“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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Bugatti Veyron was a monumental feat of engineering, a supercar whose performance was so marvelous that Top Gear presenter James May compared it to the automobile equivalent of the Concorde airplane. The Chiron has now taken the torch from the Veyron.
Named for French racing driver Louis Chiron, the latest Bugatti 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 isn’t a mere speedster but a comprehensive luxury vehicle as well. In addition to 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. Bugatti will end production after making the 500th example. Each one costs close to $3 million.
In 2016, Croatian firm Rimac Automobili got the world’s attention with the Concept One, an electric supercar so potent it nearly killed The Grand Tour’s Richard Hammond. At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, the company unleashed an even faster successor: The Concept Two.
Everything about the Concept Two is absurd. Rimac claims its four electric motors produce a combined 1,914 hp and 1,696 lb-ft of torque, and that the Concept Two will do 0 to 60 mph in 1.85 seconds. That would make it the quickest-accelerating production car in the world — electric or otherwise. Top speed is a claimed 258 mph, and Rimac claims the 120-kilowatt-hour battery pack will provide 404 miles of range on the New European Driving Cycle testing standard.
No one will be able to verify these claims until 2020, however, which is when Rimac plans to start production. The company only plans to make 150 cars (including some for the U.S.), with pricing expected to be somewhere north of $1 million. But Rimac recently scored an investment from Porsche, so it’s possible the company’s technology will make it into (slightly) more affordable cars in the future.
Briefly, the might of the Volkswagen Group and the prestige of the Bugatti name were bested by a car company no one had ever heard of.
For a moment, the SSC 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, which creates a purer driving experience for those with talent, and a scenario for certain death for those without it.
Aston Martin teamed up with Red Bull Racing to develop the Valkyrie, a supercar that benefits from technology fine-tuned in the Formula 1 paddock. Though the final version hasn’t been released yet, we know it will use a mid-mounted, 6.5-liter V12 engine tuned to make 900 hp. That’s an impressive stat on its own, but the 12-cylinder is part of a hybrid powertrain in this application. Aston predicts the Valkyrie’s total output will lie in the vicinity of 1,130 hp, enough for a 250-hp top speed. Check back to see if the production figure lives up to those predictions.
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 bona fide 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, Tesla founder Elon Musk claims the Roadster will boast a range of 620 miles. We’ll see if Tesla can walk the walk when it starts production of the Roadster.
Despite its name, the Milan Red hails not from Italy but from Austria. It’s made by newcomer Milan Automotive, looks like it was designed by aliens, and reportedly costs $2.3 million. But Milan does offer some compelling reasons to drop that much money on a car from a company no one has heard of.
Named after the Red Kite, a large bird of prey, the Milan Red is powered by a 6.2-liter quad-turbocharged V8, which produces a claimed 1,307 hp and 1,303 lb-ft of torque. Milan Automotive claims its creation will do 0 to 62 mph in 2.47 seconds, and reach a top speed of 249 mph.
Currently, CEO Markus Fux runs the company, which is appropriate given the former driver raced in the International GT Open and ADAC GT Masters series. He won’t have to oversee a long production run, though, as Milan plans to make just 99 copies of the Red.
Among performance addicts, the Saleen S7 is a 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 life cycle, Saleen debuted the S7 Twin Turbo, which brought the car’s performance to near comical levels.
With 750 hp on tap, the S7 could hit 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds before smashing through 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.
Swedish supercar builder Koenigsegg briefly held the “world’s fastest” title before being bested by the original Bugatti Veyron. Its CCR reached 242 mph at Italy’s Nardo Ring in 2005.
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. But despite its impressive statistics, the CCR’s moment in the spotlight was as brief as its claim on the world record. It was soon beat by Koenigsegg’s own CCX, and then by the current Agera.
The F1 is more than just a former world’s-fastest car. With its carbon-fiber body, gold-lined engine bay, 6.1-liter BMW M V12, and center driver’s seat, it just might be the coolest car ever made.
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.
No sane person would ever call the Pagani Huayra tame. With an AMG-sourced biturbo V12 pushing less than 3,000 pounds, the Italian dynamo is the definition of a beast. The formula can always be improved, though, and at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Pagani proved it by debuting the Huayra BC.
Lighter and more powerful than the standard Huayra, the BC’s engine was massaged to produce 789 hp, while total curb weight was slashed down to a paltry 2,645 lbs. That’s effectively the same weight as the latest Honda Civic Coupe with five times the power. It should come as no surprise that the BC’s top speed is rated at a ridiculous 238 mph.