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From 14 MPH To 270 MPH: The History of Fastest

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1996
From 14 MPH To 270 MPH: The History of Fastest

Since the invention of the first horseless carriage, mankind has spent untold fortunes in the pursuit of going just a little bit faster. Why? Because there's nothing quite like a good old-fashioned bar fight over whether Car A counts as a production car, or if Car B is really faster using a special setting. The way it works around here is simple: if in the car's day, you could pick up the phone (or send a telegraph), promise a small-to-mid-sized fortune, and take delivery of your very own crazy-fast car, it counts as a production car. Ridiculously fast one-offs never meant for public consumption? Not so much. Here are the fastest production cars the world has ever seen. Some of them won't surprise you in the slightest, and others might be conspicuous by their absence.

1894 Benz Velo Custom 

1894 Benz Velo

Alright, this one wins by default as the first production car. With ablistering paceof 14.5 miles per hour, it’s a wonder they didn’t call it a day with this whole record-setting hooey right then and there.

1949 Jaguar XK120 Roadster Custom

1949 Jaguar XK120

There’s a bit of a chronological gap between the Benz and the Jaaaag, sure, but the British cat was the first to really be knownas the fastest.With a top speed of 124.6 mph it may seem a bit pokey today, but it was impressive at the time. And with 12,000 built, there were definitely no squabbles about if it was really a car for the masses.

1969 1974 iso grifo 7 litre Custom

1963 Iso Rivolta Grifo A3/L 327

The legendary Mercedes 300SL and a couple of Astons slotted in between this and the Jaguar, but the sleek Bizzarini-designed Grifo is so desperately pretty it just had to be shown. With aChevy V8 under the hoodit had enough power to propel it to 161 mph. It’s kind of strange to think that there’s a good chance your mom’s car can do that kind of record-setting speed 50 years later.

porsche 959 Custom

1986 Porsche 959

Ferrari and Lamborghini took turns incrementally upping the mark throughout the 1960s and 1970s with the Daytona and variations of the Miura, respectively, but the Porsche 959 blew everything else out of the water. With a technologically advanced drivetrain, suspension, and let’s be honest pretty much everything else, Porsche took the crown at 195 mph. It also started the trend of ultra-low volume halo cars becoming the main pugilists in the fight for the title.

Ferrari F40 Custom

1987 Ferrari F40

What, you think Enzo’s glory would allow some Beetle outshine Ferrari? Just one year later, the stripped-down F40 finally topped the 200 mark, with acclaimed top speedof 201 mph. It’s that last “1” that makes this one special.

1995 mclaren f1 Custom

1993 McLaren F1

The Jaguar XJ220 and the Bugatti EB110 each raised the bar a bit in the ensuing years, but in 1993 the McLaren F1 stole the record, and the heart of every child growing up in the 1990s, when it destroyed all previous contenders with its run of 231 mph.While a top speed was later reached of 240 mph, it was achieved with the rev limiter disabled. So the former was the official accepted figure.

bugatti veyron 2005 black 1920x1200 91672 1 Custom

2005 Bugatti Veyron

McLaren managed to hold onto the title for a staggering 12 years, but so staggering was its top speed that few manufacturers dared even attempt to come close. When Volkswagen announced that they would top 250, however, even fewer doubted that they could do it. With immense monetary and technological resources behind it, Volkswagen Auto Group’s Bugatti Veyron managed to take the crown at 253.81 mph, a very precise figure for avery precisecar.

The original Veyron was perhaps the last undisputed speed champion for production cars. Since then, American upstarts like Hennessey and SSC have taken shots at a spot in the history books and have traded claims with different iterations of the Veyron, but claims of both speed and the necessary production requirements have become harder and harder to verify.

Let’s just hope that one day soon we have another undisputed king.

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