I'm against modifying supercars. I always have been. If they wanted it to have more power, different wheels, or a different suspension, it would have come that way from the factory. Hennessey just turbocharged the Ferrari 458 Italia and let me drive it before anyone else. Can a Ferrari with Texan blood change my mind?
(Full Disclosure: Hennessey wanted us to be the first to drive the 458 Twin Turbo so bad that he had us out to his west coast outpost and put us behind the wheel of the 458 for a run on some great California back roads. We didn't crash and no, the 458 did not start on fire. If you make a joke like that in the comments I'm coming to your house and will kick you.)
It almost seems like John Hennessey was put on this planet to give things more power whether they needed it or not. Even though his company is known for working almost exclusively on domestic iron, there are times when foreign cars enter the mix.
They've worked on GT-Rs in the past to a ton of acclaim. The Venom GT is partially based on a Lotus. And then we come to this 458.
The owner is a customer of John's who called him up and just said he needed more power in his new 458 Spider but didn't want a Venom GT just yet. Hennessey said he'd give it a shot. What he did was put two small turbos with a peak boost of just seven pounds on Ferrari's amazing 4.5 liter V8. Power output, even with that little bit of boost, is a dizzying 738 at the crank. That comes to somewhere in the 580 to 600 territory at the wheels. For reference, the standard 458 has 562 at the crank.
Under the hood, custom fabrication intermingles with Italian craftsmanship. There is great carbon fiber work and some gorgeous aluminum. This looks like it came from Maranello. Seriously.
Ok, so fit and finish looks factory, and that's all well and good. But has any of that Ferrari magic been compromised? Does it feel like a slap-and-bang job? Does it feel like junk?
No. Not at all. When you start the car, you have no idea anything is different. It's still loud and visceral, the flat plane V8 still sounds like a race car, just like you want. But then you step on the gas and the turbo noise kicks in.
It's silly. But not in a bad way. The best way I can describe it is take the turbo noise of a big diesel truck and overlay it on the Ferrari soundtrack. The sound of the turbos is as addictive as the sound of the V8, which is to say wasabi peas/crack cocaine, yet it never overpowers the car's natural cylindrical orchestra.
Speaking of illicit narcotics, people will probably assume you're on something when they see the grin plastered on your face when you step on the gas.
There is no turbo lag at all. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Chance of Charles Pic winning the F1 championship this year.
I've yet to drive the new 458, but this car is manic, like Gary Busey on even more uppers than usual. The 295 section rear tires, which I thought were too narrow for this car, break traction in first and second. Sure it gets to 60 in 2.8 seconds, but acceleration from 20 MPH to 120 MPH (not that I found out. Nope.) is truly ridiculous. This car will make you see plaid. Stand on it in first, and the revs rise faster than Robin Thicke will fall out of the spotlight at the end of the summer, bang it into second, repeat, and then you're going about 386 MPH.
I've now been in a lot of fast cars, but this, once again, is on a different level. It's so much faster than anyone would ever use on a road, it's ridiculous. But that's the outlaw thrill of a Ferrari with Texan blood. It's a combo that shouldn't work.
It never feels uncontrolled. Hennessey did absolutely nothing to the suspension or brakes, because they were already so strong to begin with. Initially that worried me, but I got over it pretty quickly once I stepped on the brakes.
Hennessey also didn't modify the transmission, because Ferrari builds the gearbox to handle more power than needed for future applications.
They also didn't change the interior with stupid green suede and ox ass leather. It's stock Ferrari. That's the best part about this car: If it didn't have "Twin Turbo" badges on the back, you'd have no clue it wasn't stock. It just looks like a 458 with some tasteful HRE wheels. That's all.
I tweeted a picture of the car yesterday, and I got all sorts of replies. Some thought the Twin Turbo was cool, others thought it was totally unnecessary. Both of them are totally correct. There is absolutely no need to put more power in a Ferrari 458. Even a decent driver would have a hard time getting everything out of a regular 458.
I didn't get this car before I got in it. I thought it was totally unnecessary. I still think it's totally unnecessary, because I drive a Miata and adding power to any car seems totally ridiculous to me. I do, however, get it. In fact, now I kind of don't understand people against MOAR POWER.
Our lives have been spent in the pursuit of power. We've been fettling our cars since the dawn of time to make them go faster, sound louder, and scare the ever-loving hell out of ourselves. So why is it suddenly ok to shit on someone for making a Ferrari more powerful? Shouldn't we applaud them?
I saw the car being built at Hennessey's shop in March, and they just finished it. This isn't something that was slapped together by people who don't know at all what they're doing. I'm actually impressed by the attention to detail. It's amazingly well done.
For now, this is the only one Hennessey has built. There is the opportunity to do more though, if you give Hennessey a 458 and $59,995. So if you want a mildly insane Gary Busey of a 458, give John Hennessey a call. He'll hook you up.