Hennessey Venom GT: The 725bhp Lotus Elise

John Hennessey is the modern-day Carroll Shelby. And while Shelby may have one foot in the grave, it's obvious that the Texas-based tuner is stepping up to take over where ol' Shel left off
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For one thing, HPE is perhaps the most reputable tuner when it comes to extracting huge, reliable horsepower out of domestic cars (along with a few foreigners, like HPE’s Nissan GT-R “Godzilla“.)

Read about the new and improved 1500bhp Venom GT2 for 2014

They’ll sell you a Camaro with a 725bhp tweaked LS9 supercharged V8 engine out of the ZR-1, and it’s such a clean conversion that an OBD scanner will have no problem pulling codes.  Oh, and it’s got a warranty.  How about a Cadillac CTS-V that will do 186mph in the standing mile?  Or maybe a 1000+bhp twin-turbocharged Dodge Viper?  A Grand Cherokee SRT-8 that runs high ten’s in the quarter mile with a twin-turbo 426cid Hemi?  No problem!

Check out the video of the Hennessey Venom GT in action

But all of these tweaked production cars pale in comparison to John’s latest brainchild, which has been in the works for almost as long as I can remember.  Introducing the Hennessey Venom GT, a (mostly) bespoke mid-engine carbon-fibre supercar powered by an obscenely powerful GM LS9 motor.  The basic ingredients are this: take  one flyweight mid-engine Lotus Elise, which normally has a 190bhp Toyota engine, mix with equal parts tuned LS9; stretch, poke, and slam, and what do you have?  A 2,400lb mid-engined carbon-fibre rocketship with a 725bhp V8 as the base engine. Let me reiterate: a Lotus Elise with 725bhp.

Now, as far as the Hennessey – Shelby comparison goes, it makes a lot of sense.  Shelby spent a lot of time in the 80′s making Turbo Mopars go really fast, and these days Hennessey spends a lot of time making boring domestics like the Lincoln MKS go really fast.  (How fast?  Hennessey’s MKS MaxB00st runs 13.08s in the 1/4 mile with minimal bolt-ons and ECU tweaking.)  But going back even further, to the start of Shelby: the Cobra was, at it’s core, a lightweight British chassis stuffed full of a gigantic American V8 (Ford 260′s, 289′s, and later 427′s.)  The Venom GT is the exact same thing, only brought up to modern times: a tiny British chassis mated to an epic American V8.

The regular Venom GT (which is expected to clock in around $600k) uses the same engine as HPE’s versions of the Camaro, CTS-V, and ZR-1: an LS9 (6.2L supercharged V8) gets a larger intercooler, bigger injectors, a smaller supercharged drive pulley and larger crank pulley for more boost, and intake and exhaust modifications. The changes are good for a whoppping 725bhp and 741lb-ft of torque (at 2,500rpm!) on 91 octane pump gas.

Read about the new and improved 1500bhp Venom GT2 for 2014

If that much power in a 2,400lb car isn’t insane enough for you, Hennessey has two other engine choices to wet your whistle.  There’s a twin-turbocharged LS9 designed to run on 93 octane that makes 1,000bhp and 900lb-ft, and if you really aren’t concerned with your lifespan there’s a 109-octane race-gas version of that motor with 1,200bhp and 1,100lb-ft.  I’d imagine that much power is largely academic in an Elise, but who knows?

At this point the question is, what’s been done to keep this thing pointed in a straight line?  Well, the basic Elise body/chassis is lengthened, widened, and stiffened at the Lotus factory in England before being shipped to Texas.

The carbon-fibre widebody was developed using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamic) testing to provide maximum downforce at speed along with the adjustable front and rear spoilers. The suspension is fully adjustable, and 15″ carbon-ceramic brakes with 6 piston front/4 piston rear rotors bring things to a halt, hopefully in time.

The Ricardo 6-speed manual transmission has a driver-adjustable traction control system with integrated launch control so you don’t spin around backwards when you punch the gas.  And finally, each Venom GT will come with free admission to a driver training course so that you’re not totally in over your head.

