Deep dive: rare 808hp Hennessey Mustang monster lands in NZ
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In the world of motoring things tend to unfold with either extreme immediacy or at the kind of aching meandering pace that would make a glacier scoff. The slow-roast Honda NS-X and Toyota Supra are good examples of the latter, while the roaring anti-establishment Hennessey Heritage Edition Ford Mustang can be seen as the former.
We covered Hennessey's high-power rendition of Ford's pony car in August last year when it was revealed — claiming that it was an unlikely starter for New Zealand given its incredibly limited production run of 19 units. We then had to choke down a whole humble pie less than three weeks later when it was confirmed that two of them were coming here. Whoops.
Now it's January, and the two fierce beasts have landed. One's being primed for its new owner, while the other is heading to this weekend's Leadfoot Festival in Hahei (you'll see it at the CTB Performance & Accessories stand next to their Ford GT). But before making that journey, we thought it best to see it up close.
So, what is the Hennessey Heritage Edition Mustang?
Most who spot it at the traffic lights will likely just think it's a rather tastefully modified GT (strictly speaking, I suppose they wouldn't be wrong). Not much is revealed visually. The heritage stripes and red paint do a bang-up job at mimicking Ford's iconic 1967 Le Mans winning GT40 Mk IV, and Hennessey badging offers a bit of a clue ... but casual punters will otherwise likely think that it's just a nicely optioned Mustang GT.
But there are other things to look out for. The 20-inch Hennessey wheels look different and come wrapped in exceptionally sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 rubber while cross-drilled Ford Performance Brembo brakes from a Shelby GT350 (6-piston in front, 4-piston down back) sit behind the spokes.
Look closer, and you'll see that that the valance skirting the bottom of the Heritage Edition is formed out of carbon fibre — complemented further by a carbon fibre rear wing. The different material brings with it weight gains, while the larger front-splitter overhang helps generate down-force. It sits lower, too, thanks to adjustable KW suspension.
The 'heritage' aspect isn't limited to the stripes. This model is also Hennessey Performance's way of celebrating making their 10,000th tuned vehicle. Those digits come from modified versions of almost every major American muscle and sports car. I still remember burning around Laguna Seca in the Hennessey Viper 800TT in Forza Motorsport 1 on Xbox, struggling to control all of its power with my fingertips.
Behind those stripes and that carbon fibre, the legend of shoehorning mind-bending power into American cars lives on in this Mustang.
Those who've read our previous stories will of course know what lurks behind the Hennessey's almost innocent exterior. Power still comes from Ford's much loved Coyote 5.0-litre V8, only now it's supported by a new supercharger, a bespoke fuel pump and injectors, an air-to-water intercooler, a high-flow air induction system, and a custom tune.
Output ends up at a ridiculous 808hp (603kW) of power at 7200rpm and 556Nm of torque at 4500rpm — dwarfing the 339kW and 556Nm in the standard Mustang GT, and reportedly good enough to churn out a 0–96km/h time of 3.3 seconds, a top speed of over 320km/h, and a 10.7-second quarter mile pass.
The supercharger is the hero of the performance dish. It's based on a fifth-generation 3.0-litre Whipple Superchargers unit that features a front feed twin-screw design and a three-core intercooler set-up. Whipple claim that the unit makes more power than "any other positive displacement supercharger ever built".
It's impressive but, as you'd expect, Hennessey have done their own fettling to the system to help it produce even more output.
Admittedly, this particular car probably won't be able to hit 100km/h in 3.3 seconds thanks to being fitted with a six-speed manual transmission. But all the same, the idea of controlling so much horsepower through a 'stick' is a more deliciously frightening prospect than caving for the auto. It's also a point of difference, given that so many of its power-hungry American rivals are exclusively automatics.
While we weren't able to take it out for a spin, we did get to listen to the Hennessey's start-up and idle engine note. A Borla exhaust package bespoke to the Heritage Edition ensures a loud bark, sounding like a heavily amplified version of the standard car. There have been claims that the amount of audible whine from the supercharger is limited — which, depending on your disposition, can be a good or a bad thing.
One area where things haven't changed too much at all is inside.
The only prescribed change to the cabin is a pair of new embroidered headrests and a build plaque. Otherwise, the rest of it is pure standard Mustang.
That means it's a pretty comfortable place to be, while not necessarily being the most high quality. Surfaces range from squishy leathers with blue stitching to firm unforgiving plastics. Heated and cooled seats are a nice touch on this example, but otherwise it's simply the retro-styled, slightly plasticy living space we already know so well.
It's here that I'd normally throw down a line about whether the cabin spoils the value-for-money element of the car. But, for a few reasons, I can't really do that.
For one, we don't know where local pricing sits. It remains a 'price on application' situation — even after our pestering requests for info while taking these images (and yes, it's for sale). And ... let's be honest ... how exactly do you define value around a car that exists in so little numbers?
That 19-vehicle production run can be further divided down into left-hand drive and right-hand drive, and doing that makes this bright red Mustang one of just seven eight hundred horse power nutcases in the world.
That breed of automotive four-wheeled nutcase — the Dodge Demons and Camaro Hennesseys of the industry — appear plentiful now. But, with the Mustang confirmed as going hybrid in its next generation (at least partially. We hope a V8 will continue to be available), cars like the Hennessey Heritage Edition Ford Mustang could be the true end of an era. Enjoy them while they're here.