Posts Tagged ‘Venom GT’
Today’s restomodders, replica builders, and tuners take an obsessive approach to performance. These vehicles are modified to a level of detail so far beyond their original roots that they are better described as brand-new production cars and trucks rather than upgraded versions of the original.
John Hennessey has been creating a steady stream of high-horsepower four-wheeled insanity since 1991. In 1993, when he turned his attention to Dodge Vipers, a legend was born. Over the last two decades, each generation of Hennessey Viper has produced some very serious numbers and taken down plenty of competitors at track tests. His latest, the Venom 1000 Twin Turbo, makes and astonishing 1120 hp and runs through the quarter-mile in 9.7 seconds.
But perhaps the company’s most interesting vehicle is the Venom GT. Here is a widened, stretched, and modified Lotus wearing carbon-fiber bodywork. This featherweight no longer uses a Toyota four-cylinder engine; instead, the Venom draws its power from a twin-turbocharged 7.0-liter, 1244-hp Chevrolet LSX V-8. Woof. That pushes the car to a speed of 265.7 mph and makes it one of the fastest in the world, and one of the world’s greatest thrill machines.
Icon Thriftmaster Pickup
Icon began as a top-level restoration house for Toyota Land Cruisers back in the late 1990s, and they continue to restore vehicles to original condition. But it is Icon’s wildly reimagined Land Cruisers, Broncos, and Chevy pickups that take modified restoration to an obsessive level. Company founder Jonathan Ward upgrades every aspect of these vehicles. If suitably robust and beautiful upgrade parts don’t exist, he builds them—expense be damned.
Thriftmaster trucks, based on 1947 to 1953 Chevrolet trucks, are marvelous performers thanks to a modern supercharged (and emissions-legal) GM crate engine, a capable Art Morrison road race-style chassis, and a detailed and luxurious interior. Even the doors of this truck are cool: Icon redesigned the door’s latch mechanism as well as all the cranks and pulls, so now this door closes with a solid thunk and the windows power up and down using the original window crank as switches. We particularly like the bison-hide bench seat filled with Tempur-Pedic foam cushions. Ward even re-created the original Chevrolet font for the Icon badging on this vehicle.
Singer Vehicle Design Porsche 911
For 50 years Porsche‘s 911 has been an icon of performance. Though today’s 911 is a sophisticated and evolved sports machine, plenty of purists prefer the 911s of the past. Singer Vehicle Design takes some of the best characteristics of these classic 911s and melds them with modern technology and impeccable craftsmanship to create what many have called the ultimate 911.
The chassis comes straight from the early 1990s 964-series 911, the last and most evolved of the air-cooled Porsches. The flat-six cylinder engines come in either a relatively tame 3.6-liter 270-hp version or a wild 360-hp 3.6-liter version, and both are paired to either a five- or six-speed manual.
Beyond the specs, it’s Singer’s details that are truly breathtaking. Though the body looks just like the classic 911, it’s actually a new and subtly flared custom amalgam of different models built from carbon fiber (except for the doors), which saves about 500 pounds. Though the exterior lighting recalls the original small bumper 1964 to 1973 cars, the lamps themselves are modern Bi-Xenon units with polycarbonate lenses. The brightwork around the car isn’t just reproduction chrome pieces but special nickel-plated pieces. And those wheels are cool, new 17-inch forged replicas that allow for larger tires.
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Reaper
For more than 40 years GM specialist Lingenfelter has produced some truly potent machines, including stock Corvettes tuned to become monsters, such as a 1000-hp version of today’s C7 Stingray. Their latest vehicle, the Reaper, was unveiled recently at the Chicago Auto Show. It’s a collaborative effort between Lingenfelter and Southern Comfort Automotive to produce a high-performance off-road truck based on the Chevy Silverado, one aimed to rival Ford’s Raptor.
Under the hood is one of two supercharged V-8s, the more potent of which is a 6.2-liter block that’s been supercharged to deliver 550 hp. The Reaper’s unique look is the result of a 3-inch taller Ride Tech suspension and aggressive new body panels that are flared to make room for 33-inch tires. Reapers can be ordered and delivered to select Chevy dealers and carry a three-year warranty. We’re ready to take the Reaper out to some rough terrain to see how it stacks up against the Raptor.
