Humans are obsessed with round numbers, but even more so with certain numbers. They also give a lot more weight to what we like to call milestone numbers. Why is a car that makes 1,000 hp cooler than one that makes 995? Or a car that runs 10.99 in the quarter given more respect than one that runs 11.01? Because humans love big, sexy round numbers. Another milestone number is 200 ... as in 200 mph. It used to be that this magic number was attainable by only a small handful of rides, but as modern cars have gotten more powerful and aerodynamically sleeker the club has become a bit less exclusive, but it’s still a pretty small group of cars that can pull this off. Why? Because aerodynamic drag makes it exponentially more difficult to go faster as speed increases. There are only two ways to overcome this aerodynamic drag: more power and/or less drag.
The C6 Corvette ZR1, with its blown LS9 engine, broke the 200-mph barrier, but the new LT4-powered C7 Z06 didn’t due to the fact that its increased downforce (for better handling grip) increased drag. New Camaros, including the sleeker Gen-6 version, have less power and greater drag compared to a C7 Vette so they’ve have never hit 200 mph from the factory. The guys over at Hennessey Performance (HPE) like round numbers, too, and figured out how to coax a new Gen-6 Camaro over the 200-mph threshold.
Of course, talk is cheap, so Hennessey decided to buy a newer Camaro and use it as a proof-of-concept deal. The red 1SS was brought back to the shop and prepped for some additional horsepower. The LT1 was topped with a 2300 TVS supercharger set at 7 psi of boost. It’s all about moving more air, so the team also added 1.75-inch stainless long-tube headers and a higher flowing stainless mid-pipe along with high-flow cats. On the engine side the heads received CNC port work, a competition valve job, and a lot of TLC, which included lightweight valves and titanium retainers. Stronger pushrods, a custom-grind HPE hydraulic roller cam, and just the right tune bumped the power up to 605 hp at 6,500 rpm, but that still wasn’t quite enough. To add another 146 hp Hennessey slapped on a nitrous kit, resulting in a combined power output of 751 hp, or 649 hp to the tires. On the non-power side of the ledger HPE dropped the stance of the 2016 with parts from Chevrolet Performance designed to work in conjunction with the factory magnetic-ride system. Also added to the mix were a set of four lightweight 20-inch Hennessey H10 wheels shod with Continental ContiSportContact 5P tires (255/40/20 front and 295/35/20 rear).
All was well and fine, but Hennessey knows that real-world testing is the best way to make a point so the Camaro was hauled over to Continental’s 8.5-mile high-speed oval tire proving ground where driver Brian Smith hit a verified top speed of 202.1 mph! With the concept proven, Hennessey decided to sell just 100 of these rides along with another 100 that can make the same power on engine mods alone.
So, what happened to the red development car? Well, just like most R&D cars it was eventually sold to make room for the “next big thing.” In this case the buyer was Texas resident and Camaro fan David Darling. As he told us “My first car was a ’68 Camaro and I really missed that car. I’m married and now that the kids are grown up I started looking for a Camaro and I really wanted Hennessey Performance to build me a ZL1. This car was available immediately so I bought it.” After driving the Camaro he was so impressed that he still ordered up a worked-over Camaro ZL1 that should be delivered shortly. After all, once you’ve joined the 200 mph club, it’s hard to downgrade.
Photography by Grant Cox