Code-name “Project Deep Space” has six wheels and runs only on electric power.
“I had wanted to do something in the electrification space, and started thinking about it over 10 years ago," said the founder of the Sealy, Texas-based tuning company that also makes the US$2.1 million Hennessey Venom F5 hypercar and modifies 600 additional cars and trucks each year.
"But I couldn’t overcome the fact that with electrified vehicles the batteries are super heavy.”
In 2014, Hennessey’s Venom GT set a 435.31kph world land speed record.
Fast-forward to October 2019 and Hennessey had changed his plan: Rather than waiting for battery technology to advance enough so he could make a featherweight electric speed-demon like the Venom cars, he’d make a grand-tourer fit for driving from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, or from Denver to Aspen.
It would be heavier than track cars, yes, but also far more comfortable.
“I thought what if we could do something different that moves four people—if we had six wheels, we’d have the additional power of two more electric motors [at each wheel] and also the additional grip of six tires rather than four tyres,” he said, calling the project “the next chapter of the next 30 years” for the company.
“It’s a car that is really focused more towards luxury and an amazing driving experience.”
Bound for the theatre, not the track
The second of four new name-brand vehicles Hennessey will produce during the next decade, Deep Space signals the biggest change yet for the 30-year-old company that historically has focused on high-performing—not highly elegant—vehicles.
The first of the series, the ultra-light Hennessey Venom F5 hypercar, started production in 2020 and will attempt a land speed record next year. (A spokesperson declined to give details about the next two vehicles planned.)
In stark contrast, the new grand tourer is said to be 20 feet long—the length of a futuristic and possibly unwieldy Mercedes-Maybach concept saloon—with a hefty body weight to match.
Hennessey declined to specify a weight but indicated it could be as much as 2,267kg, far more than the sub-1,360kg weight of the Venom F5.
Deep Space has seating for four adults; a single driver’s seat sits up front, two seats rest in the middle, and one seat reclines to lie flat in back. Its gullwing doors open up to reveal high-quality textiles that will be bespoke ordered by each customer.
The car also has storage room for four sets of golf clubs and additional luggage. From the top looking down, it looks like the smoothed-over outline of a horseshoe crab.
“It needed to look like an alien spaceship, and I promise you it does,” said Nathan Malinick, Hennessey’s design director who first sketched the vehicle on the back of a bank statement. “This is [like] something from Deep Space.”
Shell Pennzoil will provide lubricants for the new technology.
Electrification engineering specialist Delta Cosworth is providing the electrical powertrain for the car, which Hennessey said will exceed 2,000hp and hit top speeds of an estimated 200mph (320kph).
Delta has long provided engineering and technology for previous Hennessey cars including the Venom F5. But while Hennessey is prepping the F5 for a world-record run in early 2022, Deep Space will not attempt an all-out speed world record.
“We would like for Project Deep Space to be the world’s quickest accelerating four seat car from 0-200mph, but we have no intention of making this into a top speed car to compete with,” he said.
“This car is not designed to go to the Circuit of the Americas [Formula 1 race track] and try to set a lap record.”
Instead, it’s all about an athletic body and the cosy confines of cabin space, said designer Malinick, who designed business jets and concepts at Embraer Executive Jets before joining Hennessey in 2020.
“If I were to compare it to clothing, Lululemon would be a great example,” he said. “It’s a space where you have wonderful materials that are rich, comforting. It’s something you want to wear all the time, and it’s redefining what luxury is. That is our hope with this car.”
Hennessey’s six-wheeled car will get stares at the local coffee shop when it finally hits city streets, but it is not the only one.
In 1977, the England-based Panther car company built a six-wheeled convertible called the Panther 6. (It made two of them, each powered with a Cadillac engine and not much else.)
The rare six-wheeled Covini C6W of the early 2000s featured an Audi-built engine under its Italian-made hood; Mansory’s Mercedes Benz G63 AMG 6x6 features extreme racing components, an AMG 8-cylinder twin turbo engine, and six wheels.
Hennessey already makes six-wheeled pickups like the Hennessey Goliath and Velociraptor. A company spokesman would not comment on the steering system for the six wheels on the Project Deep Space.
On the electric side of things, the closest runner to Project Deep Space is the Swedish-built Koenigsegg Gemera hybrid.
The 1,700hp Gemera lacks the extra two wheels and the pure-electric power arrangement of the Hennessey car, but like the Texas vehicle it is a grand tourer-style car with open-up doors, an unconventional four-person seating arrangement, and a hybrid-electric powertrain.
The US$1.9 million Gemera will start deliveries in 2023.
Hennessey said customer input, supply-chain planning, and scheduling to coincide with the last of the Venom F5s all affect the timeline for Project Deep Space, which will start production in 2026.
“We would rather underpromise and overdeliver,” he said.
The company plans to cap production at 105 vehicles, some of which have already been reserved via a refundable US$100,000 deposit and signed letter of intent.