Shelby American 50th Anniversary Shelby Cobra 289 FIA
The late Carroll Shelby’s legendary Cobra is the granddaddy of small-batch tuner cars, though the term tuner seems a bit flip for such a storied and influential supercar. But at its roots, that’s what the Cobra was. Shelby took a big Ford engine and had AC rework the chassis of their Ace sports car to accept it. To mark the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the 289 Cobra, Shelby American will be building just 50 limited-edition continuation Cobras with either a fiberglass body or a more expensive aluminum one.
Plenty of companies have built Cobra replicas over the years. But the most highly prized ones aren’t replicas at all, but this kind of “continuation”—small batch production cars built by Shelby American. This anniversary tribute model is one of the coolest the company has ever created.
VL Automotive Destino
The Destino is the one car here you can’t buy yet. And frankly, we’re not sure when or if it will ever hit small-batch production. But the idea behind the car is just too cool. VL wants to repurpose the leftover chassis and bodies of the plug-in hybrid Fisker Karmas (the company’s assets are planned for auction on Feb. 12) by installing a new powertrain. Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz owns half of VL and plans to use his formidable connections to create a Corvette-powered sport sedan with the Fisker’s concept car looks.
Should the Destino reach production once Fisker’s bankruptcy proceedings are resolved, VL says it will offer the car with either the LT1 V-8 from the current C7 Stingray or a LS9 V-8 with more than 600 hp, made famous in the ZR1 Corvette. Katzkin, an interior-parts supplier would handle the custom leathers and finishes for the Destino. And to give the car a unique look upfront, there’s a more traditional grill that replaces Fisker’s original.
Our fingers are crossed for this one. A four-door with Corvette power never goes out of style.
Superformance Caterham Seven
Superformance is a small-batch builder of replica cars from South Africa whose designs represent the legendary American performance machines of the 1960s. They include Cobras (Superformance calls them Mark IIIs), Daytona Cobra coupes, and GT40s. Superformance cars are accurate and well-built. Their inventory has always been heavy on brawny American V-8 sports cars.
Now, for the first time, Superformance will be the official U.S. distributor for the Caterham Seven. It’s based on the Lotus Seven, the definition of a lightweight and rewarding open-air sports car. When production ended, Caterham bought the rights to build these cars from Lotus, and the Seven has been in production more or less uninterrupted since 1957.
Caterham Sevens destined for our shores are available in five models of increasing capability and speed. And like the Superformance cars, the Caterhams will be sold as a rolling chassis with third-part installation of the powertrain. Caterham says a top-level CSR with a 260-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder Ford engine will hit 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. We can’t wait to see these Caterhams on our streets.
Legacy Classic Trucks Power Wagon
Save for the Willys MB, no other American 4WD vehicle has a more decorated military history than the WC series Dodge trucks—Power Wagons. Legacy Classic Trucks of Jackson Hole, Wyo., has become one of the premiere restorers and restomodders of these icons. The company offers its Legacy Power Wagons upfitted with heavy-duty hardware, because Legacy intends its customers to use them as real trucks.
Under that domed hood, a buyer can opt for either a modern 425-hp Chrysler Legacy Magnum V-8 or a 3.9-liter Cummins diesel, both backed by a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Why not the 6.7-liter Cummins from today’s Dodge trucks? It just won’t fit. In either case, the power gets routed to a tough Atlas transfer case and down to Dana 60 front and Dana 80 rear axles with locking differentials. That’s extreme-duty truck stuff. So is the standard 16,500-pound-capacity winch and optional 42-inch tires. We’d have at least one of these in our dream garage.
American Expedition Vehicles Brute Double Cab
Jeep hasn’t had a pickup truck in its lineup since the Comanche ended production in 1992. But in 2004 Jeep revived the idea with the Gladiator, a name it borrowed from its mid-1960s full-size pickups and applied to a modern concept pickup built on the bones of the modern Wrangler.
Well, it’s 10 years later and we still don’t have a Jeep pickup. But American Expedition Vehicle (AEV) builds the Brute Double Cab to fill the void. AEV has been building and modifying Jeep Wranglers for 15 years. The Brute Double Cab is based on a 14-inch stretched version of the current Wrangler Unlimited chassis and fitted with a 5-foot composite bed. The DC350 model wears a 3.5-inch suspension lift, 35-inch-tall tires, and a Warn winch for off-road excursions. If you have an older Jeep Wrangler and want the utility of a pickup box, AEV has a Brute conversion for the 1997 to 2006 TJ Wranglers too.
