1,204-hp Hennessey Venom 1200 is the new kingsnake

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In 2019, Texas tuner Hennessey Performance did some open heart surgery on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, swapping the supercharger on the Mustang's 5.2-liter Predator engine for two turbochargers. The result waved a fast goodbye to the GT500's stock 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque. Available in two outputs and called the Venom 1000 or Venom 1200, the latter made 1,200 hp at 7,000 rpm and 1,000 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. You know what they say about one good turn, so say hello again to the Venom 1000 and Venom 1200, this time with one (really big) screw instead of two compressors. Hennessey removed the 2.65-liter supercharger from the stock GT500, laying in a 3.8-liter unit. Final specs for the bigger boy are 1,204 hp at 7,600 rpm and 902 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.

Engineers breathed on the drivetrain from the intake to the exhaust. There's a new high-flow induction system and intercooler, upgraded belts, fittings, lines, and tensioners, an air/oil separation system and a recalibrated dual-clutch transmission to swallow all that extra oomph. Of course, new anodized billet fuel rails and injectors convey a lot more fuel from tank to nozzle. Speaking of which, the new Venoms can run on pump gas; however, the 1200 will only corral 900 horses on basic premium. They need E85 to get out the whole herd.

The Venom 1200 conversion costs $59,950 on top of the price of a new GT500, a dealer showroom GT500 starting at $80,815 before options and all the rest. The previous Venoms weren't capped, but the reboots are, Hennessey saying there will be just 66 of them, the number tied to Ford winning the 1966 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Customers who want to make that connection public can check the box for the livery in black, red and white for $4,950. It honors the Ford GT40 Mk II that won the French race. We can't exactly call these prices a bargain, but they're a lot less than a similar rework Shelby American's done to the GT500 and called the Code Red. Going the twin-turbo route, the Code Red makes 1,300 hp and 1,000 lb-ft on E85, or 1,000 hp and 780 lb-ft on pump gas. There are only 30 of them, ten a year for three model years, making them more than twice as exclusive as the Venom 1200. They're also more than twice as costly, the stewards of Carroll Shelby's legacy charging $209,995 for the Code Red, which doesn't include the donor coupe. But the Code Red is sold out, making the Venom 1200 the kingsnake for now.

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