Is This Real Life?

by Chris Collier

The year is 2014, and 18-year-old me is going more than 200 MPH in the Hennessey Venom GT … in a racing video game, of course. Driveclub, published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 4, was my jam back in the day. The Hennessey Venom GT was one of my favorite cars in the game. Little did I know that, eight years later, I would interview the man behind the monstrous machine.

In early 2022, I reached out to Chris West, XPEL’s director of automotive films. I wanted to make a splash. I wanted to interview an automotive industry figure with name recognition. West has connections spanning the entire world and was kind enough to put me in touch with John Hennessey, who founded Hennessey Performance in 1991 to make “fast cars go faster.”

John Hennessey earned recognition in the early 1990s with race-winning vehicle modifications that gained global fame. His company operates Hennessey Performance Engineering, Hennessey Special Vehicles and the Tuner School, where future vehicle engineers and tuners learn the trade.

70-plus employees comprise the Texas-based automotive juggernaut, which modifies, tunes and enhances high-performance cars and trucks. Hennessey has modified more than 10,000 cars and trucks since opening in 1991. Below is a portion of my interview with Hennessey—an opportunity I will never forget.

PPF: When did you first hear about paint protection film?

John Hennessey: I’ve been aware of PPF for many years and have been paying close attention as the technology has been perfected. At Hennessey, we like to say that ‘We make fast cars faster,’ and that means there’s a potential for paint damage. PPF applies nearly invisibly, and it doesn’t affect performance or aerodynamics, so we can break acceleration and top speed records without worrying about damaging our paint. Our customers are elated to learn that we offer PPF for their expensive paint jobs.

PPF: Where is the paint protection film segment regarding the automotive industry’s awareness?

John Hennessey: Almost all of our customers are aware of the benefits of paint protection film because we are selling premium vehicles—they ask about PPF. Awareness is strong for our segment, and owners of less expensive vehicles are beginning to embrace its benefits, too. I imagine that its use will be widespread very soon.

PPF: What is your personal, all-time favorite car in Hennessey’s line-up?

John Hennessey: Without question, it is our 1,817 brake horsepower hypercar—the Hennessey Venom F5. It is the culmination of 30-plus years of Hennessey engineering experience, boasting a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter ‘Fury’ V8 that is engineered to exceed 300 mph. Another one of my favorites is our ‘Fly Navy’ Dodge Viper that we named the Venom 1000 Twin Turbo. Back in 2007, it won a Road & Track supercar shootout with a 210.2 mph top speed— beating the Bugatti Veyron.

PPF: How many of your cars have paint protection film applied?

John Hennessey: Our customers know that PPF is very effective in terms of protecting paint from rock chips and environmental damage. On that note, we apply PPF to every one of our Hennessey Venom F5 hypercars before the customer takes delivery. We also recommend it to customers buying our modified Hennessey Performance cars and trucks, but we leave the decision up to them.

Chris Collier is the editor of PPFMag.
ccollier@glass.com

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