Brabus B63S-700 6X6
We’ve left the wildest small-batch vehicle for last. Legendary German tuner Brabus has taken the insane 500-plus-horsepower, 6-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6X6—already perhaps the most wonderfully looney small-batch production vehicle on the planet—and gone a little further. Are they nuts? Of course. Thanks to new turbos supplying more boost pressure, the 5.5-liter engine pumps out 700 hp. That’s enough to move this 9000-pound beast to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds.
There’s lots more fun stuff here too, such as the exhaust valve button on the steering wheel for Loud or Quiet. There’s plenty of carbon-fiber bodywork to dress this beast up too. Inside, the interior gets retrimmed in Alcantara and (in this case) fire-red leather.
Don’t expect to see one of these small-batch machines in the wild—unless you happen to visit Dubai on vacation.
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Beyond the big three giant car companies in the U.S., most people are familiar with the names of famed U.S. carmakers that no longer exist, such as Duesenberg, Studebaker, and Packard. But there are lesser-known companies, such as these, still making cars today (and some more recently deceased).
What began as a model built by Studebaker in the early 1960s became its own car company—one that changed hands its share of times. Avantis were based on versions of a rounded-wedge design created by Raymond Loewy and sold for the 1963 and 1964 model years. A new Avanti Motor Corporation created the Avantia II using GM mechanicals. That lasted until 1985. In 1987 the company was sold again, and this time the New Avanti Motor Corporation lasted until the early 1990s. In 2000 production of a GM-platform Avanti began in Georgia. It switched to Ford drivelines in 2004, and these cars were little more than Mustangs underneath with styling similar to the original Avantis. By 2006 production had moved to the spring break mecca,Cancun, Mexico, with total production being only about a few hundred cars. The last Avantis to be made rolled off the line in 2007—though you can never count out another comeback.
Reeves Callaway is an auto fanatic who began building and selling turbocharger kits for BMWs and Volkswagen GTIs in the early 1970s, then moved into hot-rodding Corvettes in the 1980s. Today his company takes Corvettes, Camaros, and even Silverado pickups and modifies them at his Connecticut or California facilities. Most of the tuning goes into the hand-built engines, which upgrade the output to 650 hp for the C16 (Callaway’s version of the C6 Corvette).Callaway also adds special leather interiors and matching luggage. Callaway’s cars can be serviced at Chevrolet dealers and carry a three-year or 36,000-mile warranty, just like Chevy’s own cars. Buyers can take delivery of a Callaway Corvette at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky. Callaway Camaros come with aerodynamic body panels and a 572-hp engine, plus embroidered headrests and floor mats.
Toward the end of the 1980s, when showroom stock racing was crowded with high-priced sport coupes, Warren Moslercreated his own low-slung, lightweight racing cars modeled after aerodynamic prototype GT cars. Mosler’s original Consulier was powered by the latest turbocharged 2.2-liter Chrysler four-cylinder that made so much power Carroll Shelby lent his name to theDodge Omni GLH (nicknamed “Goes Like Hell”) economy hatchback. Mosler built enough Consuliers that they qualified as production cars and were street legal. These days, the new Mosler MT900SCs—which share a low-slung, midengine configuration with the original Consuliers—get to 60 mph in a claimed 3.1 seconds and can top 190 mph. The MT900SC’s engine is based on a 7.0-liter Corvette LS7 V-8 that is standard equipment in theCorvette Z06. Racing versions have been tuned to more than 1000 hp.
In 1988 pharmaceutical company founder Donald Panoz bought the design of a racing car chassis in Ireland and started development of the Panoz Roadster, which went on the market in 1990 to embody “brute strength and raw power built for the absolute pleasure of high-speed driving,” according to the company’s promotional materials. That car, as well as its descendants—the bare-bones 1996 AIV (aluminum intensive vehicle) and the 1997 Esperante—are darty and race-car-like on the road, running on aluminum Ford V-8s.
Also in 1997 Panoz began racing his cars at Le Mans. A couple years later he started the now-popular American Le Mans Series and began buying racetracks and opening driving schools.
