Hennessey Performance Turns Everyday Rides Into Supercars

By Trevor Dorchies | September 05, 2011
For a base price of $31,070, you can be the proud owner of a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 1 SS with a 426-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 engine. For most people, even enthusiasts, a sport coupe with that much horsepower would be plenty. But for a select few, there's no such thing as too much horsepower, and there are plenty of companies willing to cater to their desires. John Hennessey is the founder and namesake of Hennessey Performance Motorsports, a company built on the age-old principle: Speed costs…how fast you wanna go? As a premier aftermarket performance company, Hennessey Performance Motorsports customers can hand their Camaros over and they'll tack on the owner's choice of seven different performance packages that would make any piece of pavement tremble.
While everyday vehicles like the Camaro, Audis and even Cadillacs can be customized for more power and performance, Hennessy's specialty is something you wouldn't expect to be packing a wallop: the diminutive Lotus Exige. Hennessey modifies the Exige, ditching the original Toyota-sourced four-cylinder engine with a monstrous 1200 horsepower supercharged V-8. The company starts with a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, the most powerful Corvette ever thanks to its 638-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It then roughly doubles the horsepower and stuffs it behind the driver's compartment in the Lotus. Hennessey has said the Venom GT can reach speeds of 267 mph, four miles-per-hour faster than the world's fastest production car, the Bugatti Veyron.
Originally operating only out of its facility near Houston, Texas, Hennessey Motorsports recently opened its newest facility in Irvine, Calif. To commemorate the new facility, Hennessey held an open house showcasing cars like the Camaro, Cadillac CTS-V wagons and coupes and Dodge Chargers that push the limits of street legality. President John Hennessey was on hand and took some time to field some questions from Automotive.com. "A lot of people look at the website but a lot of people come to California for something whether it's vacation, the nice weather, going to the Rose Bowl, it's neat to have a presence here because we'll appeal to people in the region but sooner or later people will come here for anything."
Besides the aforementioned Camaro, Charger, CTS-V and Lotus, Hennessey offers customization on everyday vehicles such as the Chevy Tahoe and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Vehicles can be tailored at both the Texas headquarters and at the new Irvine location, where a multitude of upgrades can be performed.
"We have a 36,000 square foot shop with about 30 employees, we build and ship week in and week out between five and eight cars per week," said Hennessey. "We have 143 acres; we have our own drag strip all on the same property. That's our core operation (near Houston)." How does this process all begin? After paying a visit to Hennessey's web site, serious buyers will visit one of the facilities to further explore options for their vehicle. "They get a chance to go for a test drive in one of our cars, and at that point if they're serious and they want more performance they almost always say 'when can I schedule my car, this is what I want to do,'" said Hennessey. The Camaro, for example, has several packages offered with the most outrageous being the HPE1000 Twin Turbo upgrade, which directs 1000 hp to the pavement. That's quite an upgrade from what comes under the hood as a stock vehicle. For the serious vehicle owner who has some expendable cash, Hennessey Performance Motorsports is an alternative to add some flair to an everyday car. Have you had any custom work done to your vehicle? Tell us about it below in the comment section. Photo Credit: Trevor Dorchies and Jason Davis