Niche vehicle manufacturer takes climatic testing away from the lab to put its vehicles through “fire and ice” endurance tests
American vehicle modification specialist, Hennessey has embarked on its “Fire & Ice” durability testing programme to push the vehicles it manufacturers to the limit in real environments rather than climate controlled laboratories. The multi-venue programme tests its re-engineered vehicles, including the Ford-based Hennessey VelociRaptor 600, to extreme cold and hot temperatures while driving under brutal conditions.
In its most recent challenge, Hennessey pitted the large SUV against shifting dunes and temperatures exceeding 40°C in an arid Southern California desert. Utilising its enhanced torque, the vehicle tackled extreme inclines to climb 100m high dunes, plus underwent punishing high-speed driving tests. The Hennessey engineering team also pushed the VelociRaptor’s powertrain and suspension to its limit, sprinting up steep dunes and executing multiple high-speed jumps.
According to John Hennessey, the company founder and CEO, the Texas-based company builds around 500 high-performance vehicles every year for customers who rightfully expect mainstream manufacturer levels of quality, reliability and service together with an ability to withstand extreme conditions.
“Our torturous Fire & Ice programme is the real-world culmination of hundreds of hours of research, development and lab testing that each model line undergoes at our Texas headquarters. Our goal is to combine ultimate performance with complete peace of mind,” he says.
Hennessey’s exhaustive testing evaluates the performance of each vehicle’s upgrades, from engine and suspension to tyres and exhaust. Conducting these tests in extreme environments – often more challenging than any owner will attempt – ensures that customers will have confidence in the vehicle.
The desert test occurred at the Glamis Sand Dunes, California’s largest mass of windblown sand. The dune system extends more than 40 miles across the state’s southeast in a band averaging five miles wide. The hot weather tests followed a set of cold-weather tests that the Hennessey VelociRaptor 600 and Mammoth 1000 TRX underwent in the freezing mountains of Colorado. There, with temperatures dipping below -12°C, the trucks explored their limits of grip while evaluating the performance of the upgraded engines, intake systems and exhausts.
Testing for all Hennessey models begins at the company’s headquarters in Sealy, Texas. Under the guidance of Hennessey Director of R&D Jason Haynes, each model line is subjected to hundreds of hours of research and development. This helps guarantee that Hennessey upgrades enhance every aspect of the vehicle while retaining complete usability and manufacturer driving modes.
After lab-based evaluation, development moves to Hennessey’s various on-site dynamometer bays for live assessment. The final phase sees development models put through their paces at the Pennzoil Proving Ground at Hennessey’s headquarters to evaluate the modifications in the real world. Even after each model line is signed-off, every customer vehicle undergoes its series of quality assurance tests, including a detailed test drive by Hennessey’s engineers.
Customers of Hennessey are also invited to the Texas HQ to see the final testing phase, with many experiencing their new vehicle for the first time on the Pennzoil Proving Ground.