By on June 1, 2016

2014 Hennessey Venom

I hate it when people get ripped off. And judging by your reaction to Bark’s piece last week about a dealer in Florida, you hate it too.

The latest con job to be posted to the Interwebs involves someone who’s no stranger to crime: John Hennessey. The Texas-based tuner of extraordinary supercars, Hennessey Performance Engineering, might not be building cars as exclusive as it purports — that is if it builds them at all, reports Jalopnik.

The latest swindle involving Hennessey, who owns HPE, begins with a foreign customer named All Ahmad Ali.

All Ahmad Ali wanted was a Chevrolet Corvette souped up to have enough horsepower to defibrillate God. To realize this dream, the Qatari went to one of the most famous names in the car tuning business: John Hennessey. But three years later, he is still fighting Hennessey Performance Engineering for more than $70,000 of a refund for a car he said he never got. And numerous ex-HPE employees told Jalopnik that Ali wasn’t alone—that the man and his famed tuning company are engaging in a litany of deceptive business practices.

This began the unravelling process of delayed customer orders, refused refunds, and counterfeit parts. The company’s former CEO is currently engaged in legal action with HPE. Some ex-HPE employees claim that customer cars would sit around for months or years before being touched, and that money paid by foreign customers was sometimes used to pay for work performed on other projects.

It’s a huge story, and not one that’s easily summarized without stealing Jalopnik’s thunder, so you should probably head over there to give it a read.

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43 Comments on “John Hennessey Again Earns His ‘Crook’ Badge...”


  • avatar

    The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is the fastest, most powerful, street-legal, production car in the world.

    The Venom GT is a cobbled-together tuner car that in no way comes close to the Veyron.

    I didn’t know that my Youtube video about the argument between these 2 cars would be my first “1 million view” video.

    Nor did I realize that a 4-minute rant would return $100 a month and earn me the attention of every Hennessey fanboy in the Hemisphere.

    1500 views a day on that one.

    It’ll take more than a Lotus on steroids to challenge the almighty Veyron…let alone Chiron.

  • avatar
    Zeitgeist

    Maybe his name is Ahmad Ali and the Corvette was all he wanted.

  • avatar
    ValidUsername

    Why would you link to the site that most of us came here to get away from? Jalopnik is sketchy pseudo-journalism designed for people with short attention spans that secretly hate driving. I’ve lurked TTAC for a few years because I thought it was one of the few websites immune to viral marketing.

    I guess I was wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      The automotive sites have trouble generating content and getting views/clicks for steady income.

      I don’t have that problem.

      When I’m Editor-in-Chief, I’m gonna make TTAC great again.

      Mind you: it was the “flying vagina Tribeca B9” comment that brought me here.

    • 0 avatar
      BiturboS4

      In this case, the story does appear to be the result of good reporting and earnest work over at Jalopnik. It’s even more significant that the story was posted there, due to the high volume and normally superficial focus level of the site. It’s worth a read.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Low hanging fruit. Hennessy is an easy target for investigative reporting. I’m honestly surprised the company has managed to stay in business for so long given its reputation for shoddy underhanded work all these years.

    • 0 avatar

      Because, as Biturbo says, Jalopnik actually did some investigative journalism on this. It was a pretty high-quality article that required thought and time to put together. I think that’s what TTAC stands for, which is why it linked to it. Calm down.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Not to excuse Hennessey’s transgressions in any way, whatsoever, but this is what happens in automotive-tuner-anything frivolous ‘bubble times,’ when the mother’s milk of central bank manna flows uniquely disproportionately and singularly by “fixed” methods to the top one-twentieth of one percent.

    It’s no different with large boat (nay, yacht) sales, custom, large homes, etc. – I’m not talking about peeps buying black Range Rovers on debt payments in trendy American Suburbs; those are wage-slave poker’s and not asset harvesters that central bankers enrich.

    When there’s torrents of fiat paper unlocked for and directed towards MAYBE 17,000,000 (globally) out of the 5 billion people in developed and emerging markets (most of these 17,000,000 who are in high paying, do-hardly-anything-if-anything-of-value-and-probably-many-thing-destroying-things financial sector jobs or FIRE jobs), there’s too much demand and any small-scale operation at Hennessey (the same flood occurs that allows Koenigsegg to summarily raise timepiece of a O e:1 from 2 million to 3.9 million USD) has the leeway to pull these unethical antics.

    • 0 avatar

      Now you understand why people like me go for a HELLCAT when there’s all these ricers talking smack about their rice rocket’s power.

      It’s because WHEN THEIR CAR IS IN THE SHOP mine’s not- and when it finally does go to the shop, I have a:

      W A R R A N T Y

      Mopar 8-year coverage $2500

      Icing on a HELLCAKE.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        Different strokes for different folks.

        A 700 horsepower 2JZ can be had for ~5k or less if a person can build their own engine. Pop that bad boy into a clean Lexus SC and they can have a 700 horsepower car for less than 20k.

        I’ll omit the LS because you addressed ricers.

        Now how much is a HELLCAT OTD? 80k?

        The whole appeal of tuning cars is the cost effectiveness, the trade off is time and expertise.

        Dollar for dollar, there are many cars that will eat your hellcat alive in any sort of race.

        Not to mention, the 8 year coverage costs more than many motorcycles that are a good set of tires away from out-accelerating any HELLCAT that’s ever existed.

        Is your hellcat a worse car because any liter bike can crack out a faster 1/4 mile? Not anymore than your car is better than a tuner car that makes the same power for 1/4th the price.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Pop that bad boy into a clean Lexus SC and they can have a 700 horsepower car for less than 20k.”

          with turbo lag you can measure using a calendar. Giant wheel Toyotas and Skylines are nothing more than dyno queens.

