Tesla’s Roadster isn’t the fastest car in the world, but it’s damn close
Hennessey Venom F5 (301 mph) – The Venom F5 may have the most impressive spec sheet of all time. It produces 1,600 horsepower, can go 301 mph, and costs $1.6 million. Nothing will ever be the same.
“How fast can it go?”
There are many ways to measure automotive excellence, but top speed is the one everybody secretly cares about the most. Aldous Huxley was right about speed being the only truly modern sensation. He left out the part about how much fun it is.
These 25 cars are more than just fun, though, they’re the fastest production cars on the planet. The emphasis here is on “production” — racers and one-off custom jobs need not apply. We also tried to limit our selections for the fastest cars in the world to those with claimed top speeds that have been generally recognized as legitimate by the automotive media and sanctioning groups.
There are also some cars on the horizon that appear ready to knock some names off this list. SSC still hopes to reclaim the title of world’s fastest car with its 1,350-horsepower Tuatara, and Bugatti will officially test the Chiron’s top speed in 2018. For now, though, these are the fastest cars that can legally sport a license plate.
Hennessey Venom F5 (301 mph, claimed)
In terms of top speed, Hennessey Performance Engineering is running roughshod over the competition. Hennessey’s Venom GT — which recorded its monumental, yet unofficial 270-mph run in 2014 — sat atop this list for some time, but three years later, Hennessey challenged the boundaries of physics yet again.
Boasting a claimed top speed of 301 mph, the Venom F5 smashes the previous top speed figure by more than a school zone speed limit. To do so, Hennessey started with an all-new, 2,950-pound carbon fiber chassis (the Venom GT is based on the Lotus Exige), and bolted a 1,600-hp, 7,4-liter, twin-turbo V8 to it. The results are absolutely astonishing, as the car can reportedly go from 0 to 249 to 0 mph in less than 30 seconds total. Hennessey has yet to confirm its top speed with the Guinness Book of World Records, so the Koenigsegg Agera RS remains the official fastest car in the world … for now.
Koenigsegg Agera RS (278 mph)
The Koenigsegg Agera RS is officially the fastest car in the world, and yet it sits in the second position on our list. Why?
In terms of spec sheets, Hennessey’s Venom F5 is more impressive. Its claimed top speed of 301 mph obliterates everything else on this list by a significant margin, but Hennessey hasn’t verified its numbers with the Guinness Book of World Records. Koenigsegg has, so even though it gets the silver medal here, in the real world, the Agera RS is the true speed king.
To set the official record, Koenigsegg asked the Nevada Department of Transportation to close an 11-mile stretch of Route 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump. On public roads, the 1,160-hp Swedish supercar hit 284.55 mph during its first run and 271.19 mph during the second, which averages out to 277.9 mph. Watch the run here.
Hennessey Venom GT (270 mph)
Hennessey recorded a 270.4-mph run at the Kennedy Space Center in 2014, but only in one direction. To be considered legitimate, record attempts usually require one run in each direction. An average is then taken to account for wind conditions.
Because of its handbuilt nature, there’s also some debate about whether the Venom GT qualifies as a production car. While it’s top speed is undoubtedly amazing, Hennessey’s monster wasn’t recognized as the world’s fastest car by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Bugatti Chiron (261+ mph)
The Bugatti Veyron was a monumental feat of engineering, a supercar whose performance was so marvelous, Top Gear presenter James May compared it to the automobile equivalent of the Concorde. After 10 years of production, the Volkswagen Group has unveiled the Veyron’s successor, the Bugatti Chiron.
Named for a legendary centaur in Greek mythology, the Chiron is intended to improve upon the Veyron in every way. Hitting 261 mph using street legal settings, the 1500-hp Chiron is like a beast in chains. On the racetrack, Bugatti aims to break those chains, as well as the current speed record. For now, its top speed remains a mystery to the public. Although the Chiron is built like a race car, one needn’t be a professional to operate it — the car is engineered to automatically adjust its machinery as the speed increases or decreases, ensuring optimal performance.
