John Hennessey reflects on being a speed pioneer and the family support, great customers and fast cars that have shaped Hennessey’s performance.
JOHANNESBURG/SEALY, TEXAS – 1991 was a great year for John Hennessey. He modified his 3000GT VR4 daily driver and competed in the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb and Nevada Open Road Challenge races.
The year continued with Hennessey setting a class record at the Bonneville Salt Flats and winning the Unlimited Class at the Silver State Classic open road race in Nevada.
Alongside modifying his car and racing, 1991 also saw John marry the love of his life, Hope, who founded the business with him the after returning from their honeymoon.
BIRTH OF AN ICON
Building a world-renowned tuning business on the foundation of strong family support, John’s company has created more than 12,000 customer cars since it was founded 30 years ago and has evolved into a global brand manufacturing its own hypercar.
“At the end of 1991, looking back at that year of motorsport, I realised I’d learnt the first rule of auto racing – if you want to make a small fortune in racing, start with a larger one! To continue my passion, I knew I’d have to find a way to pay for it. So, I thought, if Carroll Shelby and Alois Ruf could make a living by building and modifying cars then maybe I could too – that’s how our company began,” says the company founder and CEO.
With Hope, his five children and a team of more than 50 skilled colleagues, the Texas king of speed has stuck to a simple principle that too much horsepower is never enough in his mission to create cars that make people smile.
From building cars for international rock stars and world-famous athletes to claiming countless speed records, including the “World’s Fastest Car” title, the business ethos has always been to seek out the next challenge.
“Hennessey Performance is like one big family to me, and our fantastic customers are a big part of that. As we celebrate 30 years of business, I’m thankful for every customer and my whole team who’ve all contributed to us becoming a hypercar manufacturer and world-renowned high-performance vehicle tuning business,” John says.
FAST CARS, FAMOUS CUSTOMERS
Shortly after founding the company, He turned his attention to boosting the performance of the now-iconic Dodge Viper. By 1997 he achieved an important accolade with his 650hp Hennessey Viper Venom GTS being the first to break 320km/h).
Since 2006, the company’s 4800m² headquarters has been next to its test track, enabling the acceleration of its research and development, engineering and tuning business with cars like the 376km/h, twin turbo 1000hp (745kW) Ford GT and 320km/h HPE 600 Corvette C7.
By 2010, the business had built its own hypercar, the Hennessey Venom GT. Based on the chassis of a Lotus Exige, the 1 244hp (928kW) monster weighed just 1244kg and was powered by a turbocharged Hennessey V8 that set a production car Guinness World Record for the fastest 0-300km/h time (13.63 seconds) in 2013, then followed that in 2014 with another world record, becoming the fastest production car in the world with a 436km/h top speed.
Truck tuning emerged as a new customer-led trend in 2012 with the 600 horsepower Hennessey Velociraptor beginning a generation of “hypertrucks” from 1 000 horsepower supercar slayers to 6×6 conversions.
Alongside the monsters of the road, the Hennessey team continued its muscle car work with models like its 1000hp ZL1 Camaro – named The Exorcist – raising the profile of the business further.
Today, alongside producing upwards of 500 customer cars a year, the Hennessey team is focused on the all-new 100% bespoke Hennessey Venom F5 hypercar. The car boasts 1 355kW from its Hennessey-built 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and targets a top speed exceeding 500km/h.
In its 30th year, Hennessey sees the launch of the F5 as a rebirth for the brand and the beginning of an exciting new future. Looking ahead, Hennessey plans a series of exciting models, built on the same 100% bespoke basis as the F5.
Here’s a selection of some of the bespoke vehicles that John Hennessey and his team have created: