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Venom - Hennessey's first supercar
by IKE 15-Jun-2010 14:26

John Hennessey is a well-known (some say notorious) tuner, famous for its huge horsepower upgrades to already fast cars like the Dodge Viper or the Chevrolet Corvette. He is ambitious enough to attempt the step from tuner to manufacturer with his first bespoke (or nearly bespoke) car, the Venom GT. It looks like a caricature stretched Lotus Exige because it is basically that. The idea was to install a powerful tuned V10 from a Viper to the small and light Lotus chassis. However a V8 from GM was considered more suitable and after a lot of work the Venom is almost ready to be delivered to the first customer in UAW.---

HPE retained the central monocoque chassis, the doors windshield and roof of the Exige. Two newly designed subframes are mounted front and rear. The engine (either a supercharged LS9 or a twin turbo LS) is mounted longitudinally and is powering the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transaxle from Ricardo (similar to the one found on Ford GT).

Without the engine cover one can see the spacious engine compartment. The Venom is much bigger than an Exige (~85cm longer and ~20 wider). The two turbos aren't very close to the exhaust ports but with so much power the lag should be the last thing on the drivers mind. The design of the car as a whole is a little crude and it could easily be an endurance race-car. The racing Elise GT of 1997 was remarkably similar, it even had a longitudinally mounted GM V8 (developed by Lotus) from the previous ZR1.

Considering this is HPEs first attempt to a bespoke supercar the exterior styling is a little disappointing. Most people will think of the Venom as a larger version of the Exige which may not be entirely untrue but it largely downplays the role of Hennessay. Another front and rear design could render it a new Saleen S7 or SSC Aero rather than the -largely unfair- "tuned" Lotus.

HPE published several CFD images but it isn't clear how much aero work is conceptual optimization rather than troubleshooting. The general styling suggest that the second is rather the case.

The packaging isn't as clever or relatively compact as a Veyron or a Koenigsegg (McLaren F1 is in a different league here).

The Venom GT won't be a fully accomplished and spherically complete supercar like a Veyron, F1 or even a Koenigsegg even though it may be faster than all of them. Faithful to HPE's line of thought is simply a hugely powerful beast for customers who want something excessive.

Apart from that, it should be a very educative project for HPE because with a relatively small investment it enters another league amongst tuners and verges on manufacturer status. The 'tuner' aura of the styling however still shows HPE's origins.


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