“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. English novelist Aldous Huxley was right about speed being the only truly modern sensation, but he left out the part about how much fun it is.
These 15 cars are more than just fun — 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 selection to those with claimed top speeds that have been generally recognized as legitimate by the automotive media and sanctioning groups.
At a glance
|Hennessey Venom F5||301 mph (claimed)|
|SSC Tuatara||300 mph (claimed)|
|Koenigsegg Agera RS||278 mph|
|Hennessey Venom GT||270 mph|
|Bugatti Veyron Super Sport||268 mph|
|Bugatti Chiron||261+ mph (claimed)|
|Rimac Concept Two||258 mph (claimed)|
|SSC Ultimate Aero||256 mph|
|Aston Martin Valkyrie||250 mph (claimed)|
|Tesla Roadster||250 mph (claimed)|
|Milan Red||249 mph (claimed)|
|Saleen S7 Twin Turbo||248 mph|
|Koenigsegg CCR||242 mph|
|McLaren F1||241 mph|
|Pagani Huayra BC||238 mph|
1. 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 a 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 smashed 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. 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.
2. SSC Tuatara (300 mph, claimed)
Shelby SuperCars (SSC) has nothing to do with Carroll Shelby of Cobra fame, but it did briefly hold top-speed bragging rights with its Ultimate Aero, which maxed out at 256 mph in 2007 (see below). The Ultimate Aero’s successor has been in the works for some time, but SSC is finally ready to unleash it.
With the Tuatara, SSC is aiming for 300 mph. To achieve that, the new supercar uses a 5.9-liter supercharged V8 of SSC’s own design. The monster motor produces a claimed 1,750 hp on E85 ethanol, or 1,350 hp on 91-octane gasoline. That power is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automated transmission. The Tuatara weighs 2,750 pounds dry, and SSC claims it is more aerodynamic than rivals such as the Hennessey Venom F5, Bugatti Chiron, and Koenigsegg Agera, boasting a drag coefficient of 0.27.
SSC will build just 100 Tuataras at a factory in West Richland, Washington. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2019, by which time the Tuatara may have already been crowned the new top-speed champion.
3. 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 yet. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 had 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.