Check out the video of the Hennessey Venom GT in action

Hennessey expects to build approximately 10 Venom GT’s a year, and there are already four orders. While it’s certainly unusual (and certainly the world’s meanest-looking Lotus), the prospect of a 1,000+bhp V8 in a Lotus Elise is hard to ignore. I have no doubt the man will sell every one his company wants to assemble, even at a half-million plus price tag.

Look for the official debut of the Venom GT later this year, possibly at Pebble Beach.

Read about the new and improved 1500bhp Venom GT2 for 2014

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  • inigo

    this thinks just shouldnt happen, the lotus elise is the ultimate anti-supercar. i just wonder why would any one do that atrocity???

  • Cody

    Good ol’ HPE, taking a V8, slapping a turbo or two on it, and charging at least 100 grand for their hard work. 600k for a Lotus with a v8? Great idea guys, love the car, but for 600k I’d say you guys are crazy. That car is around 40k stock. Why does a V8 conversion cost 560 thousand dollars?!

    • Paul

      Hmm someone hasn’t got a brain lol its easy to get 1000+ up from an engine you can buy what you need for 40-50k the difficult part is keeping that power from snapping the clutch driveshaft axle chassis etc and good luck telling lotus to custom build a tweaked exige body for you. That’s what they get paid for smartie besides if you think you’re smart enough to engineer a 1200hp car on your own go ahead I believe that’s called cleansing the gene pool.

  • Yury

    Just a slight correction: that’s not the body of the Elise but of the Exige (http://www.lotuscars.com/exige_s240.html)

  • lolwut

    Cody, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about do you? Just the custom carbonfiber body would cost around the car’s stock pricetag, let alone spending the money to develop the aerodynamics and design it. Not to mention almost every part (moving or not) in the whole car has to either be replaced, or reinforced to handle 1000bhp without snapping apart at the slightest feather of throttle. I haven’t even scratched the surface of how wrong you are to say that is is JUST a “V8 conversion”.

  • Jimmy Johnson

    Maybe it’ll handle better than the POS Hennessy thought he could create from the Viper.

  • Brandon

    Cody I don’t think you understand everything that was put into this car, it’s far more than just a conversion to a large bore v8 (which in itself was substantial as far as body reworking is concerned)

    They lengthened the body, probably gave it wider, sportier tires. Gave it larger breaks, increase down force from the aerodynamics of the car. As well a host of other improvements to make the car stable. Worth 600k? Who knows, but this took a lot of engineering to transform a car with a 190 hp toyota engine, into a beast that can sustain hp up to 1000.

  • BEn

    im thinking the completely redesigned, lengthened, and 100% carbon fiber body may have something to do with the price tag. along with the ginormo brakes and other accessories that would need to be added on to support such a monstrous engine. it would be nice if i could afford it, but i like it anyway

  • fga

    The hood reminds me of a Need for Speed game.

  • BigT

    This thing looks like the batmobile!!!

  • pat

    find something better and more productive to do with your money than this car. this is a shining example of overindulgence

  • http://motorcarenthusiast.com Kevin

    Well, I’m not a big fan of Hennessey being compared to Shelby. I think the only person that stands out as an equal to Carroll Shelby is Enzo Ferrari. And while I respect the achievements and technological advancements that were put into this vehicles, $600K is crazy. Regardless of whether or not the price tag is justified. Especially considering with $600K you could easily furnish your garage with a whole evolution of 911′s. But whatever floats your boat I guess. Whoever buys this thing is the person that’s gotta tell their friends they paid $600K for a Lotus Exige. I don’t care if the thing fly’s, float’s or shoot missiles, that’s a lot of coin for something that costs $45K out of the factory.

  • Dan

    I have seen lotus’s with maybe 20,000 in upgrades, and lots of suspension work that would run circles around this thing for 1/10th the cost. A cool idea but there is no way in hell that I would even consider something like that if I had the money. You could by a Zr1 and put 400,000 into it for the same price, now that would be a super car.

  • Dylan

    I think I just jizzed in my pants.

  • lolwut

    Dan = redneck, doesnt know shit about cars

  • f1_nut

    awesome rework
    My VW R32 is overkill here in NYC.
    I could never own that car here. :(
    As it would look pretty sitting in traffic or dodging potholes.


