Is it possible for a road car to reach a speed of 300 mph? If you talk to Wolfgang Dürheimer who is the outgoing CEO or Bugatti, he’s not sure. Talk of the Chiron making it to this speed was quashed by him with a realistic opinion that in it’s current form, it’s not a possibility, but does Bugatti want to be the first to achieve this? This is a goal, but the CEO remains guarded about their chances of making it happen anytime soon. When you pose the same question to John Hennessey, the founder of the Bugatti competitor Hennessy, you hear a slightly different story. He seems to hold a slightly more optimistic, yet still guarded opinion of the Hennessey Venom F5s shot at reaching this record-breaking speed Unless Bugatti is just playing their cards close to the vest, it looks like Hennessey is the safest bet. Here’s what we know so far.
Enter Hennessey Venom F5
While Bugatti is hopeful, but doesn’t see the light at the end of the Tunnel yet, the tuners at the Texas based Hennessey Performance Engineering are more optimistic if not bold in their claims it’s a possibility. They’re looking at the build of a vehicle that will reach a top speed of a little greater than the target with a predicted 301 mph per computer models, which so far, have been surprisingly accurate in pegging previous target speeds.
Mandatory requirements for success
There are four main areas that are under the microscope. These are: the effect of speed on the tires, drivetrain losses, rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag. In order to achieve the goal, the math has to add up and this means some serous tweaking has to take place to bring the physical elements of the vehicle in line with computer models and the common sense principles that design engineers are so familiar with. So far, the car has hit the mark and is aerodynamically in the ball park. It currently makes zero to 248 mph within 30 seconds, beating Bugatti’s stats. The engineers estimate that the Venom F5 will only require 1,200 horsepower, factoring in the aerodynamic drag. That’s one check off the list.
The next challenge is adding 35 hp as compensation for rolling resistance for an estimated 1,231.9 hp required in total output. Factoring in drivetrain losses,which cold equal 23$, it brings the requirement to around 1,600 hp for the possibility of reaching the goal.
The fourth consideration is the effect on the tires. A specially customized tire that can hold up under the stress and heat generated by 300 mph is new territory and this is one of the figures that is currently not known. Hennessey has to get this one figured out. What they do know is that the tire, in addition to having the durability to survive under 300 mph impacts must be stiff and light.
According to Hennessey, there are still a few unanswered questions about the work left to be done to meet the base requirements for the Venom F5 to successfully reach and sustain its target speed of 300 mph, and these are to ensure that the car has an adequate cooling system in place to handle the impacts of a 300 mph speed. Will Michelin have the ability to manufacture tires that are up to the job? Will the current projected configurations be as accurate as previous computer generated models have been? These are the questions that Hennessey would like to be able to answer right now, but they are yet elusive. They do seem to have a measure of confidence with their bold prediction that they will reach this goal. The numbers seem to be in their favor so far, but theory must be put into practice with all of the necessary elements combining together without an unforeseen glitch that could derail the entire plan and set them back.
There’s no reason to attempt to push John Hennessey for a target date, because he’ll respond by repeating his previous remark, “we’ll get there when we get there.” He realizes that it’s possible for Bugatti to get there first, but it doesn’t seem to be a big concern for him. He seems to have a guarded confidence about hitting the target speed with the Venom F5, while Bugatti is maintaining that the Chiron isn’t even close to being ready. We’re not sure if everyone is placing their cards on the table or if one of them has an ace up his sleeve. Bugatti sees it more as a race, Hennessey sees it more as an achievement. We wish them both success in their endeavors to pull off an amazing first