Throughout the history of automobiles, many tuners and aftermarket parts suppliers have built reliable custom and modified vehicles. While this trend is most evident in Japanese car culture, there are other specialized tuners—like Hennessey Performance—that modify American muscle cars and other exotic vehicles.
Hennessey Performance Engineering was founded by John Hennessy in 1991 and began making minor modifications to cars such as the Dodge Viper, before focusing their efforts on producing great modified versions of American muscle cars. In 2008, Mr. Hennessey founded Tuner School, an academy that teaches mechanics to tune modern performance vehicles and turn them into silly monsters. One such car is the Hennessey Exorcist, the main competitor of the Dodge Challenger Demon – hence the clever wordplay. Since becoming an internationally recognized aftermarket tuner, Hennessey has been working hard to build faster, more powerful and more capable off-road versions of the already in the form of the Velociraptor 6×6, Mammoth 1000 and Goliath 6×6.
Hennessey Performance is definitely one of the best aftermarket tuners out there, offering HPE upgrade packages for most new American performance cars. With that said, here are ten of the heaviest vehicles ever built by Hennessey Performance Engineering.
10 Trackhawk HPE1000
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a totally ridiculous car. The regular Grand Cherokee is designed to be a relatively luxury, family-oriented off-road SUV that’s very good at its specific function. However, the Trackhawk version is on a completely different level.
Chrysler’s strategy of “putting a Hellcat in everything” even extended to the GC, resulting in a whopping 707 horsepower. Hennessy then took this to a level beyond absurdity and gave the car 1,000 horsepower and about 1,000 pound-feet of torque. On top of that, Hennessey offers a two-year warranty on the Trackhawk HPE1000 should anything happen.
9 CTS-V HPE 1000
The Cadillac CTS-V is the American equivalent of the BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz E63. It had a supercharged V8 up front, an automatic transmission in the middle, and a plume of smoke where the rear tires were – a proper four-door American muscle car.
Hennessey thought this was a bit tame, as with most American V8 cars, the team gave it a tremendous amount of power. Available in both the HPE850 and HPE1000, the Hennessey CTS-V is one of the most powerful four-door cars on the planet – all while retaining Cadillac elegance.
8 Velociraptor 700 (F-250)
Hennessey is mostly known for its sporty and muscle cars/SUVs with massive power, but the company also offers modified pickup trucks. One of these is the Ford F-250. Although they don’t have great diesel truck versions, they do offer upgrades to the 7.3L Godzilla V8.
Basic Godzilla The V8s produce about 430 horsepower and 475 pound-feet, but the Hennessey version generates more than 700 horsepower and 720 pound-feet of torque, making it just as powerful as the RAM TRX. Hennessey also offers several “stages” of upgrades, which include new fenders, side rails, off-road tires, and mechanical upgrades to make the truck virtually unstoppable.
7 Velociraptor 6×6
Speaking of what’s nearly unstoppable, enter the Hennessey VelociRaptor 6×6. Since AMG decided it was cool to make a 6-wheel pickup truck, nearly every aftermarket truck tuner built their own versions using less expensive vehicles. The 6×6 Velociraptor started its life as a regular Ford F-150 Raptor, which then got some substantial modifications and improvements.
Hennessey kept his 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 twin-turbocharged engine in the engine bay but upgraded it to nearly 560 horsepower and over 620 lb-ft to help move the extra weight. As a result, it’s one of the coolest pickup trucks for sale – which also comes with a 3-year warranty with every purchase.
6 Mammoth 1000
Another huge pickup truck is the Hennessey Mammoth. The truck started out as the really silly RAM TRX with 702 hp Hellcat V8. Hennessey did their usual magic and ended up with a 1,012-horsepower, 969-lb-ft monster—the most powerful truck Hennessey has ever made.
Besides the engine upgrades, Hennessey added better tires, better suspension and off-road bumpers to show all the other vehicles how it’s done. The Stage 2 upgrade adds comfort elements such as automatic side sills, larger tires and Hennessy Embroidered headrests – luxury. Unlike the Trackhawk, the Mammoth comes with a 3-year warranty.
5 McLaren 765LT HPE1000
McLaren 720S is a great car. McLaren did its business as usual and made it even better by giving it the “Long Tail” treatment, creating a more track-focused 765LT. The 765LT produces 755 horsepower from the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, making the car hit 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds.
Well, Hennessey thought that was a little slow, so they bumped up the power to 1,000 hp, reducing the time from 0-60 mph to a more respectable 2.1 seconds. This is a pretty ridiculous feat, and even more surprising when you realize that the car is rear-wheel drive. Surprisingly, the upgrade only costs about $25,000. Granted, the 765LT starts at over $350,000, but then the upgrade is totally worth the extra money to get one of the fastest and fastest McLarens out there.
4 Venom GT
The Hennessey Venom GT was the company’s first attempt to make the fastest production car on the planet to do away with the Bugatti Veyron. The Venom GT was basically a heavily modified Lotus Elise, extended and renamed to fit the V8 engine and some huge tires.
The Venom GT is equipped with a 7.0L Chevrolet LS7 A V8, modified with two turbines, it ended up producing 1,451 horsepower and 1,287 pound-feet of torque, sending all those rampant American horses to the rear wheels only via a six-speed manual transmission. Several reviewers note that driving was fun, but it gets a little intimidating when the rear wheels lose traction at 200 mph.
3 GT500 Venom 1200
The Shelby Mustang GT500 is a great car and holds the record for the most powerful production Ford ever made. The standard car delivers 760 horsepower from its 5.2-liter supercharged engine predator V8 engine, mated to a dual-clutch automatic transmission – a first in a Mustang.
Hennessy, being Hennessy, took the GT500, replaced the supercharger, overhauled the engine a little, and installed upgraded intercoolers, better air induction systems, and a better exhaust. These improvements resulted in the GT500 Venom 1200 – a monster with 1,200 horsepower and 1,000 pound feet. These power numbers are only available when the vehicle is running on E85 or 109 octane racing fuel. However, it is rather impressive.
The Hennessey Exorcist is probably the best known Hennessey product thanks to the rivalry between GM and Chrysler. Dodge has unveiled the Challenger Demon – a streetcar that specializes in drag racing that was so good at what it was designed to do, that it was barred from competing. Fortunately, the rules have changed, and it is now allowed.
The Exorcist is a modified version of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which features a larger supercharger, an upgraded cooling system, and a revised electronic control unit. As a result, the Exorcist produces 1,000 horsepower when running on E85 fuel. Unfortunately, the Exorcist is only available with a 10-speed automatic transmission, as the 6-speed manual can’t handle the torque.
1 F5 . poison
The Venom F5 is Hennessey’s current attempt to break the production speed record on land, aiming to steal the crown from the Bugatti Chiron Super Sports 300+. This time around, the car is entirely designed and built by Hennessey themselves, which has a carbon fiber core and engine.
The 6.6-liter twin-turbo V8 produces 1,817 horsepower and 1,193 pound-feet of torque, sending power to the rear wheels only via a 7-speed manual transmission that can handle grunt. The Venom F5 is currently being tested by a Hennessey mechanic, but Mr. Hennessey himself has stated that the F5 has a claimed top speed of at least 301 mph. We’ll have to wait and see if the Venom F5 gets the crown.