John Hennessey just wants to go fasterFor some men speed is important but few take it as serious as John Hennessey. XCAR soke to the man who took on the Veyron and claimed the speed record for America.
[MUSIC] We live in a pretty incredible time, and there are so many neat cars that come from the factories. Whether it's in Detroit, or out of Europe or Japan. And many of these cars interest me personally from the standpoint that, you know, if the new Corvette comes out with 460 horsepower, then 650 of 700 horsepower would even be better. Almost all of our clients come to us for horsepower. That's, they want their car to go faster, they want to have a better sound, they want to have a more exciting vehicle to drive, and. I know there's a lot of shops out there that do other things but all about the power and performance, that's something that, that inspires me and gets me excited and and that's the same thing with our clients. [MUSIC] At any given time we have about 60 cars in our shop. I'd say. A third are Ford products, a third are GM, Chevrolet Cadillac products, and a third are just a smattering of everything else. And then the Venom is something that's completely different than, than the ten cars a week that we modify. [MUSIC] The story on the Venom is back in 2007 Road & Track magazine did a, a cover story. Called Speed Kings and it was a shoot out to see which super car could go from zero to 200 miles per hour in the shortest amount of time. Anyway so there were a variety of cars. There was also a Duccatti Vera on there 16.4 not the super sport and at the end and we brought a twin turbo Viper. A Venom 1000 Viper. At the end of the event we were about 4 seconds faster at 200 miles per hour. And we beat the Veyron in that particular competition, and afterwards we thought hey this is great but I thought what's next, what can we do to go faster, and I thought just adding horsepower isn't always, always the answer, what can we do to build a lighter car. So, we joked about what if we took like a Lotus Elise, or Exige. Took out the little four cylinder engine out of the back, and put that thousand plus horsepower twin turbo viper engine in it, the v 10. I pass the joke along to an artist, I said look, why don't you sketch me up something, I want to see what that looks like, he gave me the sketches and I'm like, wow, I think, I think we can build that car, that's really cool. So, not really having any game plan on how to market or how to tell people about it. We I was at the SEMA show and I had some prints of the, of the rendering and the guy at Jalopnik came up and stuck the camera in my face and says hey, can I see what is new? And I pulled out my rendering and showed them to him and they went on the internet a few days later and so this is like 7 years ago. And two weeks later some guy from the Middle East calls me up and says, Hey, I want to order a car. By the time we, a couple years later we delivered the car, he paid us a million for the car, but it cost us over three to develop it. So we, so we got into a situation where I'm like, you know, now we're fully committed, we have to sell more cars and so again, there was no real business plan in this, there was no marketing plans to it, there was just kind of a crazy idea that. It turned into a reality. Once the car became a reality then, I'm like, you know, I want this car to be the fastest not just talk about being the fastest. I want to have maximum horsepower, minimum weight. So the Venom has 1244 horsepower. It weighs 1244 kilos so it's a little over 2700 pounds and. We recently set the world's fastest record for a road legal vehicle at 270.4 miles per hour. The idea all along was not just to build a cool car, a powerful car, but, but to, but to show that the benefits of fastest. [NOISE] [NOISE]. [MUSIC] From 0 to 60 in less than under 3 seconds. but the car really shines at sixty to two hundred plus because it just gets there so incredibly quick. You definitely have a power to traction limitation ratio so Veyron super sport is going to be the Venom the Sixty and it would probably close to one hundred miles per hour but. There's just no competition from the standpoint, that the Venom, the Venom has traction control. So the traction control does not stop working at full power until about 140 miles per hour. And if you watch our 270 run, you can hear the, the car, you can hear the, the traction control just fighting to keep, to keep the tires hooked up. And right when you pull into fourth gear, and head into fourth gear. You've got enough down force, on the back of the tire to where you don't have any more track control. At that point you have full power. The Venom at 140 miles per hour is pulling 1.4 gs of acceleration. The Veyron Super Sport from a standing start with all-wheel drive. Pulls 1.1 g of acceleration at 5 miles an hour and 140, we're pulling 1.4 g's. [MUSIC] [LAUGH] The guys at Bugatti I mean they've got the resources where I'm sure they'll come out with a car that's just as fast or faster at some point. So it's a, it's a good thing, we I had a really nice chat with. Wolfgang Durheimer yesterday at the [UNKNOWN] and the chairman and president of Bugatti and I guess we're kind of friendly competitors but we're kind of kindred spirits. I told him, Wolfgang, we were only able to do what we did because you had set the bar so high. It's kind of fun for us to be a little bit ahead of them and know that they're probably going to come back and raise the bar higher. So for the bar to go higher and the cars to go faster you have to have the competitive rivalry. The guys at McLarens and Porsche, they've built some incredible cars. The P1. The 908. La Ferrari. But those manufacturers have said, top speed doesn't matter to us. And that's okay. You know, they build great cars, you know? But for our brand and for the Bugatti guys there's something special about being able to say you're the fastest. So we'll take it as long as we can as we can hold that thought. [MUSIC]