John Hennessey has set his sights on creating a road car capable of reaching 300 mph. But he has another, just as ambitious goal: to turn his boutique tuning company into a bona fide auto manufacturer.
Don't expect to see Hennessey-branded hatchbacks or SUVs. His target is McLaren, the British company with a racing heritage that last year sold 3,340 high-performance road cars around the world. In comparison, Lamborghini sold 3,815 cars and Ferrari 8,398.
"I have been telling our team for quite a while that I would like Hennessey to be the American version of McLaren," said Hennessey, who counts McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt as a friend. "It's a really neat example of what kind of amazing cars can be built by a very focused small company in a short period of time."
McLaren built its first road car, the F1, in the mid-1990s, in limited numbers. The company relaunched its production lineup in 2011, and now has three ranges of cars, the Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series, with prices that start at about $200,000.
Hennessey Performance Engineering in Sealy, Texas, opened its doors in the early 1990s. John Hennessey started with turbocharger and exhaust modifications for the Mitsubishi 3000GT and other imports, proving his mettle in high-speed open-road tests in Nevada. He moved on to Dodge Vipers, then began modifying a range of high-performance cars including the Ford GT, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 and LS9-powered Chevrolet Camaro.