Fastest Hypercar was faster than other hypercars.
For some, only the most extreme will do. Hypercars are for these people. A hypercar may never even travel at half its ultimate speed – but the knowledge that it can do it is enough. The trick for the makers is to make sure they can do it… and get a place in the record books to prove it.
Such cars cannot be developed like normal models. Road cars have a diverse set of requirements, and even fast Ferraris must also carry luggage, have long service intervals and be easy to drive in city centres. Not so for hypercars. There, the main focus is top speed, with every engineering decision being made with this in mind.
It’s why the cars are so very different to all others – and this is what people are so keen to buy into. Every component, every suspension change, even the spec of the glass in the windows has been made to help achieve that top speed.
Cars are usually built by smaller companies, often highly specialised unknowns. The market for these models is limited and big-brand makers struggle to make a business case for them. The compromises that very high top speeds impose make the models less useable in daily conditions than the more rounded supercars – hypercars really are just that.
15 years ago, 200mph was a massive, headline-grabbing deal. Today, well in excess of 250 miles per hour is a prerequisite. Future cars must have 300mph as a target. Such a high speed will require big developments in technologies such as tyres and brakes, driveshafts and wheel bearings, even body materials that have to deal with such aerodynamic loads. But relentless progress means they’ll come.
Visually, hypercars are unmistakable. They contrast with cars built for handling, which generate downforce to keep them stuck to the ground in corners. This is why Formula 1 cars have huge rear wings, for example. If speed is a priority, these wings become surplus: getting a low aerodynamic drag factor is vital. This is the coefficient of drag (Cd). As such, hypercars generally have smooth surfaces and gently rounded edges for good Cd figures: picture the profile of a water drop. This is also why they often have long but sharply cut-off tails: the ‘wake’ of air must be as small as physically possible.
Similarly, the frontal area should be minimised, which means getting it low to the ground. The air drag index is actually a function of Cd and frontal area: if both are low, the car will be very aerodynamic – but even a low and lean front end won’t make a car sleek if the rest of it hasn’t been thought through properly.
Impressive power is essential. Whereas road cars have power figures in the hundreds, hypercars measure output in the thousands. It is virtually a prerequisite for a 2gomph car to have more than 1,000 horsepower: so quickly do loads rise at speed, big increases in output are needed for apparently minor jumps in top speed.
Hyper top speeds are actually a function of three variables – engine power, air resistance and rolling resistance. This is why many land speed record cars have such skinny tyres. These are completely unrealistic for road use, where cars also have to corner – hence the focus on power and aerodynamics.
Tyres carry huge loads: bespoke land speed tyres must be fitted, as road going tyres simply can’t cope. Pressures are often very high – a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport has inflation pressures of 43psi, compared with 3opsi of a Ford Fiesta.
Official rules for the ultimate world land speed record state a fixed length course must be used. Two runs must be made, in opposite directions, within an hour. The speed is taken as the average of the two.
No such official test exists for production cars, though. Some claims are therefore dubious: the most valid are claims verified by independent testers such as Guinness World Records. Along with German independent body TUV, it verified the Bugatti Super Sport top speed, from an average of three runs.