Hennessey unveils 1200bhp Elise-based supercar

Hennessey Performance has officially unveiled its new Venom GT, the twin-turbocharged V8 supercar based on the Lotus Elise.

The combination of a British chassis and American powerplant (the engine is from the Corvette ZR1) instantly brings to mind the AC Cobra, and the Venom certainly has the figures to live up to such a billing.

Installing GM's 6.2-litre V8 in the standard Elise proved impossible so the chassis has been significantly modified and strengthened to accept the engine, but even in its base form the car produces 725bhp and a sub-three-second 0-60mph time.

For those who prefer their performance on the brutal side of scary, Hennessey will produce two more variants, developing 1,000bhp and 1,200bhp respectively. The top speed for all versions will be in excess of 200mph.

Like the standard Elise, all that grunt will be delivered to the road through the rear wheels, albeit through a new six-speed gearbox. The American manufacturer is promising a programmable traction control system to keep the Venom on the road, along with fully-adjustable suspension and an active rear wing.

Despite the car's epic performance, the Venom should not be mistaken for a track-special. John Hennessey, head of the American company, was at pains to explain the (extreme) thinking behind the modern-day Cobra.

"I wanted to have a road-legal car with air conditioning and satellite radio that had a power-to-weight ratio that is greater than just about every race car short of a Formula One car."

I wanted a car that could be taken to Cars and Coffee and be parked with a Pagani Zonda on one side and a Bugatti Veyron on the other. And the entire crowd of car guys would be looking at my car instead of the other two."

Rumour has it that the Anglo-American bruiser might be making its UK debut at the Goodwood festival, but it probably isn't worth bringing your chequebook – the Venom GT will start at around £450,000, and only ten will be made each year.

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