High-speed record: The fastest cars in the world

482.8 km / h: For normal mortal car drivers, this mark seems to be extremely far away. If one believes the US manufacturers SSC and Hennessey , the breakthrough of this sound barrier is imminent. Koenigsegg is also involved in the record hunt.


For us in the metric system arrested Europeans, the target is difficult to reach: 300 miles per hour (mph), that does not sound like much. But it is, if one converts the whole in kilometers per hour: 482.8 km / h – that has not made a production car. Koenigsegg has been the world’s fastest street-legal car for almost a year . 457.2 km / h and 277.9 mph managed the 1.176-hp Agera RS on November 4, 2017 on a closed highway in the US state of Nevada– at the official record. In the absolute top he drove even 457.9 km / h fast. Apparently a disgrace to two American high-speed fetishists who are so keen on top-speed records that they really want to see them win by a US company.

300 mph are just the base

One of these 300-mph hunters is Hennessey . Company President John Hennessey has chosen his new Venom F5 to bring the crown back to Texas. Earlier versions of Venom drove faster than any other. It is clear that the project requires sheer engine power. In the case of the Venom F5 this is to ensure a 7.6-liter twin-turbo V8. The 1,622-PS power plant is no longer in a Lotus chassis, as they used older Venom generations, but in a self-construction. In addition, the F5 has become streamlined, after all, John Hennessey aspires to higher: “300 miles per hour are just like the baseline. The goal is to drive as fast as we can, “the Texan told British colleagues.Top Gear “.

Jarod Shelby, the head of SSC North America , is striving for the same. He considers his company, formerly known as Shelby Supercars, to be best equipped for this project. Not only because the engine of the record-breaking Tuatara, a 5.9-liter twin-turbo V8, is stronger than the Hennessey Venom F5. The aggregate makes 1,774 hp, at least when fed with E85 ethanol fuel. The Hypercar should also be slightly lighter (1.247 instead of just under 1.400 kilograms) and aerodynamically more efficient (cW value of 0.28 instead of under 0.4) as the Texan competitor.

Hennessey wants to tickle over 2,000 horsepower

In addition, SSC could be a little earlier than Hennessey . In May 2019, the first cars areready, then it could come to the prestigious attack on the 300-mph mark. Hennesseysees itself towards the end of next year, ready for the project. However, the Texans want to turn once again vigorously on the power screw. According to John Hennessey , his engine was already under test with more than 2,028 hp. “We will not deliver this line to the customers. But we will get as much out of the engine as we need to reach 300mph, “he says in the Top Gear interview.

Of course you have to meet the full-bodied announcements of the Americans with a healthy skepticism. Nevertheless, they seem to work much more consistently towards this goal than the Europeans. Which hardly surprised. Koenigsegg, for example, may be interested in high-speed driving on the other side of the Atlantic, but with the necessary serenity. The Swedes hold the current record, the others are under pressure. But as soon as Hennessey or SSC go near the 300-mph mark, Koenigseggwants to stand by . Founder Christian von Koenigseggconsiders the Agera RS already able to do that. “We can reach 300 mph, all we need is higher revs and a longer gearbox,” he told The Drive magazine. However, he fears the uncontrollable aspects of such a project, things like wind, animals, bumps. “It’s possible, but not our primary goal.”

Temperature stress for the tires

Another limiting factor is the tires . Michelin seems to be the only manufacturer to be able to bake the right rubber for such speed records. But the French are also concerned about the 300mph mark. Everything depends on how long a car takes to reach that speed: “If the car reaches 270 miles an hour quickly, but takes another five to 300, then it will not work,” says Michelin Product Manager Eric Schmedding in conversation with “The Drive”. The problem: the longer a tirerotates at this speed, the h#tter he gets. This means extreme stress for the tire – with unpredictable consequences.

However, John Hennessey believes he has a grip on the tire issue. His car is light enough and windy enough. In general, he considers aerodynamics to be the most important thing in the 300 mph venture. Others like former Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer consider the engine power to be decisive. “To reach 450 km / h, you have to have at least 1,500 horsepower, otherwise you will not succeed,” he was once quoted.

Bugatti keeps out

The Bugatti Chiron has 1,500 horsepower, so in theory it should be capable of this speed. The luxury manufacturer from the VW corporate universe used to participate actively in all sorts of record hunts. The Veyron Super Sport held at 268 mph (431 km / h) for a time the scepter of the worldwide speed king, until he was replaced by the Hennessey Venom GT. Just a year ago, ex-Formula 1 driver Juan-Pablo Montoya drove the Chiron from zero to 400 km / h in just 42 seconds and back to a standstill – a record that now also went to the Koenigsegg Agera RS (36.44 seconds) holds. But instead of being spurred on by the loss of records, Bugatti sees himselfThe Tempobolzerei of the Americans and Swedes rather from afar. An attack on the top speed crown is currently not on the agenda. Dürheimer’s successor, the current Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann, currently sets other priorities. An obvious interpretation, however, is that the Bugatti people do not think Chiron, in its current form, to be fast enough to back up to the top of the leaderboards. So let it be whole. The officially stated, electronically regulated 261 mph (420 km / h) seems to be enough for the Bugatti clientele – the car is sold out.

So Hennessey and SSC currently romping alone, Koenigsegg contented for the time being with the observer role. Whether the demonstratively displayed optimism of the Americans must actually worry the Swedes and Bugatti yet again enters the race for the top speed record, will show in the future. Exciting is the hunt for the 300-mile-per-hour target in any case – even for the followers of the metric system.