The Chiron will not be a mere speedster, but a comprehensive luxury vehicle as well. Beyond a beautiful leather interior, the car also sports a decadent sound system, with a diamond diaphragm inside each speaker. The dashboard features high-resolution digital displays that will adjust as the car’s speed changes, showing only crucial information at higher speeds. The Chiron looks to be a king among supercars, which is fitting, as kings will be among the few to obtain one — only 500 will be released for the first generation, and they cost a staggering $2.6 million each.
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (268 mph)
When Volkswagen purchased the Bugatti brand, it had one goal: build the fastest production car in the world. The original Veyron achieved that goal, and with a price tag of $1.7 million and a quad-turbocharged W16 engine producing 1,000 hp, it also boasted the most superlatives of any production car.
Yet the Veyron was soon dethroned by the SSC Ultimate Aero, so Bugatti came back with the Veyron Super Sport. This Veyron-plus has 1,200 hp, and numerous aerodynamic changes meant to help gain a few extra miles per hour.
With a top speed of 268 mph recorded at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessein test track, the Veyron Super Sport was once recognized as the world’s second fastest production car by Guinness. The related Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse is also the world’s fastest open-topped car, with a top speed of 254 mph.
SSC Ultimate Aero (256 mph)
Shelby SuperCars (SSC) has nothing to do with Carroll Shelby of Cobra fame, but for a moment its Ultimate Aero was the fastest production car in the world. It hit 256 mph in 2007, beating the non-Super Sport version of the Veyron.
Helping it achieve that velocity is a 6.3-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 1,287 hp. There are no electronic driver aids to help control that power either, creating a purer driving experience for those with talent, and a scenario for certain death for those without it.
Tesla Roadster (250 mph, claimed)
The original Tesla Roadster was a sports car based on the Lotus Elise, and although its performance was certainly impressive, it’s more known for establishing Tesla as a legitimate player in the automotive world. The new Roadster, with its bonafide supercar levels of performance, is another thing altogether.
Revealed as a surprise at the end of the Tesla Semi unveiling, the second-generation Roadster features the most impressive spec sheet of any EV before it — 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, 0 to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and a claimed top speed of 250 mph. While these numbers remain unconfirmed at this time, the Roadster’s 200kWh battery pack is absolutely massive and will undoubtedly push performance EVs to an entirely new level. The biggest battery you can get in a Model S or Model X is half that size, by the way.
In addition to the ridiculous acceleration and speed, Musk claims the Roadster will boast a range of 620 miles.
Saleen S7 Twin Turbo (248 mph)
Among performance addicts, the Saleen S7 is legend. There are several reasons for this — the exotic styling, insane performance, and incredible tuning potential to name a few — but much of the vehicle’s appeal is actually historical. Produced from 2000 to 2009, the S7 was America’s first mid-engined supercar.
It wasn’t just the first in the U.S. though; it’s one of the best supercars ever made. Built on a lightweight chassis crafted from aluminum and steel, the vehicle featured a hulking 7.0-liter V8 that produced 550 hp, allowing it to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds. About halfway through its lifecycle, Saleen debuted the S7 Twin Turbo, which brought the car’s performance to near comical levels.
Now producing 750 hp, the vehicle could hit 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds before smashing the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds. However, its most stunning statistic is its top speed of 248 mph, making it one of the fastest cars ever put to pavement.
Koenigsegg CCR (242 mph)
The CCR was essentially an earlier generation of the cars Koenigsegg is building today. It featured a 4.7-liter V8 of the company’s own design, a carbon-fiber body, and not much in the way of electronic aids.
Despite its impressive stats, the CCR’s moment in the spotlight was as brief as its claim on the world. It was soon supplanted by the CCX, and then by the current Agera. Koenigsegg says the Agera-based One:1 will top out at over 270 mph, but no one has tried it yet.
McLaren F1 (241 mph)
Years before it attempted to take on Ferrari and Porsche with the MP4-12C, McLaren was known only as a successful race team in Formula 1 and the defunct Can-Am series. Yet its first road car wasn’t exactly an amateur effort.
McLaren intended to make the F1 the ultimate road-going supercar, but its design was informed by the company’s racing experience. The F1 even went on to a fairly successful racing career in its own right, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995.