Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India. Cars, bikes, and everything fast are his passion, and he writes about them on many sites.
When it comes to the fastest cars in the world, we all know how the top speed baton keeps changing hands between the Bugatti, Koenigsegg and the Hennessey. In the future, we may even have electric supercars at the top spot. What is interesting is the pace at which the top spot gets traded, lately. Gone are the days when the fastest car remained fastest for five years or more. Now, the time at the top has reduced to lesser than two years.
I am sure readers will get to see that as we discuss the fastest cars in the world since 1980. We will start with the present and go back to the past. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen.
SSC Tuatara's Claimed Top Speed Video
Jerod Shelby's Statement
1. Bugatti Chiron
As mentioned earlier, Bugatti, Koenigsegg and Hennessey were trading the top spot faster than ever, and here we have one more topper – the Bugatti Chiron. The Chiron did a top speed of 304 mph and is the first car to break the 300 mph barrier. While most of the world was expecting the Hennessey to break the barrier first, Bugatti stole the thunder. So, history will kindly remember the Bugatti for shattering the 300 mph barrier.
- Redline: 304.77 mph or 490.68 km/hr
- Standstill to 60: in 2.1 seconds [Claimed]
- Power: 1600 hp
- Period at the top: August 2019 onwards
The Chiron was piloted by factory test driver Andy Wallace, who drove a slightly modified 1600 hp beast into the record books. Since there was a slight upgrade, Bugatti will retail it as a special edition. After all, it is a record requirement that the production model does the run.
The run took place at the Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany. The 8.8 km straight was where the Bugatti broke the record. Andy felt that the car had not topped and was still accelerating when he lifted off the throttle. That said, even this speed was good enough, and now it is for the Koenigsegg and Hennessey to respond.
Here's the Record Run:
Despite the great moment, Bugatti president, Stephan Winkelmann, has stated that Bugatti will no longer go for records and will focus on the other aspects of the car; which means that Bugatti may not be participating in any of the future race to the top. So, it's now for the Koenigsegg and Hennessey to fight among themselves. But, history will still remember Bugatti for getting there first.
304 mph is one crazy achievement!!
2. Koenigsegg Agera RS
Just when Bugatti was transitioning from the Veyron era to Chiron, and was hoping to keep the title of fastest car, the Koenigsegg Agera RS came to spoil the party. Bugatti had kept the top spot for the longest time of any company before Koenigsegg ended its reign. To add insult to injury, they did it with an existing owner’s car and not a fresh one from the production line.
After Bugatti's Chiron, driven by F1 Champ Juan Pablo Montoya, did 0-400-0 kmph in a record 42 seconds, Koenigsegg responded quickly. Within a matter of days they did a 0-400-0 kmph in 36.44 seconds thus shattering the few-days-old record for that test.
Then came the fastest run. The speed record was set in the U.S. where on a closed Nevada highway the Agera RS did an average speed of 277.9 mph. On the downhill run, wind assisted, the Agera actually did 285 mph. Anyway, the record, therefore, is 277.9 mph, trumping the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport’s record of 267 mph.
So, here’s cheers to our new winner – Koenigsegg Agera RS. Take a look at the car’s stats:
- Redline: 277.9 mph or 447.42 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 2.1 seconds (claimed)
- Power: 1360 hp
- Period at the top: November 2017 to August 2019
By the way, the Agera also beat out a non-official sprintster: the Hennessey Venom GT. The Venom GT had done 270 mph in a one-way run.
2018 is bringing new challenges for the Agera, though. Both the Hennessey and Bugatti are going to take a shot at supremacy with their flagships: Venom F5 and Chiron, respectively. Watch this space.
[EDIT: Well, Chiron just went faster. :)]
3. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
The Bugatti Veyron, until the Koenigsegg showed up, was the car to beat, and had stayed at the top for the most years in a row, a record bettered only by the McLaren F1. Its run at the top was essentially unchallenged despite a small hiccup from the Hennessey taking the top spot for a month.
The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport was developed to take on the SSC Ultimate Aero’s speed of 256 mph, which was the fastest in 2007, as recorded by Guinness Book of World Records. The Bugatti team was successful in toppling the SSC in 2010 and remained the fastest car in the world until 2017.
Take a look at the car’s stats:
- Redline: 267 mph or 429.87 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 2.4 seconds
- Power: 1200 hp
- Period at the top: June 2013 till October 2017
4. Hennessey Venom GT
Hennessey was the most serious competitor for the Bugatti, and in a way, displaced the Bugatti for a month. Hennesey did this not by exceeding the Bugatti’s top speed but rather by alleging that the Bugatti could not achieve the top speed without some additional modifications. So Bugatti lost the crown temporarily, but was reinstated after it made a clarification.
This meant that our super car was numero uno only for a month. This happens to be the shortest stay at the top for any car ever in automobile history.
- Redline: 265.5 mph or 427.46 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 2.5 seconds
- Power: 1200 hp
- Period at the top: May 2013
All was not lost, since the Hennessey bagged the record for the fastest accelerating car from 0-300 kmph—just 13.63 seconds—and it has Guinness Record validation on that one. This is one area where the Bugatti, at least for the time being, cannot beat the Hennessey.
Also, the Hennessey hit a record 270.49 mph at the Kennedy Space Center. The admirable part was that the car started from standstill and still broke the record. That is unlike the Bugatti Veyron, which had a run-in at an incline and then a 5-mile road to reach the 267 mph record.
The Hennessey actually did 270.49 mph, which was faster than the Bugatti, but still did not make it to the record books. Why not?
