With countless ways to evaluate the overall performance of a car, is it not ironic that we fixate on the most superficial, the most unimportant metric with which to measure? We’re talking of course about top speed, and when it comes to feeding that need, we don’t care how quick it sprints to 60 mph or tackles a quarter mile; only the top speed of the fastest production cars in the world really matter in the end.
The problem with determining the world’s “fastest production car” is that the term “production car” is loosely defined and therefore difficult to peg accurately. Nevertheless, we’ve done our best to sort through the creme of the crop of cars that are not heavily modified versions of another manufacturers design or one-off concepts.
Here is a list of the 13 fastest cars in the world. The following are all street legal production cars, which have speeds that have been (mostly) verified in some shape or form. That means no SSC Tuatara and Hennessey Venom GT – at least not just yet, but they do merit a mention at the bottom of this list.
We’ll start wit the slowest of the bunch at a mere 213mph. Hold on:
13. Jaguar XJ220 (213 mph)
Jaguar might not be as synonymous with sports cars as Porsche or Ferrari but throughout its history, the company’s portfolio of mouth-watering models, including the C, D, and E-types, has earned it the sort of reputation other automakers only dream of. And while the company’s XJ220 supercar might not bask in the same glow as the aforementioned models, it’s an iconic car in its own right, holding the record for the fastest production car from 1992 until 1993 with a top speed of 213 mph.
Perhaps even more impressive, however, is the fact that the XJ220 held the Nürburgring production car lap record between 1992 and 2000 with a time of 7:46.36 – not bad considering the production version got downsized from a V12 to a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6. And as with other Jaguar icons, the XJ220’s stunning design barely shows its age 21 years after its debut. If only we could all age so gracefully.
12. Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster (217 mph)
We have to give credit where credit is due: Pagani is one of the few boutique automakers to emerge in recent years that actually had the knack to stay afloat. While building a sports car worth its salt is no easy feat, Pagani makes the task seem almost trivial. For example, the Zonda Cinque Roadster of which only five (hence the name) were made. Despite limited production numbers, the Cinque’s speed is anything but low, and is powered by an AMG-sourced (Mercedes-Benz’s go-fast division) 7.3-liter V12 that belts out an atmospheric 678 horsepower along its way to a top speed of 217 mph.
11. Lamborghini Aventador (219 mph)
It figures that you didn’t have to go far down this list before seeing a specimen from Sant’Agata Bolognese.
The Lamborghini Aventador is another raging bull from the house that brought us the Diablo and the Countach. In keeping with Lamborghini tradition, the Aventador is named after a fighting bull that hailed from the Saragossa region of Spain in 1993. At the heart of this beast beats a 6.5-liter V12 that sends power to all four wheels via a 7-speed semi-automatic transmission. Top speed is pegged at a blistering 219 mph.
10. Aston Martin One-77 (220 mph)
What’s in a name? Well when talking about the Aston Martin One-77 we learn two things: For starters, it’s gorgeous – just look at that rear end and try to prevent your jaw from dropping. What’s more, even if you had the $1.8 million Aston Martin is asking for, what makes you think you’ll be among the lucky 77 (hence the 77 in the name) to nab one? Even more droolworthy, however, is the fact that this luxurious four-wheeled rocket is powered by a 7.3-liter V12 engine that pushes the supercar to a top speed of 220 mph.
9. Gumpert Apollo (223 mph)
Gumpert isn’t as well-known as Ferrari and Lamborghini, and the German Sportwagenmanufaktur has certainly fallen on some tough times as of late – entering into administration in 2012 – but that hasn’t stopped the company from chugging along and boasting one of the fastest cars the world has ever seen with its Apollo supercar.
With a 4.2-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine mated to a six-speed manual that sends power to the rear wheels, the Apollo is capable of hitting a top speed of 223 mph. Gumpert even claims that because of its optimized design, the Apollo can drive upside-down (yeah, you read that right: upside down) in a tunnel if driven at speeds over 190 mph. But as you can imagine, nobody has had the balls to put that claim to the test. Gumpert, if you’re reading this, we do, we do…
8. Noble M600 (225 mph)
Hey, remember the time you wanted to buy a supercar but didn’t want to look like a flashy douche? British automaker Noble Automotive remembers (Pepperidge Farm does, too) which is exactly why it built the M600.
Rather than rely on flash and glitz, Noble’s masterpiece is an unassuming sports car on the outside but it’s anything but mild-mannered on the inside. No, in fact, it’s a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive lightning bolt of a car that sports a Volvo-sourced 4.4-liter V8 engine and can hit a top speed of 225 miles per hour. I guess the Swedes really do know another word that starts with the letter S besides “safety”.
7. Zenvo ST1 (233 mph)
We don’t often associate the Danes with supercars but maybe we should. The Zenvo ST1 is the first supercar to hail from Denmark and is the first car from Danish automaker Zenvo Automotive, which was founded in 2004 by Jesper Jensen and Troels Vollersten, with the Zenvo name being an amalgamation of their two names. Did we mention the car is fast? Like, really fast. Of course, what do you expect when your ultra-exclusive (only 15 copies have and will be made) supercar houses a 7.0-liter V8 engine capable of pumping out 1250 hp and 1,050 lb-ft of torque. Oh and you know, it’s top speed is pegged at a modest 233 mph, too.
