1940s: Jaguar XK120 – 124.6 mph
1950s: Aston Martin DB4 GT – 152 mph
Fast forward 11 years and rival British firm Aston Martin pulls out its big guns in the name of speed. The DB4 GT hit the market in 1959, and while it didn’t claim the title of world’s fastest car until 1961, the 302-horsepower DB4 managed a blistering top speed of 152 mph.
1960s: Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona – 174 mph
…and then the Italians came along. In 1963 an Iso Grifo 327 was clocked at 161 mph. In 1967 a Lamborghini Miura P400 ran 171 mph. But it wasn’t until 1968 that Ferrari unleashed the 365 GTB/4 Daytona, which topped out at an impressive 174 mph at the hands of motoring publication Autocar.
1970s: Lamborghini Countach LP 400 – 180 mph
While the 1960s ushered in a new era of speed, enthusiasts saw a small dip in performance going into the 70s. Sure, cars like the De Tomaso Pantera and Lancia Stratos were all on the market, but only one automaker had the balls to keep speed alive; Lamborghini.
Originally introduced in 1974, the base Countch LP 400 reached a speed of 180 mph fresh from the factory floor, while the following 400S and 500S only topped out at 158 and 160.
1980s: Ferrari F40 – 202.687 mph
While the 60s were an ushering in of speed, the 80s were something like speed freak heaven. Porsche came out swinging with the 195 mph 959 in 1986. But when Ferrari got wind of the German bullet, they dropped their own rocket car onto unsuspecting consumers.
The Ferrari F40 hit the scene a year later in 1987. And when it did, it topped out at a monstrous 202.687— the first production car to reach the holy grail of 200 mph. It was all uphill from there.
1990s: McLaren F1 – 240.1 mph
In 1991, a Bugatti EB110 GT reached 209 mph. A year later, a Jaguar XJ220 hit 212.3 mph. But it wasn’t until 1993 that — seemingly out of nowhere — McLaren unveiled the F1 hypercar onto the world with a top speed of 240.1 mph.
2000s: Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – 267.857 mph
After 10 years, the McLaren F1 was still sitting pretty atop the leaderboard for world’s fastest. But in 2005, the revival of French marque Bugatti by Volkswagen prompted McLaren to go back to the drawing board.
The awe-inspiring Bugatti Veyron 16.4 reached a verified top speed of 253.81 mph. And then five years later, Bugatti went about breaking its own record with a Veyron Super Sport and a top speed of 267.857 mph.
2010s: Hennessey Venom GT* – 270.49 mph
Here and now in 2015, no one is in complete agreement as to which is car actually fastest. Some might say it’s still Bugatti at 267.857 mph. But ask Texas tuning shop Hennessey, and they have some choice words for the French automaker.
The Venom GT super-kit-car hit 270.4 mph in February of 2014. *Unfortunately, since the car is not considered a “production” vehicle not having built 30 units, Guinness does not recognize it as the world’s fastest production car…yet.
Photo Credits: RM Auctions