  • Max

    1200hp and 1100lb-ft torque?? You would never be able to make that much power in a car that light stick to the road surely? Either the Traction Control would just go mental trying to stop you spinning out when pulling off or you just sit there spinning untill your tires exploded. Merc did a ‘Black’ range of there SLR cars with 1000 torgue and they had to go back and drop it to 750 just so the thing would be able to pull away without destroying itself.

  • Shelbi W

    i think i just fell in love…

  • Josh

    Hennessey being compared to Shelby is laughable. Almost as laughable as the price tag to this car. Almost.

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  • elise

    Hennessey comparable to Shelby?!? Do a quick google search for “Hennessey scams” and tell me what you come up with.

    If you send this man a car or a check you will never see it again.

  • http://www.qtorrents.com Qtorrents

    600k is a bit overboard. Also I do agree with other posters here about the comparison to Shelby being laughable. It’s like comparing fruits to dairy products. None-the-less, Hennesey is definitely a force to reckon with and he deserves our respect.

  • Jim

    What amazes me about this car is the pile of ignorant posts it evokes. Not one of us has driven the car, and only a few have ever driven/ridden in anything close to it. Yet here are all these “experts” badmouthing the car. If you ever got to drive/ride in this car, I predict you would be speechless. So do us all a favor, and become speechless in advance! This is an amazing car!

  • http://www.highperformancejdm.com jdm engines

    That is one sexy car. I think Batman should consider this as is next ride.

  • http://www.hotmail.com richard

    my fiat 124 sport does the quarter in 9.13 seconds!! suck on that!!!!!!!!

  • Ham&Cheese

    I don’t know. $600000. That’s about as much as a Mclaren F1. Can it be that good?

  • itscalledabrain

    The ronin lotus elise with the supercharger and turbo combo puttin down 580 hp would probably hold its own against this thing. One probably more traction, two its got some nice tall gears to keep the power band manageable, and three it was a 45k car that the guy put 40k into and it’s incredible and seems a lot more practical for the track, street, or pocket book.

  • http://www.nycarlease.com Lease Guy

    I think Ronin did more than 40k worth of upgrading but yea, take an Elige and put 1/6th of this price tag and you could be in it’s range. Save the top speed and amazing sounds of the twins on an LS9.

  • http://www.rideprestige.com Silvertongue62

    The question that i have is how controllable is the 725 brake horsepower?

  • ManofSteel

    Early reports tell us this car handles poorly on the track. I’m an Elise owner, consider this a “FrankenLotus”, but find it exciting that Hethel would play along and help Hennessy produce the car. When you watch videos of the car it DOES make your heart race at the idea of driving it…

  • RRM

    What a lot of leg-humping. No doubt it will be an amazing car, but with a lump in the back it isn’t a little lightweight lotus any more, I would expect performance and handling to be in the same sort of ballpark as all of the other carbonfibre + big horsepower supercars that are around at the moment…

    • http://www.saabsnaab.com James

      Just based on power to weight ratios I’d say the twin turbo version of the venom gt has most everything else covered up. Build quality and attention to detail may be another story, judging on hpe’s past work. And they’re not the first people to stick a huge engine in an Elise chassis, remember the Lotus Esthi that evo featured a few years back? 2g elise with a wide body kit and a 440bhp audi 2.7t v6 from the b5 s4? Stuffing huge engines in light cars doesn’t always make them worse, just different.

  • Justin Williams

    I was looking to build my own car with a tube chassis, Toyota twin turbocharged V-8, carbon fiber shell of that 4 Qtr.miles fast and slideways. Still you would have to spend that much on school just to build one that looks like its doing 300mph just sitting still.

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  • http://www.lotussport.org ronin exige

    Hey guys I’m putting down 680 whp now and Hennessey is afraid to bring his car up for a little canyon run to see how well he can stand up to a real Lotus….
    PS, I have no idea how much I’ve spent on my R$D since I lie to my wife and toss the bills…. :-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2734772 James

      That’s how it’s done! Where are you located? Interested in a feature?

      • http://www.lotussport.org ronin exige

        LA Ca.

  • Erick

    thats some hardcore shit like to see it my self

  • Derrick

    i believe this car can beat the bugatti veyron


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