John Hennessey talks about the Venom F5 and taking on BugattiJohn Hennessy spoke to us about the Venom F5 and how it's continuing to take on the biggest names in speed.
[MUSIC] John, you're here for the first time in Geneva, is that right? Yeah, this is our first visit. Why has it taken so long to bring your car here? There've been so many fantastic cars from Hennessey, this is the first one. Yeah, our main business has been tuning, but now that we have our all-new own car, we felt like Geneva was like the The Super Bowl, the World Series of Hypercars down the aisle. You've got Koenigsegg, Bugatti, Pagani. So we felt like it's really neat to have our car here amongst the other great automotive brands. And it is a new car, and that is the big difference. So why the move from taking an established chassis and platform and competely engineering something from the ground up? Could be the fastest. Yeah. I mean the Venom F5, it exists to be the fastest road car that we can build. Hopefully the fastest roadcar in the world. So 1600 horse power eight liter twin turbo V8 super low, coefficient drag at .33. And it weighs under 3,000 pounds. And our target goal is to go over 300 miles per hour. So this is a completely new engine from the ground up. Correct. Eight litre. Eight litre. Twin turbo. Correct. And how quick is it going to go? How? You think you're gonna break that You know, I think 0 to 60, 0 to 100, quarter mile. Those are all traction dependent. So you could have all the power you want but if we can't, so we don't really know in that realm. I'd like to see a low two seconds zero to 60. But with electric cars I think low two seconds zero to 60 is kind of becoming common with electrics. But where this car will really stretch it's legs is when you get above 100 miles per hour. So we're projecting zero to 300K, so 186 miles per hour in less than ten seconds roughly the same Time it takes for the current F1 car to from a standing start to 300K Speed is obviously like the absolute headliner of this car. Sure How much is this car focused on that as it's sole purpose? Well look are clients gonna go out and go 300 miles per hour probably not but it's very important for our clients to have that bragging That's part of the story of the cars. A part of who we are as a company and part of our DNA of our family. At the same time we want our car to be, you know, comfortable and road drivable and something that you could take your wife to dinner in and go to a play or go out on your favorite road and have at it. So, it's very much a real road car, it's not designed as Some sort of a road vessel to go out and run for some big number. It'll go out and run the big number, but it's still something pleasant to drive. You know, when you want something special for a weekend run. With the [UNKNOWN] GT, because it was based off an Elite, we kind of expected a fairly cramped, focused on speed. Sure, and it was. And this will be a roomier More comfortable car, so again I think we check all the right boxes in regards to looks, power, performance, car weight ratio, and then ultimately being a fun thrilling car to drive. It's so easy to drive when you're just cruising around town So You're saying that the speed and the emphasis on speed has not led to compromise in an area where cars actually are gonna get used every day? No, no, if there's any compromise, the compromise would come, I mean, the car has to achieve the numbers. And that's basically what you see as the design. The only element in the car that had But I said, hey, look, I would like a certain, I would like the headlight to be distinctive. The design team, everything else that you wanted to do from a design standpoint, as long as it has the least amount of drag, kept under 3,000 pounds, it has the best chance to break the 300 Miles per hour. That's what it needs to look like. So the design, apart from some touches that you mentioned like the headlights, the design is completely focused on aero and achieving that speed. Right. So this is a design that has been sculpted by the necessity of speed. Right. The form follows the design. The desired performance of the car. Can you talk me through some of the aero that's on the car? Anything that's significant. Sure. Yeah, I mean, I think one interesting thing about the car is that the, from the splitter in the front and the nose to the diffuser in the rear, it has one seemless solid body panel. And that's an important part of moving. The air flowing underneath the car is almost as important as what's flowing over the top, so another piece, the diffuser. The rear wing is dynamic, so it can go up and down depending on the The driving conditions that the driver's in. The suspension is ride height adjustable depending on what you're doing with the car. If you're gonna go out and go high speed, it will lower down. So that drag coefficient can be adjusted based on the necessity, yeah. Correct, correct. If you put the wing up and you're in full ride height, it's not gonna be fully capable. It will have on the steering wheel a special V-Max mode. That you can dial in for that specific use, and it lowers [UNKNOWN] lowers the rear wing, sets the suspension to traction control to a certain spec, and off you go. This isn't focused on track lap times, it's not a down- No, this is not a down force car, it's not designed to go to the [UNKNOWN] with 620, but I do think, we do plan to test at the [UNKNOWN] And I do believe the car is capable of running something under seven minutes, so it'll still be a proper handling car, a proper road course car, but it's not like a [UNKNOWN] GTR or something like that's designed for lots of down force. Here at Geneva, unlike maybe SEMA where it's very much about the traditional side of See this, you said it yourself, you're in quite close proximity to those rivals. How do you think they're going to react to this bold statement, breaking towards 300 miles per hour from a much smaller manufacture without a mass of a VW behind them to fund it. I don't know, I would hope