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Building an ultra-fast car makes no sense. But neither does writing poetry or traveling to the moon. Globe Drive columnist Peter Cheney takes a look at nine of the fastest cars that money can buy – and one that you can’t have for any price.
The Bloodhound SSC is a one-off project, designed to shatter the world land-speed record. Currently under development by a British team, the SSC is designed to hit 1,689 km/h. The SSC has three motors: A jet engine accelerates the car to 300 km/h, where a rocket motor takes over and accelerates the car through the speed of sound. The third motor is a Cosworth V-8 (normally installed in F1 cars) that is used as a high-capacity fuel pump for the rocket engine. The wheels are machined from solid aluminum, and there are no production plans for the car.
The Tuatara is the latest offering from Shelby Supercars, a tiny U.S. manufacturer that has dedicated itself to the task of building the world’s fastest production cars. The Tuatara is designed to do 444 km/h. (Its predecessor, the SSC Ultimate Aero, hit 411 km/h.) The Tuatara is powered by a 6.9-liter V-8 with twin turbos. It produces 1,350 horsepower.
Built with a lightweight carbon-fibre chassis, the One-77 is powered by a 750-horsepower, 7.3-litre V-12 motor. The car was designed to reach a top speed of 320 km/h, but hit 357 km/h in testing.
Resembling an angry wasp with a swollen thorax, the Venom GT uses a proven speed formula: small car, big engine. Built by a Texas-based specialty firm, the Venom uses the cabin and front end of a Lotus Exige, but replaces the Lotus’s four-cylinder Toyota motor with a twin-turbo 427-cubic inch V-8 that produces 1,244 horsepower. The Venom’s projected top speed is 445 km/h, and pricing starts at $1.1 million. Owners include Aerosmith frontman Steve Tyler.
The 458 has been acclaimed as one of the best-handling cars Ferrari has ever made. Although absolute top speed wasn’t the primary design focus, the 458 is no slouch; it tops out at 330 km/h. The key to its speed is an aerodynamic body shape and lots of thrust. The 4.5-litre V-8 engine produces 590 horsepower.
(Michael Probst/AP Photo)
You’d expect a car built by a legendary Formula One maker to be fast, and the McLaren MP4-12C doesn’t disappoint. It accelerates to a top speed of 333 km/h.
Built by a small-volume English manufacturer, the M600 is a unique car. The manufacturer claims a top speed of 363 km/h. (Independent tests have produced a peak of 345 km/h.)
The Bugatti Veyron Supersport Veyron has the highest verified top speed of any car in current production: 431 km/h. The Veyron achieves its spectacular speed with an 8-litre, 16-cylinder engine. At top speed, the Veyron burns 78 litres of fuel per 100 km (3.6 mpg imperial).
First shown as a concept car in 2010, the 918 Spyder can hit 330 km/h. It uses a hybrid power system that combines a gasoline-powered 580-horsepower V-8 with a pair of electric motors that add an additional 280 horsepower.
Lamborghini has a long tradition of making angular sports cars with outrageous power and license-losing speed. The Aventador keeps the faith, with 700 horsepower and a 349 km/h top end.
(Anja Niedringhaus/AP Photo)