Is The Race For 300mph The Last Frontier Of Road Car Pointlessness?

A handful of niche hypercar makers are chasing 300mph, but beyond the chance to boast to your rich friends I’m struggling to see the point
Is The Race For 300mph The Last Frontier Of Road Car Pointlessness?

It was the 35th US President, John F Kennedy, who said: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”. A collective challenge against your rivals pulls you and your team together; pushes you on to new heights.

I get that. It’s a noble outlook, and it was the right one when it came to pushing the world out of the ridiculousness of the Cold War. But today, when it comes to making a production car that can hit 300mph, I really don’t see the point.

Hennessey Venom F5
Hennessey Venom F5

The likes of Koenigsegg, Hennessey and SSC are chasing the number anyway, so clearly it matters to someone. The benchmark is Koenigsegg’s Agera RS, which notched a two-way average of 277.87mph on a (closed) public road late last year, peaking at 284.55mph to take the crown for the fastest production car in the world.

Chasing this obsession with top speed back through history, you could argue that it’s been a matter of bragging rights ever since the world’s second car rolled out of the shed in which it was built. That the fastest car in the world is a thing is beyond any doubt. But to specifically target 300mph? Why? Isn’t 284mph enough, given that you already need an ultra-special set of circumstances to achieve it?

SSC Tuatara
SSC Tuatara

The amount of places worldwide where you could (even theoretically) achieve 300mph in a car wearing normal tyres numbers in the low single figures. For another thing, the number of tyres that are believed to be capable of the speed currently stands at… one. And even that one can’t officially achieve the speed yet.

In a The Drive report on the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber worn by the Agera RS for its world record speed runs in November, Michelin product manager Eric Schmedding said:

“We never intended these tires to go 270 mph. But while they’re rated for much lower speeds, we also know their true capabilities are much higher.”

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Apparently the tyres were tested at an aircraft tyre-testing facility in North Carolina because the rigs could replicate much higher speeds. The Cup 2s passed the tests and gave the green light to Koenigsegg’s records, courtesy of an aramid fibre running through the tyre’s core construction that prevents it from expanding under the massive centrifugal force. Fine, then; 300mph shouldn’t be limited by a lack of tyres - or desire from niche manufacturers.

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With three such dedicated teams on the case it’s guaranteed that someone will pass the magic number at some point. I’m sure we’ll all acknowledge it and give the first people to achieve it a hearty digital pat on the back. But when it comes down to it, whether a car can do 284mph or 300mph, or even 400mph, is all kind of irrelevant.

Boasts about top speed just feel so… outdated, to me. Far more important is how much raw enjoyment a car gives you. A top speed that you can never extract from a car you potentially paid millions for isn’t a whole lot of use. In the case of the Hennessey F5, it sounds like the customer cars won’t be capable of the magic figure anyway. Of course, my opinion is probably irrelevant because I probably couldn’t even afford one of the special Michelins, let alone the whole car.

Is The Race For 300mph The Last Frontier Of Road Car Pointlessness?

When NASA finally landed on the Moon there was really no point in the Russians continuing to spend vast sums of money to achieve the same feat; they’d always have been second-best even if they’d spent longer on the surface or planted two flags instead of one.

The 300mph race will be the same. It’s the last round three-figure speed that will be physically possible by a road car on this planet, so when someone reaches it, everyone else will just be wasting their time and money on something that’s been done before. That doesn’t make it any easier to achieve, but the point – if there ever really was one – will be long gone.



Isnt it to show the engineering capabilities of the manufacturer?

09/09/2018 - 10:24 |
168 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sure, I will make millionaires want to buy their product more, but in the end, it is for pointless bragging rights.

09/09/2018 - 12:49 |
6 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Exactly, the extensive engineering required to travel at these speeds could eventually trickle down to humdrum hatchbacks. Whether it’s the tyre technology or mechanical engineering. 30 years ago the Ferrari F50 was the only car to do 200mph now any german saloon (and I suspect some hatchbacks) can do that all day long (de-restricted of course).

09/09/2018 - 23:22 |
18 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah,to prove who’s the best manufacturer regarding its engineer crew.

09/10/2018 - 19:28 |
0 | 0

Wait a minute… I see a mistake…
Is the race for 300mph IS the last frontier of road car pointlessness?
EDIT: Fixed

09/09/2018 - 10:31 |
2 | 2

well this is precisely what people said about the 200mph barrier, but nw, even a v8 sedan can hit 200mph.

so i dont see why 300mph is wrong to go for….

09/09/2018 - 10:40 |
100 | 2

Will we say that about 1000 mph in twenty years?

09/09/2018 - 12:51 |
10 | 2

koenigsegg doesnt even care about top speed, it’s the owners who cares about it, even ct does an interview about it

09/09/2018 - 10:41 |
8 | 0
Ali Mahfooz

Christian Von Koenigsegg talked about this in one of his interviews. He stated that it’s about showcasing what capabilities the engineering solutions resulted in and how a certain limit can be reached despite the tougher regulations.

So imo, it’s not pointlessness but rather the limitations of implementing such technologies anywhere at all due to economics and financial issues in certain markets.

If money wasn’t such a big issue and if the infrastructure for personal high speed transportation was accessible to everyone, then yes 300 mph would’ve mattered a lot. But because governments are stuck with the ideology that speed causes crashes, then maybe in that case, it seems pointless.

But the fact remains that these engineering solutions have resulted in creation of a product capable of withstanding extreme tolerance stresses and strains when it’s subjected to under certain circumstances. These engineering solutions could be implemented in other fields of transportation for better efficiency and saving time on travel. But once again, financial viability limit such engineering solutions to be pushed ahead.

09/09/2018 - 11:08 |
88 | 2

hypercars are a long shot away from 10,000hp and 0-500kph in sub-5 seconds

09/10/2018 - 20:58 |
0 | 0
Freddie Skeates

Do you think Chuck Yeager was thinking this when he hit Mach-1?

Also there’s quite a lot of aerodynamic and engineering science involved

09/09/2018 - 11:25 |
28 | 0
Martin Burns

Am I still the only one who sees these things as pointless?

Yes, it can do 200 like nothing but, crucially, there’s usually traffic. Living around the Miami area I see a dozen a day, ALWAYS camping in the passing lane going 20mph under the speed limit.

If the point is merely “showcasing” engineering capabilities, they sure do it… slowly.

A modded hatch or coupe will always be more fun, hate me, but I’d rather have 20 car collection of fun cars than one overpriced insurance nightmare that can’t clear even the most modest of speed bumps or driveways without a spotter (I see it EVERY day)

Long rant short: they have become pointless as roadcars, and are tacky as hell.

… would rather hear about the many awesome new road cars coming out than the “news” about pointless overpriced supercars.

09/09/2018 - 11:28 |
6 | 8

Come on, you take them out to US27. That road’s always deserted out by Weston.

09/10/2018 - 02:33 |
0 | 0
Noah 7

It’s the same as what the Bloodhound SSC people are doing pushing for 1000mph in a car. It’s about pushing and breaking the limits, doing something no one else has or can do. If you’re not first, then you’re last.

09/09/2018 - 11:44 |
16 | 0

We used to have drag races, now we have brag races.

09/09/2018 - 11:50 |
8 | 4

I mostly agree, we are at the point where pretty much any performance car (and I don’t even mean exotics) is significantly faster than realistically usable in the real world aside from some special sections of the autobahn or a 3a run in “mexico”.
Last time I went on some windy roads I really didn’t have to get out of 2nd gear and these cars are just more of the same.

09/09/2018 - 12:03 |
2 | 2



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