Sadly, NASA did not permit them the second run they needed to secure the record; just one run and that was the deal. Maybe, Hennessey will find a place to do the two-way run and be the fastest in the world. For now, however, it is Bugatti all the way!
Hennessey Venom GT Doing 300 kmph in 13.63 Seconds
5. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
This is the same car which was at the top spot till 2017 but is addressed once again since the Hennessey broke its continuous reign by a month. This car was powered up to beat the SSC Ultimate Aero originally, but it ended up doing better than that. It beat all top speed records of the time and other cars were finding it tough to catch up.
- Redline: 267 mph or 429.87 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 2.4 seconds
- Power: 1200 hp
- Period at the top: 2010 – May 2013
6. SSC Ultimate Aero
The Shelby Super Car (SSC) Ultimate Aero is the only American car to reach the top of the speed list, a list dominated by European cars. The SSC Aero was built to be the fastest car and it did so by toppling the first-generation Bugatti Veyron; mind you, the Bugatti Veyron and not Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
The speed test was witnessed by Guinness Records team and they certified the car for the top speed, which at that time was at 256 mph, beating the Bugatti Veyron’s top speed of 253 mph. Here are the car’s stats:
- Redline: 256 mph or 412.16 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 2.7 seconds
- Power: 1183 hp
- Period at the top: 2007 – 2010
At the time the SSC Ultimate Aero toppled the Bugatti, there were only two cars in the world which could go beyond the 250 miles per hour mark. Incredible achievement!!
7. Bugatti Veyron
This is the first version of the Bugatti and the first car in the world to go beyond the 250 miles per hour barrier. Bugatti’s from the times bygone have been known to build technically sound and fast cars. The Bugatti Veyron was the epitome of that. The car that was to be beaten at that time was the McLaren F1 and the Bugatti did it in style. Here are the stats of the first generation Veyron.
- Redline: 253 mph or 407.33 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 2.9 seconds
- Power: 1000 hp
- Period at the top: 2005 – 2007
Unknown to the Bugatti team in 2005, they would have made a clincher of a car which would remain at the top for a long time, but for minor falls.
8. McLaren F1
The McLaren F1 dominated the top spot for most of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. It was in the top spot for the longest number of years, if we consider all cars from the 80s.
The McLaren made a car which had a heart of gold, quite literally. The engine was coated with a layer of gold since gold was a good conductor of heat.
McLaren’s impressive stats are as follows:
- Redline: 240 mph or 386.4 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 3.2 seconds
- Power: 627 hp
- Period at the top: 1993 – 2005
Bugatti Veyron vs. McLaren F1
9. Jaguar XJ220
The Jaguar XJ220 held the record for the fastest car for a period of two years, from 1992 to 1993, until the McLaren F1 came by. The car had a humble beginning; it was made by a group of Jaguar employees who spent time in creating it in their spare time. The intention, as with all other fast production cars, was to make a speed demon and they ended up being successful at that. The stats are as follows:
- Redline: 213 mph or 343 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 3.6 seconds
- Power: 540 hp
- Period at the top: 1992 – 1993
This particular Jaguar was being built with the specific intention of reaching the 220 mph target and hence was named as XJ220. Although the car never reached the intended top speed, the top speed it did achieve was good enough for title of the fastest car in 1992.
10. Bugatti EB110 GT
We have one more Bugatti making it to the top. This was the Bugatti EB110, partly made famous by its purchase by the Formula 1 Legend Michael Schumacher in 1994. The car was an attempt by Bugatti to reach the pinnacle which at that time was occupied by its other famous European peers; the Ferraris, McLarens, Jaguars, and one American company—Porsche. They were successful and made a car which had hot stats. Here they are:
- Redline: 209 mph or 336 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 4.2 seconds
- Power: 553 hp
- Period at the top: 1991 – 1992
This was also the beginning of the reign of the Bugattis, which would eventually only get better until they conquered the world.
11. Ferrari F40
The Ferrari F40 was designed and built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ferrari and was incidentally the last Ferrari to be approved by Enzo Ferrari himself. It was intended to overtake its main competitor of its time, the Porsche 959 and it did so in style.The car was the fastest, most ferocious-looking, and costliest car sold at that time. Only about 1000 were ever made. The car held on to the crown of the fastest car for a good four years.
Here are the stats:
- Redline: 202 mph or 326 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 3.8 seconds
- Power: 471 hp
- Period at the top: 1987 – 1991
The Ferrari F40 was the first car ever to break the 200-mph barrier. It remains one of the best-manufactured cars ever and belongs to the list of the Titans.
12. Porsche 959
The Porsche 959 came into the global view after smoking another Ferrari—the 288 GTO, ending a reign of two Ferrari cars at the top since 1968. So, it came as no surprise that Ferrari chose to hit back with the Ferrari F40. The Porsche 959 was hailed as the technologically most advanced car of its time, capable of reaching a top speed of 195 mph. Here are the stats:
- Redline: 195 mph or 314 kmph
- Standstill to 60: in 3.7 seconds
- Power: 444 hp
- Period at the top: 1986 – 1987
The Porsche therefore completes the list of top list of fastest cars spanning three decades.
The fastest cars keep getting faster. Someday we may even see some Asian or Middle Eastern super-cars. Until such time, it is good to see how the world has gone faster, from the Porsches and Ferraris to the Bugattis and Koenigseggs.
Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on March 17, 2018:
brayan on March 16, 2018:
Savio Koman (author) from Mumbai, India on August 31, 2013:
Thank you so much rose-the planner! You are very kind in your analysis and glad you enjoyed reading!
rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 31, 2013:
Great article! By the way, I can't decide in which one I like the most. They are all amazing to me. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose