If you reside long enough in New Jersey, two things will happen: You’ll eventually drive like a maniac and, invariably, you’ll live the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song. When I “borrowed” my father’s Audi A6 Allroad 2.7T Quattro Wagon to take it “down the Shore” for the first time, in high school, I was too young to know either of those things. I just knew I felt invincible. Plus, I wanted to look like a badass and go fast. Really, really fast.
Too bad I chose what amounted to a luxury station wagon for dropping the kids off at school or going grocery shopping in style. But I knew this innocuous-looking sedan harbored a dangerous secret: that if you applied a leaden foot to the gas, its 250-horsepower, twin-turbo 2.7L V6 engine could make this chimera breathe fire—and burn rubber just like a sports car. I hit 120 mph going down the Garden State Parkway without getting thrown in jail (that would happen later). But it was already too late. I was addicted to going fast.
Speeding in a car—like coffee, sex and the unmentionables we crave so much online—is a drug. While the others generally make us feel good because of a secretion of dopamine, speeding is all adrenaline. When we speed, even in a station wagon, our brain signals to our adrenal glands to start secreting adrenaline, which increases our heartbeat, blood glucose and muscle strength to get our bodies ready for a “fight or flight” response.
But, alas, we’re adults now. We’re mindful of the speed limit and “stay in our lane,” as the high-schoolers of today say. Every now and again, though, I’ll catch my foot getting heavier on the gas pedal and feel that old-time thrill come upon me again. I call it “the itch.” And I’ve been getting it a lot recently, particularly reading about this brand new, all-American sports car.
Hennessey Performance has seemingly been founded on that very same itch; the need to break the rules and go fast that all of us adrenaline junkies know all too well. John Hennessey of Hennessey Performance has potentially caught lightning in a bottle with his Venom F5, an all-new hypercar designed from the ground up, with only one goal in mind: to be the absolute fastest production vehicle on Earth.
And, yes, he has his fair share of skeptics. For one, no street legal car has broken the 300-mph barrier, which is exactly what Hennessey has his sights set on with this hypercar. (I can tell you, I’ve felt speeds of more than 150 mph at the Monticello Motor Club in a Lotus 2-Eleven. That felt fast. This would leave it in the dust.) The F5—named after the strongest tornado winds on the Fujita Scale; fairly appropriate I’d say—is poised to succeed Hennessey’s Venom GT, a Lotus Elise-based predecessor, which holds an unofficial speed record of 270 mph.
But in this rarefied field, gaining additional mph isn’t easy. That’s why it’ll need all the help it can get from a twin-turbo V8 engine that has been said to put out more than 1,600 bhp through a 7-speed paddle shift transmission, with a drag coefficient listed as 0.33, a significant departure from the Venom GT’s 0.44. And, lest I forget: a newly designed chassis and carbon fiber body give it a curb weight of 2,950 lbs.
Which is all to say this: The F5 is said to be able to reach 186 mph in less than 10 seconds, which is faster than a modern-day Formula 1 car. Its top speed is expected to go beyond 300 mph (!), which would be a first for a production vehicle. Ever.
True, unadulterated, adrenaline-inducing, heart-in-your-stomach speed is hard to come by these days, even for an automotive journalist. But every time I look at this hypercar, my heart flutters, my palms get a little sweaty and I start thinking about every speed limit I’ve ever broken. What my younger self wouldn’t give to take this puppy for a spin down the Jersey Shore or up the Northway to Lake Placid—riding through mansions of glory in a stunning, intoxicating suicide machine.