It’s time to get excited – 2020 looks like it’s going to be a big year for hypercar specialists Bugatti and Hennessey.
With the holiday season a distant spec on the horizon, and the January blues all but over, we’re now entering that infuriatingly impatient period of anticipation and apprehension over what supercar heavyweights are planning to deliver to the Paddock over the next 12 months.
It’s no secret that car manufacturer’s like to keep their cards close to their chests. Bugatti, the French marque famed for honing the world’s most powerful and coveted luxury supercars, is keeping to that code. Its President, Stephan Winkelmann, remains stringently tight-lipped over its 2020 plans but promises there will be “a few interesting surprises” along the way.
Hopefully, that means developing and elaborating on a largely successful 2019. Last year marked the 110th anniversary since Ettore Bugatti started creating formidable automobiles and the company celebrated in a way that only Bugatti could. Exclusively decadent yet impossibly expensive Edition models such as ‘La Voiture Noire’, ‘Centodieci’ and ‘Divo’ were launched while seemingly-elusive performance records were smashed.
The innovative maker continued to stretch the physical boundaries of automotive engineering when, in August, its Chiron Super Sport 300+ broke through the magical limit of 300mph to set a new albeit unofficial world record of 304.773mph (490.484 km/h) for a road-legal car. Quite simply, an astonishing feat of ferocity and power more likely to be found in supernatural spaceships than something you could drive to the supermarket.
Will the Divo, expected to leave Bugatti’s Molsheim headquarters later this year, continue the marque’s obsession for revolutionary perfection? Interest has skyrocketed: the small series of 40 cars has already sold out before its ‘official’ world premiere.
However, whatever magic Bugatti has up its sleeve for 2020, that speed record could already be under threat following Hennessey’s latest announcement.
Following two years of intense development, America’s high-performance engineering specialists revealed the all-new carbon fiber chassis that will serve as foundation to its Venom F5 hypercar – a monster of a machine designed, engineered and built to reach a top speed of over 500 km/h (310.7+ mph).
Hennessey has form when it comes to usurping Bugatti speed records. After the Veyron Super Sport blitzed to an official world record 267.8 mph (431.072 km/h) in 2010, the Venom GT – the Venom F5’s predecessor – reached a staggering but ultimately unofficial 270.49 mph (435.31) four years later, before Koenigsegg’s 277.87 mph (447.19 km/h) Agera RS finally broke Bugatti’s hold in 2017.
Hennessey’s new revelation is frightening. Built entirely from carbon fiber, the ground-up design chassis weighs a total of 86 kilograms (190 lbs) – about the same weight as NBA star Steph Curry. Company founder and CEO John Hennessey claims it is like looking at a piece of art, “like a piece of automotive jewelry that’s built to run at 500+ km/h.”
Its rigidity measures at 52,000 newton meters per degree (38,353 lb-ft torque per degree) and the precision frame will house a new, bespoke and specially-developed 1,817 bhp 6.6-liter engine branded ‘Fury’. Three Venom F5’s are currently in production since its initial reveal two years’ ago, while testing is likely to begin sometime between April and June.
Covers will officially come off the $1.8 million-priced Venom F5 at its scheduled official debut at The Quail during Monterey car week in August. A total of 24 models are being produced – 12 for the American market and 12 for European markets – and the marque has already claimed the U.S.-based allocation is close to being sold out.
Regardless of where your loyalties lie in the motoring world, both Bugatti and Hennessey’s developments will no doubt set impeccable standards again this year. And with a plethora of exciting new supercars to come, such as the McLaren Elva and Koenigsegg Jesko, expect them to be closely matched.
Competition is growing as cogs continue to turn silently behind the curtains. But however impatient we may be, you just know it’s going to be worth the wait once the cards are finally laid on the table.