6. McLaren F1 (240 mph)
Chances are if you grew up in the 1990s you had a poster of the McLaren F1 – and for good reason. The $970,000 speed sensation is arguably one of the finest modern automotive accomplishments and will likely go down as one of the greatest cars of all time. The F1 also held the record as the fastest car in 20th century with a top speed of 240 mph, courtesy of its BMW-sourced 6.1-liter 60-degree V12 engine. What makes the F1 such a marvel when compared to its speed-seeking rivals was the fact that McLaren’s designers insisted the F1 be naturally aspirated, meaning the F1 didn’t rely on complicated turbochargers or superchargers to increase power output. What’s more, while the F1 has an official top speed of 240 mph, a prototype version was able to hit 243 mph with its rev limiter removed in 1998.
5. Koenigsegg CCX (245 mph)
Ah, the Koenigsegg CCX, the car whose name we hate to say and type but would love to drive. This Swedish speed demon can dash from 0-60 mph in just 3.2 seconds, thanks to its 90-degree V8 engine that belts out 806 hp, and can hit a top speed of 245 mph.
4. Saleen S7 Twin Turbo (248 mph)
Another supercar like the Noble M600 that (mostly) forgoes all the flashy razzle-dazzle for raw power, the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo will still turn heads but it won’t make you forget yourself the way a Pagani Zonda or Lamborghini Aventador would. That doesn’t really matter when you’re on your way to a top speed of 248 mph courtesy of a souped-up 7.0-liter Ford-sourced, twin-turbocharged V8. Like the other cars on this list, the Saleen S7 Twin Turbo knows how to pack a wallop.
3. SSC Ultimate Aero (256 mph)
With a host of European supercars commanding astronomical figures on their way to bending time and space, the SSC Ultimate Aero represents more than just another entry in mankind’s obsession with speed. It represents the good ol’ red, white, and blue as one of the few American automakers competing at this level of engineering excellence. On September 7, 2007, packing a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, the Ultimate Aero hit a top speed of 256.18 mph, and in doing so dethroned the speed kings of France, the original Bugatti Veyron, which held the “fastest car in the world” crown at 253.81 mph. USA! USA! USA!
2. Koenigsegg Agera R (260 mph)
If there was ever a doubt that Koenigsegg knew how to build four-wheeled Apollos that double as street-legal cars on the weekends, the speed-obsessed Swedes emphatically laid all doubters (haters, too) to rest with its Agera R.
Packing a 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, the Agera R held the land-speed record for a production car when, in September of 2011, it sprinted from 0-300 kmh (0-186.4 mph) in 14.53 seconds. That record was recently bested by the Hennessey Venom GT when it did the same run in 13.63 seconds. Hennessey’s record sparked some controversy, though, as the Venom GT is based off a modified Lotus Exige chassis and thus can’t truly be considered a production car. Adding even more controversy is the Agera R’s theoretical top speed, which Koenigsegg claims can hit 270 mph. However, this number has yet to be fully tested, and a top speed of 260 mph is considered the real number … for now…
1. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (267 mph)
When it comes to the fastest production car in the world, Bugatti’s Veyron has been top dog for quite some time – though not without some other Alphas nipping at its tail. The original Veyron smashed the record for fastest production with a top speed of 253 mph back in 2005 – an official record held for over 10 years by the McLaren F1. However, it was ultimately overtaken (no pun intended) by American SSC Ultimate Aero’s record breaking 256 mph run in 2007.
Accustomed to being number one – and not about to give up its title so easily to the Americans – Bugatti released the Veyron Super Sport and on July 4, 2010 no less, reclaimed the crown once again, with a Guinness World Records verified top speed of 267 mph.
Hennessey Venom GT (265 mph)
There is no denying Hennessey’s 1,244 horsepower Venom GT is powerful, perhaps obscenely so. But the discrepancy arises when judging whether or not it should be considered one of the world’s fastest “production” cars because, well … it’s not technically an original production from Texas-based Hennessey Performance Engineering. Why you ask? That’s because the Venom GT starts life as a Lotus Exige. Nevertheless, while we can argue its merit on this list, we can’t argue with its power and speed. Hennessey claims it can hit 265.7 mph, indeed making it technically the world’s fastest production car – Hennessey’s words, not ours. But wait, what’s that you say? The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport can reach a top speed of 267 miles per hour? Well that’s correct, but Hennessey argues that because Bugatti limits the speed of its production vehicles to 258 mph, the 265.7 mph Venom GT is truly the fastest “production” car. This actually caused Guinness to reevaluate and revoke the Veyron’s record but ultimately they did a 180 and gave it back. Whatever your opinion may be Venom GT or Veyron Super Sport, one thing is certain: this automotive pissing contest isn’t going to end any time soon. And you know what? We’re ok with that.
SSC Tuatara (276 mph)
Vaporware or V8-powered god of speed? That’s the question that hangs over the SSC Tuatara. According to SSC, this is the car that will defeat – without question – the Bugatti Veyron Super Sports’ record as world’s fastest production car. SSC claims a top speed of 276 mph from a 6.9-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, but right now it’s all talk as the Tuatara has yet to make it to production and some are beginning to doubt it ever will. Can SSC make it happen?
Are there any cars we missed that should have made the list? Sound off in the comments section below and while you’re at it, let us know what car from the list you’d want sitting in your garage and why. Be sure to check out our list of the world’s most expensive cars, too!