This is the pinnacle of speed, the fastest production cars of the past century.
Your fastest zero to sixty mph time isn’t a measure of how fast a car is. Rather, it’s a measure of how quick a car is. The title of fastest is literally that, a measure of absolute top speed. While zero to sixty runs might be more salient for the average consumer vehicle, raw top speed is the Mount Olympus of automotive excellence. Only the best of the very best make it onto this, a list of the fastest cars each year dating back 110 years.
Not only did the Duesenberg brother make some of the world’s most luxurious cars, but they also made the fastest cars, including the Model J. Powered by its massive 7-liter straight-eight, the Model J could achieve 119 mph. The Model J would stay the world’s fastest production car for a full twenty years.
The Jaguar XK120 was a sleek two-seater that looked the part of the world’s fastest car. It ran a 3.4L straight-six and reached an official top speed of 124 mph (though rumor has it the car could actually push 130 mph).
The Studebaker Avanti was a last-ditch effort from a dying automaker. Though it failed to save the company, the Avanti was a heck of a car. It’s 4.7L V8 made 290 horsepower and reached a top speed of 168.2 mph. Sadly, the Avanti was out of production in the US by the end of 1963.
The Lamborghini Miura, like the 300 SL, is notable first for its transcendent design and second for its speed. The 4.0L V12 in the Miura made 385 horsepower (a dizzying number in 1967) and allowed the world’s first supercar to achieve 171 mph. Read more about the Miura here.
The Miura P400 S snatched back the crown of world’s fastest with an even greater top speed of 179.3 mph.
The replacement for the Miura proved equally iconic and even faster. The Lamborghini Countach redefined supercar design for generations while also being the world’s fastest production car with a top speed of 182 mph.
The Porsche 959 was a money loser for Porsche. So laden with new, cutting-edge technology, the car cost more to produce than the company could sell it for. But it provided a testing ground for all manner of new tech for Porsches to come and had the distinction of the fastest car in the world with a top speed of 197 mph. Read more about the 959 here.
RUF made their name as a legendary tuning company thanks to their work making the already stellar Porsche 911 even faster. Their RUF CTR, dubbed the “Yellowbird” thanks to its bright yellow paint job, blew the doors off everything in 1988 with a top speed of 212 mph. Making it the first car on our list to crest the 200-mph mark.
But then the Bugatti EB110 arrived that same year with a 218-mph top speed.
The McLaren F1 is a marvel in innumerable ways and redefined our idea of the supercar. The BMW 6.1L V12 made 618 hp and allowed the F1 to reach 240 mph, a huge leap from the prior champ EB110. The F1 still holds the title of fastest naturally aspirated production car.
Koenigsegg might still be unknown to those outside the world of supercars, but their first production car made it plain the Swedish were serious about speed. The CCR set a new record of 241 mph to finally unset the F1. For more on Koenigsegg and their amazing cars, click here.
Koenigsegg reclaimed the top speed record with the Agera RS with it’s 5.0L twin-turbo V8 making 1,160 horsepower allowing it to reach 277.8 mph.
First to officially reach the triple century mark, the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ was designed and named for its target top speed. In 2019, the Chiron did just that, reaching a mind bending 304.7 mph.
Last year, SSC was forced to retract its claimed top speed run of 316 mph with their new Tuatara hypercar. They’ve achieved a verified top speed of 289 mph, making the Tuatara the second fastest production car. But make no mistake, they, Koenigsegg, and other supercar makers remain interested in joining Bugatti at the top of the 300-mph mountain. Given the limits of current tire technology and those of the human nervous system, we may be nearing the upper reaches of what is possible for production car top speeds (since we’ve obviously left what is sane way back with the 300 SL in 1955).