that they would take us seriously. We've We've gone out and done a few things before. We've said we would do it, and we did. So, that being said, I think that the serious players, they play their own game. They'll go do what they need to do to promote and develop their own cars, and if it's that something that their clients are interested in, they may be competing for the same thing. I think a lot of guys, Christian I think, plays it closely the best. And doesn't really say what he's gonna do. And in some ways, I think that's a smart way of going, but we're very open, and transparent. We're very open about what our intentions are, and what we're going to do. Do you talk often with Christian? Yeah- Do you have a conversation going? We had a real nice conversation. We were just, I was walking with my wife, just a couple of days ago, we were checking out the show. We ran into Christian, at Haldora, had a nice chat. He introduced us to To the [INAUDIBLE]. Look, we're competitive. We all wanna win, and have our special place within the automotive world, but at the end of the day, we're still car guys. We share a lot of things in common, and we Have a lot of respect for what those guys do, as well as the Bugatti and other brands that are here. Mm-hm. When you're trading on speed like this and kinda trading blows with these huge manufacturers, how much does speed become the biggest selling point of what you're doing? And how much have you attached speed to the Hennessey name as its kind of biggest selling point Points. Well it's what we're known for. You know it takes more than just speed to sell cars, though, in this realm. I believe that we probably have more clients that have bought our car based on the elegant, powerful design Probably say okay but only goes to 50 I still want the car but it's important is important we support our family is important to a lot of our clients so will I think that the look of the car is one of the biggest selling points and I think being able to have a really cool story back it up And having a small kind of, you know we're kind of the David going out and fighting the Goliaths and the Ugadis and others. I think that makes it interesting for all of us. So timeline wise we saw it first at SEMA. We're getting a few more details here. Sure. We're expecting to hear a bit more at Pebble this year. Yeah. We'll have a full presentation of our power train. So we'll show that at Pebble. We will begin testing our first prototype later this year. And then we will begin delivering cars to clients later in 2019. Somewhere in 2019, we'll begin some high speed testing and see where that goes. So that's when we can expect to see it actuallly out, moving, around that time? Correct. So the drivetrain is still in the development. It's still being processed. Right. So you, yourself probably don't know the full extent of what it might be able to achieve. Well we know that it's already acheived over 1,600 horsepower. And we believe more is there. We don't feel that we have a need to go any further with the powertrain. But that option always exists if we need to.>> With that kinda power going to the wheels and the gear box have anything special been done to those they can- Sure well the car will have a very sophisticated traction control system that actually functions off of GPS so The computer in the car will know the speed of the car, you know, what the wheel speed's doing. And basically the traction control system in the car will be functional up to probably 140 miles an hour. If you, if the customer had the ability to completely turn it off The car could spin the tires at 140 The Venom GT did that. So that's not the top speed was only really able to achieved in the Venom GT by someone who really knew what they were doing? Well, no, the traction control kept the car, it kept that. Basically, the F5 will not exceed full power to probably north of 140 miles per hour. Just can't put it to the ground. Has all of this come from the Venom GT or has it all been developed from the ground up? We've taken everything that we've learned from the Venom GT. Whether it's cooling. The Venom GT could drive in DuBai in the summertime. You know with a 1244 horsepower motor, and have cold air conditions not [UNKNOWN]. We wanted to take all the goodness of the Venom GT and still carry it over to the F5. And so cooling, and thermal dynamics and things of that nature were an important part of the new car. But that being said, the performance that We knew what the Venom GT was capable of in terms of its performance. And we've used that as a baseline for the F5. So does this mark a change for Hennesey in that the future might hold more cars developed from the ground up, rather than, maybe in addition to a modification [UNKNOWN] actually building more cars under the Hennesey name. It's a great question. So, our tuning business Hennessey Performance again has been around 27 years. When we began the process of developing and building the F5, we set up a new company. So Hennessey Special Vehicles and its mission is to design and develop and build cars. F5 is our first car, we do plan additional cars beyond the F5. And I had dinner with [UNKNOWN] McClarin Mike [UNKNOWN] and his wife last night, and I would say that one of our goals, if we could become like the American version of the McClarin, it would be kind of a cool thing. So that's That's where we're looking to go. We're just being our, the equivalent of the F1. Yes, well if it can hold up to that, that certantly broke a lot of records in terms of speed in 2013, and people still remember that car. So maybe 2015- So that's kind of our Our benchmark would be- [CROSSTALK] That's a fairly, that's a lofty goal- [CROSSTALK] Benchmark, if you are going to aim high you might as well go for the highest. You know, that makes perfect sense. Thank you very much [UNKNOWN] for your time. Sure. Can't wait to see this thing in action. All right will have to get you behind the wheel sometime. [LAUGH]. You better believe it'll be after that. [MUSIC]