Speed matters, especially when it comes to the fastest cars in the world.
But what manufacturers claim their multi-million pound hypercars are capable of and what they have actually been proven to achieve are two very different things. That’s why this list focuses on recorded times, not the ‘theoretical’ top speed figures. Unless it set a time in real life, it hasn’t made the cut.
Like owning a watch that works on the moon, or a pen that can write at 200m under the sea, it’s nice to know that, your car can perform miles-per-hour miracles - were you to find somewhere where it was safe and legal to do so.
With that in mind, here are the fastest production road cars by the numbers.
8. McLaren F1 - 240.1mph
Famously set by racing driver Andy Wallace at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test track in March 1998, the monumental British hypercar carried the title of World’s fastest production car for the best part of 15 years. However, that figure required the rev limiter to be raised to 8,300rpm - no production F1 has ever been recorded at more than 211mph, though unmodified, the 6.1-litre V12 should be capable of a still astonishing 221mph.
7. Koenigsegg CCR - 241.1mph
The car to knock the F1 off the top spot did do at Italy’s Nardo Ring test track in February 2005. Koenigsegg’s second-ever production model used a 4.7-litre twin-supercharged V8 to produce north of 800bhp and urge it on to beat McLaren by a single mile per hour. The record wouldn’t stand for long, however; just two months later, Bugatti would take the crown in spectacular fashion.
6. Bugatti Veyron 16.4 - 253.8mph
At the time it was the most expensive and most powerful road car ever built, but VW Group bosses wanted the Bugatti Veyron to be officially the fastest car in the world as well. An 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged W16 engine produced 987bhp from the factory, with a seven-speed automatic gearbox sending power all four wheels. The car had to be put into its Top Speed Mode for the run, activated with a special key that retracts the rear spoiler, shuts the front air diffuser and lowers the ground clearance to just 6.5cm. The result? A record-breaking 253.8mph at VW’s Ehra-Lessien test facility.
5. SSC Ultimate Aero TT - 256.1mph
SSC, then known as Shelby Supercars, produced the Ultimate Aero for seven years - not a long lifespan, but long enough to overtake Bugatti in the top speed stakes. In September 2007, the 1183bhp, twin-turbocharged V8 hypercar used a temporarily-closed two-lane stretch of public road near the Washington company’s headquarters to set an average top speed of just over 256mph.
4. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport - 267.8mph
Not happy to have the record taken from them, and by an American car at that, Bugatti gave the Veyron a substantial overhaul in order to raise its top speed even further and have a new go at winning the title. The Veyron Super Sport was limited to just 30 cars, with each one seeing power output boosted to 1184bhp and aerodynamics overhauled to cope with the forces it would experience beyond 250mph. In July 2010, Bugatti test driver Pierre Henri Raphanel lapped the Ehra-Lessien oval at 267.856mph.