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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Cancel the Veyron, get a Hennessy Venom GT

Venom GT

At Cape Canaveral, Florida, on February 14, 2014, the Hennessey Venom GT set a new world speed record for two-seat sports cars by reaching a top speed of 435.31 km/h. The run was performed at the Kennedy Space Center on the 3.2 mile Space Shuttle landing runway. Brian Smith, director of Miller Motorsport, experienced race driver and a former Michelin tire test engineer, drove the Venom GT to its record speed.
A representative from Racelogic, world-renowned maker of GPS data-acquisition systems, was on hand to independently verify and document the Venom GT’s speed record. “The Venom GT attained a maximum speed of 435.31 km/h as measured by our VBOX 3i GPS system,” said Racelogic engineer Joe Lachovsky. The VBOX GPS data showed that the Venom GT was still accelerating at an average rate of 1 mph per second as it took just 10.1 seconds to go from 260 to 270 mph. The record run was made over a distance of 2.4 miles, which allowed the Venom just eight-tenths of a mile to stop. Thankfully, its Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes were able to haul the car down from 270 mph well before the end of the runway’s 1000-ft. threshold.
“I knew the car had it in it, but it’s a thrill to officially validate the Venom GT’s 435 km/h speed,” said Hennessey CEO Don Goldman. “Venturing anywhere above 320 km/h - let alone 435 - is not to be taken lightly, and we’re elated to have accomplished our goal.”
The Hennessey team can now add absolute top speed to its growing list of speed records. The Venom GT also owns the title for world’s fastest from 0-300 km/h (13.63 sec.) and 0-200 mph (14.51 sec.). With a curb weight of 1,244 kilograms and a power output of 1,244 bhp from its 7.0 liter twin turbo V8 engine, the Venom delivers 1 horsepower per kilogram of curb weight, making it the hardest-accelerating and fastest series-produced vehicle in the world.
Achieving the world record is a dream realized for company founder and president John Hennessey. “I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. Neil Armstrong was my childhood hero. Even though the astronaut thing didn’t work out for me, I am humbled to have had the opportunity to set our speed record on the hallowed grounds of the American space program,” said Hennessey. “Building and validating our Venom GT as the world’s fastest has been a long journey and a lot of hard work. But as President Kennedy once so eloquently said, ‘We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’ As a result we have built a better car and a better team at Hennessey Performance (HPE).”
“It was still pulling,” said driver Brian Smith after the record run. “If we could run on an 8-mile oval we could go faster than that. On the very top end there was a little wandering but, hey, we’re going 435 km/h! The Venom GT didn’t require any big corrections, and the Michelins held traction really well.”
To date, HPE has built and delivered eleven Venom GTs to owners around the world. Each vehicle is built to order and takes six months to complete. As the production run will be limited to a total of just 29 units worldwide, the Venom GT is not only the fastest but also one of the most exclusive hypercars ever produced.
Its components and systems, by necessity, need to meet the extraordinary demands inherent in achieving such rarefied velocities, and the Venom GT’s Pennzoil Platinum synthetic motor oil is no exception. Said Chris Hayek, Global Brand Director for Pennzoil, “We constantly pursue the latest advancements in technology, and we couldn’t be more excited that Hennessey Performance achieved this world speed record using Pennzoil’s new full synthetic motor oil made from natural gas.”


The Pick-up turns 80

The first pick-up in 1934.

Thailand might be the second largest market for pick-ups, but the world’s adoption of this style of vehicle comes from Australia, where they are known as “Utes”, a colloquial term for the original designation of “coupe utility”.
The first design became metal in 1934 and the body style was developed after a Victorian farmer’s wife wrote to the then boss of Ford in Australia, Hubert French in 1933, asking for “a car and a truck but we need a car to go to church on Sunday and a truck to take the pigs to market on Monday.”
The man chosen by French was a young design engineer called Lew Bandt, who incorporated a two door cabin with a load carrying tray at the rear, blending the tray sides into the coupe body - rather than the separated cabin and trayback truck commonly used until then. The first ute had a payload of 545 kilograms on a wheelbase of 2845mm, and Bandt was even responsible for the name, calling his creation the “coupe-utility”. And that was 80 years ago.
After receiving approval from French, the “coupe utility” was released in Australia in 1934 and won an immediate following amongst rural Australia. With the success locally, examples were then sent to America, where it also met approval.
It became a popular vehicle style in Australia, with 22,000 sold between 1940 and 1954, and spawned generations of Ford Falcon utes, which have sold more than 455,000 since the first XK Falcon hit the dealerships in 1961. And the Australian influence continues. The Aussie designed and developed Ford Ranger is a strong seller in more than 180 markets around the world, and incidentally is manufactured here in Thailand at Rayong.
Lew Bandt’s original drawings are archived by Ford in Australia, and one of the original coupe-utes is still on display in a Victorian museum. Its descendants have gone on to resounding global success, with Ford selling more than a million Ranger-based vehicles around the world in 2013, while the F-Series ute marked its 37th year running as the top-selling truck in the US. Ironically, whilst Lew Bandt might have breathed life into the body style, Bandt died after an accident while he was at the wheel of a restored version of his coupe-utility in 1987.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Cancel the Veyron, get a Hennessy Venom GT

The Pick-up turns 80