The Race To 300mph – Bugatti Chiron vs Hennessey Venom F5
Back in the mid to late-80's, a race was on for production cars to reach one of the most important automotive superlatives there's ever been: 200mph. It was a race contested between the Porsche 959, the Ferrari F40, and the Ruf CTR. That race however was 30 years ago, and thanks to the inevitability of progress, the automotive world is beginning to close in on its next big milestone: 300mph.
The forces of nature at work at 300 miles per hour are beyond articulation or comprehension, yet it is the speed we are approaching with cars that can be driven down any public highway. And so far in the pursuit of the triple-tonne, it appears that either one of two cars will reach that speed first: the Bugatti Chiron, or the Hennessey Venom F5.
Currently, the 1479bhp Bugatti Chiron is electronically limited to 261mph. Set free from that leash, Bugatti still don't know how fast it will go – but estimate something in the region of 280-290mph. But, thanks to Chris Harris's review of the car on Top Gear, we have reason to believe that at some point in the Chiron's life, it will have a top speed that starts with the number 3.
That speed will probably be achieved by a Chiron SuperSports – but here's the thing: the reason Bugatti limited the Chiron to 261mph is because that's as fast as the tyres can withstand.
Bugatti have said publicly that at the moment, no tyre exists that can take a 2-tonne car to over 300mph. But – and this is pure speculation – we can safely presume that such a tyre is being developed, not only for a future Chiron SS, but also for the current Chiron so it can make its top speed run.
This problem isn't one that's so troublesome for John Hennessey, because his speed monsters have always been exceptionally light, which means the tyres don't have to be so dizzyingly advanced to reach crazy speeds. The Venom GT was conceived from a Lotus for the sake of lightness, and with his new megacar – the Venom F5 – lightness is also of paramount importance.
Weighing just 2950lbs (1338kg), the Venom F5 is precisely 1448lbs (656kg) lighter than the Chiron. That means that Hennessey can use the same Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres that Bugatti uses well beyond the Chiron's safety limit of 261mph. How far beyond? Well, according to John Hennessey, the Michelin tyres are more than capable of carrying the F5 to over 300mph.
Initially stating that he was aiming for 290mph with his F5 megacar, after unveiling it at Sema, John Hennessey has made it official that he has his sights firmly set on breaking the 300mph barrier. To do this, he's fitted the F5 with a 7.4L Twin-Turbo V8 that sends a simply mind-breaking 1600bhp hurling at the rear wheels. That power can be harnessed via a 7-speed single clutch paddle shift gearbox, or if you wish to hold onto the very last vestige of purity in a car while simultaneously shitting your pants, John will gladly fit the F5 with a stick and 3 pedals.
Instead of utilising a Lotus base like he did with the now defunct Venom GT, John Hennessey has designed the F5 from the ground up to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. By far the biggest hindrance when it comes to achieve such absurd speeds is the friction of the air - a fact which is even more apparent when acknowledging Hennessey's statement that the Venom GT would've required 2500bhp to achieve 300mph.
Bugatti are said to be running the Chiron up to its true top speed in 2018, but you could presume that promise depends on whether the requisite tyre technology has been developed by then or not. The Chiron SuperSport probably won't be a child of our current decade, but when it does arrive, don't expect it to be anything less than phenomenal. Hennessey will be testing the F5 through 2018, and will be attempting 300mph before the first customer cars are scheduled to be delivered in January 2019. Only time will tell whether the Texan Tuner will manage to achieve 300mph before Bugatti line their indomitable sights up on the crown.
It's a battle that all depends on power, aerodynamics (and managing the drag caused by the cooling needs, which will be otherworldly considering the extremely high horsepower that will be required), and tyres.
But now I want to hand it over to you guys and ask you: which car do you see hitting 300mph first? You can vote for it below...
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Written by: Angelo Uccello
Tribe: Speed Machines
Facebook: Speed Machines - DriveTribe
Chiron Photo Credits: Bugatti
F5 Photo Credits: Hennessey