1000 BHP Super Cars – Performance on a Grand Scale


Has massive bhp output become normal?

Everything is getting bigger these days: skyscrapers, waistlines, gas bills, commercial breaks on TV, NHS waiting times, television screens…and vehicle power outputs.

Let’s think about the last item on that list. To more seasoned petrolheads, it doesn’t seem so very long ago that the 137 bhp pumped out by the VW Golf GTI 16V was enough to see it sit at the top of the hot hatch power charts. But it’s a different story now: these days that sort of power output would probably be regarded as barely enough for a milk float.

It’s a similar tale as you move upmarket, where the top of the range executive sporting saloons often have more power at their disposal than Formula One cars of the 1970s and early 1980s. And as for supercars, well let’s just say that the 211 bhp of the Ferrari 308 GTBi pales into insignificance in comparison to the 661 bhp produced by its present-day descendant, the 488 GTB. But even the 488 is apt to get sand kicked in its pretty face by the ever-increasing number of cars that can boast of having 1000 bhp or more.

SSC bhp

Officially, the first 1000 bhp production car was SSC North America’s* Ultimate Aero of 2006, whose power output of 1046bhp could take it to a top speed of 256mph. There are those, however, who say that the Bugatti Veyron achieved the mythical 1000bhp figure a year earlier, its actual power output being at least 20 bhp higher than the 987 bhp with which it was officially credited.

Credit: Softeis

But whilst that was a big deal back in the mid-noughties, the game has moved on somewhat and 1000 bhp no longer represents the state of the hypercar art. Moreover, those who fancy having a grand or more in brake horsepower at the beck and call of their right foot now have a number of options to choose from.

Let’s look at some of them.

Remember the Veyron? Well, it’s old hat now. Bugatti’s current offering is the Chiron, a 1479bhp two-seater that’s said to have a top speed (with the restrictor disabled) of just under 290mph – making it just the very thing for a quick trip down to the shops to scoop up some nibbles before Match of the Day starts. Mind you, with a basic price of over £2,500,000 you might just have to economise a bit on the nibbles!

Credit: Andrew Basterfield

Over in the USA, SSC North America has been in production hiatus since the last example of its most recent hypercar, the 1300bhp Ultimate Aero XT, was delivered in 2015. Although the Washington State-based company showed a pre-production example of its planned replacement for the Ultimate Aero series, the 1350 bhp Tuatara, in 2011, funding issues have delayed its introduction.

SSC Tuatara
Credit: J.Smith831

Further south, Texas-based Hennessey Performance Engineering made the leap from high-end tuning company to hypercar manufacturers with the introduction of the Venom GT in 2010. Based on the Lotus Exige, the Venom GT delivered a 1244 bhp punch, enough to take it to a top speed of 270 mph.

Hennessey Venom 1000 bhp
Credit: Axion23

The manufacturing arm of the company may have changed its name to Hennessey Special Vehicles but its commitment to producing hypercars most certainly has not; the company’s next offering, the Venom F5, has an output of 1600 bhp and, if Hennessey’s claims hold up (and, frankly, there’s no reason to think otherwise), will become the first production car to have a top speed in excess of 300mph. Production of the F5, which will be limited to 24 cars, is due to commence next year. And if you’re lucky enough to be allowed to buy one then you can expect your wallet to be lighter to the tune of about £1.2 million.

Credit: Alexander Migl

If you’d rather buy European but don’t fancy a Chiron then you might be tempted by the Koenigsegg Regera – if you can get your hands on one, that is. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015, the Regera is the latest in a line of increasingly powerful hypercars from the Swedish manufacturer. But there’s one key difference between the Regera and its siblings: it features hybrid technology, the company’s tried and trusted 5.0 twin-turbo V8 being augmented by three electric motors. The result is a 1500 bhp car that can accelerate from 0 to 250mph in around 20 seconds. But with the entire production run of 80 cars having been pre-sold, getting your hands on one won’t be easy even if you have a spare couple of million pounds at your disposal.

Credit: Koenigsegg Automotive AB

But if you find the thought of going hybrid tantalising, why not go the whole hog and buy an electric hypercar? That way, you can do your bit for the environment whilst passing through it at an impressive rate of knots.

Croatian manufacturer Rimac was the first company to offer a 1000bhp electric car for sale. First shown in 2011, the Rimac Concept One trumped many of its petrol-engined rivals by producing 1224 bhp from its four electric motors. Eight Concept Ones were built, all finding homes at a price of around £676,000 each, plus two of the lighter and more powerful (1384 bhp) Concept S models.

Credit: Rimac Automobili

Although the Concept One drew praise from those who tested it, it’s probably best known in the UK for being the vehicle that Richard Hammond crashed whilst filming a segment for The Grand Tour at the Hemberg hillclimb in Switzerland last June. Although Hammond escaped from the crash (with a fractured knee to show for his troubles), the Concept One fared rather less well.

Rimac’s next all-electric hypercar, the C_Two, is due to enter production in 2020. And with a claimed power output of 1914 bhp and a rumoured price tag of just under £1.5 million, it represents a significant step up from its predecessors.

Credit: Rimac Automobili

For many, though, the real game-changer may come next year. That’s when Chinese-American company Lucid Motors hopes to introduce its first car, the luxury Air sedan. With twin front and rear motors, the most powerful version of the Air is expected to just about break the 1000bhp barrier. And with an optimal range of about 400 miles between charges and a projected price of around £130,000 it promises to deliver clean horsepower without, ahem, cleaning out your wallet.

Credit: Smnt

But buying an off-the-peg hypercar isn’t the only option available to those in search of serious horsepower. Tuning companies all across the globe have produced one-off, 1000+bhp versions of some very unlikely cars – such as the VW Golf (Mark 1 and Mark 2), Nissan Patrol and Toyota Hiace – as well as more predictable candidates like the Nissan GT-R and the Audi RS6.

The other possibility is to buy a new car that’s been re-engineered and upgraded by a top-end tuning company, such as New Jersey-based Specialty Vehicle Engineering. Founded by renowned drag racer Ed Hamburger, SVE produces high-performance versions of current GM models, including the Yenko/SC Supercharged 1000HP Stage II Camaro. This begins life as a Camaro SS 1LE that offers a healthy 455bhp from its LT1 engine, but by the time that SVE’s engineers have finished working their magic the power output has more than doubled to 1000 bhp.

SVE Camaro 1000bhp
Credi: Specialty Vehicle Engineering

As you might expect, this doesn’t come cheap; indeed, SVE’s mechanical and other upgrades cost more than the purchase price of the car. But even so, the current on-the-road cost of around £78,500.00 (in the USA) still means that it’s a fairly inexpensive way to join the 1000bhp club. And it even comes with a warranty!

There are at least two more things that can be guaranteed: the hunt for evermore power will continue, and the number and variety of 1000 bhp cars will continue to grow for as long as the legislators permit.

*Then known as Shelby SuperCars Inc.