If you crave speed, it’s a great time to be alive. The battle for fastest car on earth takes on new wrinkles every year, and the race keeps getting more interesting with electric power in the mix. In the design labs of automakers big and small, engineers are testing ways to get more power out on lighter chassis with better aerodynamics than ever before.
The fastest cars of all time don’t come cheap but will deliver on your wildest expectations. | Bugatti
So faster and faster cars keep coming. Not so long ago, in the early 1990s, the car that hit 215 miles per hour would be king of the road. A quarter of a century later, you have to make 265 miles per hour the starting point if you want to beat out the competition.
Of course, we’re talking about cars legal to drive down the street when they’re not gunning for top speed records at tracks. Here are the 25 fastest cars ever built for public driving, ranked by top speed. We did not discriminate against small-batch models or limited-edition supercars. If it was built for the road and could prove its top speed to a reasonable degree of certainty, it made the list.
25. Porsche 918 Spyder
This first spot on the list was a close call between the Porsche 918 Spyder (2013) and Ferrari F12Berlinetta, as both have top speeds quoted at 211 miles per hour. However, evidence like the 350 km/h (217 miles per hour) run in the video below were enough to give the nod to Porsche. As a plug-in hybrid, 918 Spyder uses both electric motors and gas engines to produce 887 horsepower and nearly 950 pound-feet of torque. Porsche made only 918 examples, and one resold in 2016 for $1.8 million.
24. Lamborghini Murciélago
Murciélago translates as “bat” in English, and you can imagine it as the fast-flying winged creature or a vehicle fit for Batman. Either way, this car entered the scene for the 2001 model year and quickly made its presence known among the world’s fastest. Lamborghini quoted its top speed at 211 miles per hour, but several amateur videos show Murciélago flying past 214 on the road. Maybe they have the wind at their tails; maybe this car is faster than Lambo engineers were saying.
23. Bugatti EB110
When a new team chose to revive the Bugatti name after decades of inactivity, they began with EB110. This extraordinary vehicle featured a V12 engine capable of 560 horsepower and a top speed of 212 miles per hour. Bugatti introduced it to the world in 1991 on the 110th anniversary of Ettore Bugatti (hence the nomenclature). In Super Sport trim, it was capable of reaching 218 miles per hour. RM Auctions sold an EB110 SS for about $950,000 in 2015.
22. Jaguar XJ220S
When Jaguar downgraded its V12 Xj220 concept for a beastly V6, it was considered a disappointment. Nonetheless, this borderline masterpiece became the fastest car on earth once it went through production. It hit 212.3 miles per hour at Nardo in 1992, and that mark stood until McLaren decided to get in the business of road cars with the F1. About the XJ220S variant: Jaguar produced only six and five remain on the list of vehicles banned in America.
21. McLaren P1
When McLaren decided to make a road car, its F1 quickly became the world’s fastest. Two decades later, the brand turned electric car technology to deliver the P1 hybrid, which quickly sold out at $1.2 million. Naturally, P1 was ultra-powerful (903 horsepower) and could run to 62 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. Compared to F1 performance times, McLaren tests had P1 beating F1 by 1.3 seconds in the quarter-mile run. (P1 had reached 152 miles per hour by then.) Its top speed is limited to 217 miles per hour.
20. Ferrari LaFerrari
Competition in the hybrid supercar segment gets tougher every year. In the case of Ferrari, the Italian automaker entered the fray with LaFerrari, which debuted in 2014. Rated at 949 horsepower with the ability to hit 125 miles per hour in under seven seconds, it does not sound like any hybrid we’ve encountered.
LaFerrari matched the performance of McLaren P1 by establishing its top speed at 217 miles per hour, though some suspect it can break 220 with the limiter disabled.
19. Pagani Zonda
From Pagani, supercar shoppers can expect extraordinary speed and gorgeous construction. The brand’s Zonda (1999) featured a stunning number of small-batch variations through its 12 years of production, but none more performance-centric than Zonda Tricolore, which topped out at 220 miles per hour. In terms of stopping power and high-speed agility, few cars ever matched Tricolore, and Pagani only made three copies. Watch one outperform Bugatti Veyron Super Sport on the “Top Gear” track.
