often have a soft spot for them, and rightfully so as they enrich the marketplace with their unique offers.
Part of the underdog’s charm is also how it goes after the big dog, and nobody does that better than Hennessey.
Founded in 1991 by John Hennessey, the company has made a name for itself by extracting huge amounts of horsepower (chiefly) out of American sports cars and SUVs while keeping them drivable and dependable.
The combination of having huge power on tap in a very drivable car immediately reveals the secret of the Texas-based company as power, delivery, and dependability are quite a unique combination of qualities often at odds with each other.
Aiming for the stars
Transforming Mustangs and Cameros into ferocious Ferrari hunters has been the bread and butter of Hennessey for quite some time now, and in the U.S. it has gained quite a following.
In fact, when Road & Track first put together a list of the world’s fastest supercars in 2007 to see which one would hit 0-200 mph first, the publication also invited Hennessey.
The test was conducted with the Venom 1000, which was based on the Dodge Viper. It went head to head against the Lamborghini Murcielago, the RUF Porsche 911 Twin Turbo, the Mercedes McLaren SLR, and, of course, the Bugatti Veyron.
The result was staggering as the Venom 1000 hit 200 mph in 20.3 seconds, while it took the test’s number two, the Bugatti Veyron, a full four seconds longer!
This result made quite an impact, not least on John Hennessey himself. He was already thinking of the next step, but because his company is in the business of creating high-performance street cars, not race cars, the Viper base soon proved to be too rigid to improve further upon.
Hennessey wanted something lighter and joked about fitting the engine of the Venom 1000 with its twin turbos into a Lotus Exige – though this ended up making more sense then he initially thought. And the Venom GT was born!
Looking like a Lotus on steroids, the result was a street car that was as fast as a bat out of hell . . . with its back end on fire!
It went after the Veyron with a vengeance and even made the Venom 1000 look like a slouch as it could do 0-200 mph in an astonishing 14.51 seconds. While that might even be hard to keep up with for a Bugatti, the Venom GT also beat the Veyron at top speed, having proven that it can reach a staggering 270.49 mph.
Because Hennessey is much smaller than Bugatti, which has the power of the entire Volkswagen conglomerate behind it, exclusivity is ensured. The Venom F5 also caught the eye of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, who took delivery of the very first Hennessey Venom GT Spyder, which he drove regularly before selling for a charitable cause.
No time for resting on your laurels
Just like the watch world, there is no time to rest on your laurels in the car world: Bugatti upped its game with the Chiron, so Hennessey answered with the Venom F5.
Launched at the 2017 SEMA, the Venom F5 is technically the very first full Hennessey car as it features a lightweight chassis and carbon fiber body – and is not based on the Lotus Exige (or any other car for that matter).
The car got its name from the highest rating on the Fujita scale, which is used to measure tornado wind strength. Hennessey’s aim was not only to create a good-looking, drivable, and dependable hypercar, but also the first car to reach a top speed of 300 mph.
Hennessey has yet to establish whether the Venom F5 can achieve this, mainly due to the fact that there are currently no tires available to safely handle this speed.
With a curb weight of only 2,950 pounds, this car is a staggering 1,400 pounds lighter than the Bugatti Chiron. The 7.4-liter aluminum twin-turbo V8 brings 1,600 horsepower and 1,300 pound-feet of torque to the pavement. Combine this with a drag coefficient of 0.33 and you know that you have a car that can pretty much outperform anything.
Looking good while doing the business
While the design of the Venom GT was heavily influenced by the car it was based on, the Lotus Exige, the Venom F5 started with a clean slate. If you squint your eyes a bit, you might see a faint familiarity with Ferrari in the front, but in general the lines of the car are very clean, distinct, and surprisingly timeless.
Timelessness was also one of Hennessey’s requirements as he wanted the car to still look good 15 years from now.
Its design also makes it look far more mature. While the Venom GT was a great performer, it still looked like the very capable, yet not overly exclusive British sports car it was based on.
The Venom F5 sheds this and can now also compete in looks on even ground with other hypercars. That is probably the only matter in which it fights on even ground as when it goes through the seven-speed single-clutch automatic transmission, most of the other hypercars will surprisingly fade away in the rear view mirror.
Which watch brand will pick up the Hennessey glove?
All the Venom F5 is now missing – next to tires that can actually hold up at its top speed – is a watch to match. Bugatti has Parmigiani, but who is picking up the glove for Hennessey?
A car like the Venom F5 simply screams for a suitable watch to go with it, which should preferably be made in the U.S. Perhaps it’s time for RGM to get into the game of high-performance concept wristwatches?
For more information, please visit www.hennesseyperformance.com/vehicles/hennessey/venom-f5.
Quick Facts Hennessey Venom F5
Engine: 7.4-liter twin-turbo V8
Power: 1,600 bhp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 1,300 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 7-speed automatic or 6-speed manual
Acceleration: 0-300 km/h in 10 seconds (to be proven)
Top speed: 484 km/h (to be proven)
Limitation: 24 cars
Base price: $1.6 million