That great American childhood consumer of recess, King of the Hill, has likely been banned on playgrounds these days. Heck, they’ve probably just banned all the hills. But some of us remember an age when you could pummel and wrestle your second grade classmates for a full 15 minutes until you were powdered like a donut with pea gravel dust, and your teachers were just glad you were burning off the energy from those sloppy joes you ate for lunch. And we remember that King of the Hill has one objective – knock off the guy on top.
It turns out that the hypercar business plays by the same rules.
Earlier this month, Hennessey Performance took their 1,244 hp Venom GT all the way up to 265.7 mph. That’s just 2.1 mph slower than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which held the record at the time for the fastest production car in the world. Nice work, Hennessey. With a little tweaking here and there, you’ll certainly get the record.
But instead of tweaking their car, they started digging. They found out that though the Veyron SS did hit 267.8, a speed limiter cuts out the fuel at 258 to keep the tires from exploding. Loophole secured, Hennessey hit the presses, claiming to have the fastest production car…in the world.
The Guinness people, meanwhile, were hovering overhead like a great war zeppelin, and while they never deigned to test the Venom, Hennessey’s self-aggrandizement did turn their steampunk gun-sights on Bugatti. Seeing that the speed limiter was, in fact, in place on stock Veyron SSs (“essesses?”), they promptly stripped the car of its title.
So did Hennessey get their way? Do they have the record? Heck no. They were passed over again, like a sit-com middle child, and the record went back to the previous holder, the SSC Ultimate Aero, the creators of which were surprised, but probably very delighted.
Then, less than a week later, Guinness announced that they had reevaluated their guidelines and ruled that removing a speed limiter was an acceptable modification to leave the car at “stock” level, and that the Veyron SS was reinstated as the fastest production car in the world. We didn’t see any reactions from Hennessey, but we imagine they looked like grumpy cat all day long. Foiled again!
And that’s almost the end of the story. But just yesterday SSC, perhaps not wanting to be forgotten after tasting glory again, release some information on the Tuatara, their next creation. They’ve just finished an engine dyno test, which clocked 1,350 hp and 1,280 lbs of torque. Modified, they say, it’s strong enough to create 1,700 hp without a single occurrence of failure or damage. They claim that’s more than enough to fire the Tuatara to the predicted top speed of 275 mph.
So while they still have to put that engine in the car, and have a car to put it in, it’s nice to get some fresh news from SSC. Prior to this, they hadn’t given us any word since the summer of 2011. Most of us had just given up on the thing and dismissed it as vaporware. So will they take the title when the Tuatara is released in…er…the future? We’ll have to see. If we can still see at that age.