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Hennessey wraps first Venom GT

2010-06-15 08:13

In Texas they supersize everything, which explains John Hennessey’s stretched Lotus Exige – the HPE Venom GT, complete with 882kW pushrod V8 power.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer HPE
Model Venom GT
Engine 6.2l twin-Turbo V8
Power 882kW @ 6 500r/min
Torque 1 317 @ 4 200r/min
Transmission Six-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 2.9 sec
Weight 1 120kg
Tyres F: 235/30/20 Michelin PS2, R: 335/30/20
The first of the Lotus Exige-based Venom GTs has been assembled and is en route to its owner in the United Arab Emirates.

Perhaps the most outrageous example of cross-Atlantic performance car cooperation since Carroll Shelby went racing with his modified AC Aces at Le Mans, the Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) Venom GT is essentially a Lotus Exige with Bugatti Veyron humbling pace.

The cars are being produced at a production facility in Silverstone, England, as opposed to HPE’s headquarters outside Dallas, Texas, where the engines are sourced and shipped across.

Mutant Elise

In terms of specification the Venom GT can be ordered in a variety of power grades, varying from 533- to 882kW. Power is courtesy of GM’s trusty LS9 Corvette-sourced 6.2l V8, which is buoyed by either forced induction for the Venom GT application.

Swapping the Exige’s stock Toyota RunX RSI 1.8l four-cylinder engine for the Corvette’s 6.2l V8 necessitated a lengthening of the Lotus bodywork by 300mm. The Venom GT is 150mm wider too and its surfacing has been fettled by the finest F1 aerodynamicists available in the UK, who’ve been able to manage airflow in a manner able to deploy 676kg of downforce.

HPE has attempted to ensure some level of dynamic harmony by employing German KW coil-over dampers at each wheel corner (able to vary ride height by 60mm), whilst six-pot calipers actuate 380mm Brembo carbon-ceramic rotors hidden behind the 20-inch wheels.

Comic-book performance figures

The 882kW Venom GT, shifting power to the rear wheels courtesy of a Ricardo six-speed manual transmission, is claimed to dispatch the critical 0-100 and 0-300km/h performance benchmarks in a staggering 2.9- and 14.9 seconds, respectively. HPE claims a top speed of beyond 400km/h, yet this remains to be verified.

Factor in John Hennessey’s litigious history (he’s been sued numerous times for breaking up customers cars and selling the parts, especially Dodge Vipers) and we are sure Colin Chapman must be turning in his grave to see a car from his factory falling prey to such lopsided engineering.

Industry insiders believe Hennessey’s decision to add his brand of suicidal V8 forced-induction tuning to a decidedly European performance car platform, such as the Exige, is evidence of a growing discontent with his business dealings (and shrinking demand for Hennessey tuning services) stateside. Be that as it may, the first Venom GT is done and dusted, with ten more to be assembled before the year runs out.

Whether the Venom GT will achieve the same legendary billing as the Shelby Cobra, though, remains to be seen.


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