SSC stands for Shelby SuperCars, created by Jerod Shelby—no relation to the legendary Carroll Shelby. SSC’s Jerod Shelby is a kart racer and designer from central Washington State, where SSC is headquartered. Last summer SSC announced plans to build five versions of its 1300-hp, seven-speed Ultimate Aero XT supercar, which is an evolution of the company’s Tuatara supercar. This twin-turbo V-8-powered midengine GT sports car is currently SSC’s fastest car, and was also recognized by the Guinness World Record folks as the fastest production car in the world until the Hennessey Venom GT took that honor.
Jeff Lemke, a 41-year-old Detroit-area car nut, spent more than a decade building composite body panels for Dodge Vipers. But in 2009 he chased his dream to build his own car, the Falcon F7. This two-seater features a midmounted Corvette LS7 V-8 engine. There are three running cars, and the first production model was sold to a New York enthusiast in 2012. Lemke claims a top speed over 200 mph, and we drove the production car at over 100 mph. It’s 3 inches longer than a Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 and 2 inches lower. The chassis is based on an aluminum monocoque from a race car and the body is carbon fiber.
Ever since John Hennessey’s hot-rodded Dodge Vipers from the 1990s started racing in open highway time trials in the West and in Mexico, the Texas tuner has gained a reputation as a top-speed addict. His twin-turbo V-10 Viper set a record in a Road & Track magazine test in 2007, which led Hennessey to completely rework his top-speed concept with a brand-new design: a Lotus Exige two-seater with a Corvette LS7 V-8.
The new Venom GT is lighter and smaller, yet the twin-turbo treatment carries over to the 7.0-liter V-8 engine that makes 1244 hp and drives the rear wheels through a Ricardo six-speed manual gearbox, the same that was used on Ford’s GT. The Venom GT has longer front and rear subframes than its Lotus donor car, as well as longer and more aerodynamic bodywork. Eight of these cars have been built—a black one for rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame. The price of the Venom GT is about $1 million per copy, and top speed is a claimed 278 mph. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, just make it turn a little faster,” Hennessey has said, saying that increased horsepower models are in the works.
John DeLorean, the late charismatic formerGM executive, founded his own car company to build two-seat sport coupes in 1981 and 1982. But the venture failed after producing about 9000 cars. A liquidator purchased unsold cars shortly after the company failed, and small independent companies began to carry replacement parts for the unique midengine stainless-steel-body cars.
In 2007 one of these companies, DMC Texas, began to produce new cars made from mostly stock parts, and sold these 1980s restorations for about $60,000 each. Now called DeLorean Motor Company of Humble, it also sells refurbished used DeLoreans from its shop in Humble, Texas. Plans are in the works to build and sell all-electric DeLoreans starting around $90,000, which will feature a 100-mile range and a 260-hp electric motor.
The huge utility Pacific Gas and Electric operates a fleet of more than 13,000 vehicles in California. Soon many of those will be replaced by all-electric work trucks, vans, and SUVs, through a partnership with VIA Motors, a custom EV-maker that has former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz on hand as spokesman.
VIA’s eREV (extended-range electric vehicle) lineup includes pickups, vans, and full-size SUVs that can travel 40 miles on battery power and switch to fuel-powered generators that can produce from 15 to 50 kilowatts to recharge batteries and supply power to homes during emergencies. During typical driving, VIA claims its trucks can achieve 100 mpge.
“VIA’s partnership with PG&E, and the introduction of the world’s first extended-range electric work trucks, SUVs, and cargo vans in their fleet, marks a turning point in the electrification of the industry’s fleets,” Lutz says. “As the world becomes more aware of the economic advantages of this ultraclean technology, I am convinced that this type of electric vehicle will become very popular with consumers as well, and will help end our dependence on oil.”
Bugatti has been in and out of the news recently, for both good and bad. Firstly, the brand was stripped of its title as the”world’s fastest production car” after deactivating the restrictor that limits the car’s top speed during its record run. Bugatti rebounded from that knock by announcing yesterday that its Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse secured the record as the “world’s fastest convertible,” managing a speed of 254 mph. Keeping with the good news, Guinness World Records announced today that it has in fact now reinstated the Veyron Super Sport as the “fastest production car in the world,” returning the 1,200 hp hypercar to its rightful spot as number one.
