If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” The words of one of the most successful racing drivers yet, the great Mario Andretti.
Eye-watering speed and performance are no longer available only to racing drivers, however. The battle between carmakers for record-breaking top speeds achievable in vehicles that can legally wear a registration plate and be bought by a petrolhead member of the general public has never been greater.
Here’s our pick of the 10 fastest road-going production cars in the world today, based on overall top speeds*:
10. Ferrari LaFerrari
Calling your car pretty much the same thing twice is a bold move, but the LaFerrari was designed to push the boundaries of technology. It was Ferrari's first ever production car to get the F1-derived hybrid system, which combines a 160bhp electric motor with a 6262cc, naturally-aspirated V12 engine that generates 790bhp – a whopping 950bhp in total. This translates into a top speed of “above 217mph” (349kph). Just 499 examples were slated for production, ensuring relative exclusivity for discerning Ferrari owners.
9. Aston Martin One-77
Admit it: who doesn't want an Aston Martin? Made famous by a certain fictional spy, Aston hasn't looked back since and some would say its efforts culminated in 2012 with the fastest road-going offer yet: the One-77. Not only is its appearance suitably stunning, it has a 7312cc, 7.3-litre V12 motor capable of a top speed of 220mph (354kph). As the name suggests, 77 cars were built and quickly sold out.
8. Noble M600
With each M600 hand built in Britain, the car is powered by a 4439cc, Yamaha Judd twin-turbo V8 engine producing 650bhp, with an estimated top speed of 225mph (362kph). Noble takes a different approach from its rivals, preferring to focus on how rewarding the car is to drive; it does not “compete or align itself with any other currently-available supercar”. Also consider what happened when Autocar road tested the M600... they found it went “faster than a McLaren F1 in almost every in-gear increment from 20-160mph”. Seriously impressive.
7. Pagani Huayra / Huayra BC
Codenamed C9, the Italian-built Huayra (named after Huayra-tata, an Andean wind god), uses a 6.0-litre, twin-turbo V12 motor specially developed by Mercedes-AMG. With a top speed “over” 230mph (370kph), the run of just 100 units sold out in early 2015. An even more extreme version, the BC, with an extra 10bhp over the standard car, and a predicted higher top speed, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2016. Just 20 will be made – and all have already sold out.
6. Saleen S7 / S7 Twin Turbo
US-based Saleen Automotive is best known for building high-performance cars based on other carmakers' chassis, but did make one of its own – the Ford V8-powered S7. The original was claimed to have a top speed of 220mph (354kph), but in 2005, the turbocharged S7 Turbo appeared, pushing out a reported 750bhp and a theoretical top speed of near 240mph (386kph). None of this was ever proved officially, but an S7 owner on YouTube said he managed to get up to 240mph from his car.
5. McLaren F1
Easily the best-known supercar on this list, the British-built McLaren F1 was a technological masterpiece. It remains the fastest naturally-aspirated road car ever made – a testament to its outstanding design and engineering. Only 106 cars left the workshop, and in 1998, the F1 set the record for the world’s fastest production car, reaching a two-way average speed of 240.1mph (386.5kph), with its 6.1-litre, BMW V12 motor spinning at 8300rpm. It was also the first road car to use a complete carbon-fibre monocoque chassis.
4. SSC Ultimate Aero
Formerly known as Shelby SuperCars, SSC has produced some impressive machinery, including the 1287bhp Ultimate Aero. Back in 2007, the 6.3-litre, twin-turbo V8-engined Aero took the Guinness World Record for fastest production car, with an average speed of 256.14mph (412kph) on a public highway in Washington State – a title it held until 2010. Its projected top speed was 273mph (439kph), but this has never been officially proven.
3. Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport
This 8.0-litre, quad-turbo, W16-cylinder fire breather was embroiled in a very public spat back in 2013 with a rival placed at number two in this list over the official Guinness World Record for fastest production car. Ultimately, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport kept the title with a recorded top speed of 267.8mph, achieved with two timed runs in opposite directions to average out any wind effects, under Guinness World Record rules.
2. Hennessey Venom GT
Pretty controversial, this. The Hennessey Venom GT clocked a mightily impressive 270.49mph (431kph) in a test run at the famous Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle landing strip in 2014 but was seen by many as something other than a true series production car, being based on a heavily-modified, stretched Lotus Exige chassis. However, its barnstorming 7.0-litre, 1244bhp twin-turbo V8 motor and blistering performance can’t be ignored that easily.
1. Koenigsegg One:1
Forget the supercar or hypercar name tags; the Koenigsegg One:1 is named as the world’s first megacar by its Swedish manufacturer – the first homologated production car to produce one Megawatt of power (around 1341bhp). With a claimed top speed of 273mph (439kph), the One: 1 is powered by a 5.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine and can catapult you to 62mph from a standstill in 2.6 seconds. In case you’re wondering, the One:1 is in honour of the car’s horsepower-to-kilogram weight ratio, which is, predictably, 1:1. Seven examples, including one prototype, were built in 2014-15: the very exclusive run sold out immediately.
* This list is based on a car’s overall top speed (at the time of writing), already verified or claimed. It applies to cars that are road legal in their intended markets, can be bought and driven new or second-hand by a member of the general public and have been built by the original car manufacturer (modified or tuned variants by professional tuners or anyone else are not included here).