18. Ferrari Enzo
Ferrari took performance to the brand’s highest level for Enzo, the supercar bearing its founder’s name. Formula 1 cues are visible in styling and very much felt in performance, too. Enzo produced a maximum 650 horsepower and could run the quarter mile in just 11 seconds. Its top speed of 218 miles per hour remains among the greatest ever recorded more than a decade since the car’s debut. Informal tests show drivers hitting above 225 miles per hour in this car.
17. Lamborghini Aventador
With Lamborghinis, there are the automaker’s quoted top speeds and then there are tests owners run on their own time — and at their own risk. In the case of Aventador (2012), there was quite a discrepancy. Lamborghini officials said it would top out at 217 mile per hour. However, you can find videos of drivers pushing Aventador past 230 miles per hour, as Sport Auto managed in December 2011 driving an LP 700-4.
16. Aston Martin One-77
Because only 77 were made — and none appeared in James Bond films — Aston Martin’s One-77 has a special air of exclusivity for an already exclusive brand. Of course, as the fastest Aston of all time, it naturally resides in a league of it own. Production ended in 2012 with the entire lot selling for $1.5 million each. It produced 750 horsepower and ran to a top speed of 220 miles per hour. To buy one on the secondhand market, expect to pay more than double the original price.
15. Lamborghini Veneno
If you’re talking about fast and exclusive cars, Lamborghini Veneno has to enter the conversation. As a 50th anniversary project for the company in 2013, Lambo engineers decided to build and sell just three units of its most powerful car to date, starting at $4.5 million. (One entered the resale market at $11 million in 2016.) Lamborghini promised its high paying customers Veneno would hit 62 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 221 miles per hour, and we have every reason to believe them.
14. Noble M600
Can you imagine commanding 650 horsepower without anti-lock brakes or traction control? Jeremy Clarkson had that terrifying experience in 2013 piloting a Noble M600 on “Top Gear.” Clarkson did not have enough track to hit this Noble’s estimated peak of 225 miles per hour, but his fear is palpable when blasting from 150 to 170 in a few seconds or spiraling out of control at points of absurd velocity. If you’re up for a challenge, Noble will handcraft one for you in coupe or roadster form, starting at around $350,000.
13. Pagani Huayra BC
When the original Pagani Huayra cracked 220 miles per hour in early testing, you saw how well the engineer’s formula worked. Pagani took a Mercedes-AMG V12 engine (730 horsepower) and fit it inside a lightweight chassis to hit its marks without issue. Then, several years after Huayra sold out, the Italian automaker got its new (BC) model to shed 300 pounds and pushed its horsepower quotient to 789. From there, the top speed of 230 miles per hour was a given.
12. Zenvo ST1
The Zenvo ST1 is a supercar that hails from Denmark, but otherwise it has the intimidating specs and swagger you would expect from the segment. It sports 1,100 horsepower and nearly the same quotient of torque, so there is little doubt about its (limited) top speed of 233 miles per hour. With an engine that big, you need cooling fans to work at all times — something Jeremy Clarkson learned when the ST1 he was driving caught fire.
11. Koenigsegg Regera
It didn’t feel right to put the Koenigsegg Regera in the top 10 without a true speed test. Likewise, it seemed insane to leave it out entirely. The reason is simple: Regera delivers 1,479 horsepower and 1,475 pounds-feet of torque from gas and electric motors. Koenigsegg tests showed it hitting 186 miles per hour in 11 seconds, which would give it the world record. (Currently, the mark is held by another Koenigsegg.) We are putting this in “the 240 mph club,” but it seems likely it will top 250 miles per hour if given the chance.
10. Koenigsegg One:1
A car’s power-to-weight ratio is supremely important when trying to achieve impossible speeds. In the case of Koenigsegg One:1, the Swedish automaker achieved perfection with one megawatt (1,341 horsepower) of juice matched against a weight of 1,360 kg with a half-full gas tank. The formula worked, and Koenigsegg showed off One:1’s full powers at Vmax200 (Bruntingthorpe, UK) in 2016. First, it broke the record of 230 miles per hour, then obliterated that mark with a run of 240 miles per hour later in the day.
9. Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
In 2005, when Saleen and upgraded the road-ripping S7 into a twin-turbo model, only one road car ever reached 248 miles per hour, the TT’s claimed top speed. It ran on a 7.0-liter aluminum V8 capable of 750 horsepower, so the boast seemed realistic. The closest anyone came was taking the original (550 horsepower) model to 240 miles per hour. So, 248 doesn’t seem like a stretch, especially considering it got to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds.
8. Koenigsegg CCR
Koenigsegg produced the CCX it said was capable of exceeding 245 miles per hour, but we know for sure the CCR, its predecessor (2004) reached 242 miles per hour in Nardo, Italy in 2005. That performance put a world record in Koenigsegg’s trophy case, and to watch the run is something like a religious experience for speed junkies. But you can watch the Nardo run below and draw your own conclusion. Obligatory reminder: This car is street legal.
7. McLaren F1
It takes a revolutionary machine to pull off what McLaren F1 did in the 1990s. Following its dominance in the 1988 Formula 1 season, the company decided it would build the world’s best road car. Over a quarter of a century later, F1 has few peers. (None, if we’re talking about naturally aspirated engines.) Only 64 were made for public consumption, and they were electronically limited to 240.1 miles per hour. However, there at least two instances of F1 topping 243 miles per hour with the limiter off, as it does in this run from 2011.
6. 9ff GT9-R
If you thought the Germans would be left out of the top 10, think again. Dortmund-based 9ff, a tuning operation known for upgrading Porsches, came up with the GT9-R in 2009, and the results were explosive. This car produced 1120 horsepower and hit 254 miles per hour in 2008 during a run at the Papenburg Oval. While its goal of 257 was meant to claim the top speed at the time, this GTR-9 fell just a bit short.
5. SSC Ultimate Aero TT
Shelby Supercars (SSC) has nothing to do with the American racing maverick with the same last name, but they share the same approach to performance. Take the SSC Ultimate Aero, which broke the Bugatti Veyron’s world speed record in 2007 when it used its 1183 horsepower to reach 255.83 miles per hour. Afterward, an Ultimate Aero nailed 257.41 miles per hour, and SSC says it can keep on going all the way to 273 mph.
4. Koenigsegg Agera RS
Considering Koenigsegg’s fanatical attention to detail, few will be surprised the Swedish company muscled into the top five. Its Agera RS took the advancements of previous Agera models and ran them to the extreme. More power (1,160 horsepower), raised rpm limits, and an overall lighter weight came with the arrival of RS. Considering the standard (1,140 horsepower) R ran to 200 miles per hour in 17.68 seconds (verified by Guinness) and had a top speed of 260 miles per hour, we’re comfortable saying RS can at least match that mark.
3. Bugatti Chiron
We’ll start with the specs: Bugatti Chiron uses an 8.0-liter W16 engine that produces 1,479 horsepower and 1,180 pounds-feet of torque. It runs to 186 miles per hour in 13.6 seconds and then is electronically limited to a peak of 261 miles per hour. So will it pass Bugatti’s previous top speed mark of the Veyron Super Sport without the limiter? Its additional 300 horses will be enough allow Chiron to beat that number, and in 2018 Bugatti and Guinness will make it official on the track. According to Bugatti CEO, it will set a new top speed record for road cars.
2. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
Only the Bugatti Chiron’s massive power quotient could make the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport and its 1,184 horsepower seem less insane. In 2010, the Bugatti team took this Veyron to Volkswagen’s proving grounds in Ehra-Lessien and reached 431.07 km/h (267.8 miles per hour). The Guinness World Record folks were on hand and certified the results, so the decade kicked off with a new top speed champion. Later, the Veyron Grand Sport model set the record for open-topped cars at 254 miles per hour. Watch the record run below.
1. Hennessey Venom GT
Are you a by-the-book, letter-of-the-law sort of person? If so, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is the No. 1 fastest car ever made for public roads. However, if you accept the results of a speed test in one direction (Guinness doesn’t), then Hennessey Venom GT is the champion at 270.49 miles per hour, which it managed in 2014. Texas-based Hennessey says Venom GT can actually hit 278 miles per hour.