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Hennessey Venom GT (2010) first official pictures

Mon, 29 Mar 2010

Less is more with the Lotus Elise. Hethel’s smallest sports car is sweetest when its lightweight aluminium chassis has a little naturally aspirated engine providing the power; a 257bhp Exige variant is about as powerful as it ever needs to be.

So here’s a 1200bhp version…

That’s right. Hennessey Performance – a Texas tuner that’s most famous for extracting big power figures from modern American muscle cars – has just unveiled the Venom GT. And although the chassis is derived from a Lotus Elise, power comes from a 6.2-litre V8 powerplant available with up to 1200bhp.

The Venom GT starts life as an Elise, but it’s stretched and strengthened at the company’s production facility near Silverstone in the UK. Meantime Hennessey’s Texas HQ takes delivery of the 638bhp supercharged 6.2-litre V8 LS9 engine from the Corvette ZR1 and gets to work – Venom GT owners can pick from an ‘entry-level’ 725bhp version, or two twin-turbo variants with either 1000 or 1200bhp. The engines are then flown to the UK to be mated to the Venom GT. Incidentally, all the power is sent to the Michelin rear wheels via a six-speed Ricardo gearbox.

Despite having a big, mid-mounted V8 Hennessey claims the Venom GT will weigh less than 1071kg, thanks in part to carbonfibre bodywork and carbonfibre wheels. Ceramic brakes (15in in diameter) also keep the kilos in check. Other highlights include an active aero system with an adjustable rear wing, and an adjustable suspension system.

‘This is not the first time that Britain and America have joined forces to produce a weapon of mass propulsion’, says company founder and president John Hennessey. ‘Over fifty years ago the American-built P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft was flown into history powered by a British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Today the Hennessey Venom GT promises to set a new standard of power to weight ratio in the rarefied air of today's supercar market.'

Production is limited to just 10 vehicles every year (Hennessey claims to have orders for four cars already) and prices for the 725bhp car should start north of £400k.

By Ben Pulman