Let’s recap what happened here. This is Guinness’s original statement declaring the stripping:
“It has come to the attention of Guinness World Records that there was an oversight in its adjudication of the ‘Fastest production car’ which was set in 2010 by the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. As the car’s speed limiter was deactivated, this modification was against the official guidelines. Consequently, the vehicle’s record set at 431.072 km/h is no longer valid. As we are now reviewing this category with expert external consultants there is no current record holder.”
This latest announcement from Guinness, received today, backtracks somewhat from their original statement, claiming that the deactivation was not as problematic as they initially believed:
“Following a thorough review conducted with a number of external experts, Guinness World Records is pleased to announce the confirmation of Bugatti’s record of Fastest production car achieved by the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. The focus of the review was with respect to what may constitute a modification to a car’s standard specification. Having evaluated all the necessary information, Guinness World Records is now satisfied that a change to the speed limiter does not alter the fundamental design of the car or its engine.”
So there you have it, the Veyron stands as number one. Again. And if we’re honest, a restrictor that limits the car by a mere 9.8 mph to protect crazy customers attempting to surpass 258 mph is not much of reason to lose it in the first place. Not having that restriction, allowing drivers to potentially surpass what is deemed a “safe” speed for tires to withstand, remains even crazier.
As we’ve heard a lot recently, Hennessey Performance claim its Venom GT remains “the fastest production car available to the public” at 265.7 mph. But who cares? In the eyes of Guinness, the 267.8 mph Veyron remains king.
Lotuses are being used for all sorts of things nowadays; Hennessey utilizes one for the Venom GT — a machine they claim stands as the fastest production car in the world — and now Detroit Electric reveals its SP:01, stated as the fastest pure-electric sports car in the world. And with a 0-62 mph time of just 3.7 seconds, complimenting its top speed of 155 mph, if it does indeed see the light of day, the Detroit Electric SP:01 could provide further proof of a resurgent Motor City.
No doubt the SP:01′s stats are impressive, but it’s not power that makes the electric sports car so rapid, it’s the weight; the SP:01 tips the scales at just 2,354 lbs. Power derives from an air-cooled, asynchronous AC electric motor, delivering 201 hp and 166 lb. ft. of instantaneous torque. Those figures, even mixed with the lightweight carbon-fiber body, make the speed statistics seem quite a stretch; I suppose it showcases the power of instant torque.
The manual gearbox seen on the Lotus remains, but the 5th and 6th gears are blocked off (5th can be reinstalled at a price). Changing gear promises to be seldom, however, as the taller ratios are only needed when achieving top speeds. Having multiple ratios makes a lot of sense in an electric car, as the drive ratio is often so long it diminishes the rewards offered by the instant torque. Having recently driven the Mercedes SLS Electric Drive (currently the fastest production EV in the world), which maintained that long gear, the initial power, while impressive, didn’t match expectations. Perhaps this could be the answer?
With a power rating of 37 kWh, the lithium polymer batteries provide a range of 180 miles with a charge time of around four hours (when using a 240V charge point). A patented bi-directional charge feature enables the car to power your house, too. Cooling is controlled by an in-house system, with a thermal management pack fitted to keep the batteries and motor running at an optimum temperature.
At $135,000, the SP:01 will not be an electric sports car for the masses. And despite this announcement, Detroit Electric has a long road ahead to get its promised output of 999 cars into production, let alone sell any to stay afloat. The concept, on paper, sounds great. But as we’ve seen before, promises like this are increasingly difficult to fulfill.
It must be nice to have a spare $1.1 million to spend on a new car, but that’s what Steven Tyler just spent on the world’s fastest street-legal convertible. The Hennessey Venom GT Spyder will accelerate to 200 mph in 15.9 seconds, eight seconds faster than a Bugatti Veyron.
Tyler will be the first owner of a convertible version of the Venom GT. ”Steven came to us last year and asked if we could build his Venom GT as a roadster”, says John Hennessey. It required some structural changes to the integrated rollcage to accommodate the removable top which resulted in modifications to adjust for the weight changes. Only five Venom GTs will be built this year and Tyler’s will be the only convertible.
In its review of the Venom GT after a test ride in the a prototype last year, Jalopnik.com described the hand-built supercar as “the best way to die”. Fortunately the number of owners having that option is very limited.