          Q: What do a 500 hp Supra and a 1,000 hp Supra have in common?

          A: Their 1/4 mile times!

          • 0 avatar
            yamahog

            Still faster than a stock HELLCAT tho – most Supras are high-11s and stock HELLCATs are low-12s (according to the rags at least).

            And Aside from the mk.4 Supra, all the bodies that can accept a 2JZ are cheaper than the powertrain.

            Lastly, 11/12 second bikes are very cheap and 10 second bikes aren’t that much more expensive. And you can get a 9 second bike for less than 10k, and you can get them brand new for 14k. so as long as that performance value is out there, I don’t know why someone who holds money dear would spend a ton of money to go fast in a straight line.

            Different strokes for different folks but you can get a SRT392 / Scat Pack Dodge and a ZX-14 for the price of a HELLCAT.

            The 6.4 l hemi isn’t a slouch and the ZX-14 does 1/4 miles faster than a HELLCAT on drag radials.

            Don’t want to ride a bike? Pay to play. In this case. pay a lot more money to get a significantly slower vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The Charger Hellcat is a factory-built 4600lbs sedan that can go 204 mph. And, it’s on a chassis that came out in 2006. And, it’s basically a rental car in SE form. Imagine if the Marauder or Impala SS could go 200 mph.

            The Charger HC personally impresses me more than any quarter mile time from a built Lexus or the 0-100 time in a liter bike.

            BigTruck is annoying and I have plenty of reason to dislike FCA products, but if I had ~$80k, I’d buy one and look forward to the Texas Mile every year.

        • 0 avatar
          qfrog

          3 points to yamahog for being outside the free throw line and sinking it.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s basically badge whoring.

          Anyone who pulls up along side me knows exactly what I’ve got.

          I don’t have to lie about my output like these turkeys at car shows.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        I got the lifetime bumper-to-bumper for about that. Of course, not a Hellcat, but the dealer gave me the full plan for the price of the lower coverage when I pointed out I could buy it direct interest-free.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    People have been ranting about this for YEARS. Back when he started tuning Vipers, there were stories in the print rags about how he was doing shady stuff like robbing Peter to pay Paul, e.g. taking parts from one customer’s car to finish another customer’s car.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve seen posts attributed to him on forums, and if it is indeed him, he needs to not post there. It does not help his case in the ones I’ve seen.

  • avatar

    And this is another reason I refuse to leave deposits unless I already see what I want in the showroom.

    I could have had a HELLCAT built to order, but after the deposit ripoff shenanigans I would never.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Do any of these folks research companies before they just write a check to them?

    Lmao Hennessey Performance Engineering actually has a paragraph under the subheader called “Controversy” on Wikipedia. On Wikipedia for Christ’s sakes. Gee, let’s just write them a check right now!!!

    I’m no self-made millionaire by any means but I do know that you investigate a business thoroughly before doing business with that kind of coin involved. Check their financials. Ask for references. Run a Dunn and Bradstreet… gee, maybe after seeing that there are numerous liens against a company including several open investigations for potential fraud… you might consider taking your business elsewhere.

    Research, kids. And if you don’t know how to research them on your own, turn to a trusted colleague. Get other folks involved. If I’m dropping thousands on vehicle modifications (which, #1, sounds completely irrational right off the bat to most folks), I’m getting a sh*tload of industry insight to say the very least.

    It’s horrible to get swindled by what is supposed to be a legit company, agreed wholeheartedly. No doubt. But it sounds like Ali could have done some research on his part.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. Hennessey took this guy for a ride, but it sounds like he may have dropped the ball as well.

    I’m not advocating corruption. That being said, it is 2016. Folks are more money hungry then ever before, and business are striving to cut corners and make an extra buck more than ever. Sometimes, the actions of big business can be borderline criminal while STILL being legal!

    Think about who you hand over your hard earned money to. It doesn’t hurt to be skeptical of folks sometimes, you know.

    I swear, in recent years especially… the victim cup runneth over. *Everyone’s* a victim. Gets old after a while. Sheesh, you got burned… yet you were playing with fire the whole time!

    The older generation would call that a tough lesson learned, slap you upside the head, and tell you to grow a pair. Man, I miss those days. And to make matters worse- that older generation is a dying breed. Sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      A fool and his money are soon parted… which begs the question.

      “How did a fool get money in the first place?”

      • 0 avatar
        06V66speed

        Spot on, Principal Dan. Makes you wonder.

        • 0 avatar
          55_wrench

          Inheritance.

          And often that kind of money only lasts 3 generations. By the third generation, the fire in the belly of the founder is gone, replaced only by what the grandkids can get from the trust.

          I’m poor. (Hat tip to Walter Matthau)

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        In any totalitarian state, of which America have long since become one, it is of outmost importance for the ruling clique to ensure the only ones with enough wealth to form a threat, are the ones who are too stupid to do much with the wealth.

        While those with the innate capacity to threaten, are too resource poor to do so.

        Hence, fiat currencies, bailouts, central banks and all manners of similar idiocies, aimed at stripping productive, hence potentially threatening, people of what they own, for the benefit of sycophantic halfwits in banking/finance and hangers on “industries.” Ditto for ever greater volumes of ever more childish laws and regulations, keeping lawyers, apparatchiks and similar less-than-altogether-literates living in well indoctrinated, know nothing splendor.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      HPE is well known, which may explain some of this. But, still…

  • avatar

    No way no how am I heading over to the cesspool of Jalopnik to read this.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      You don’t like the constant .gifs of accidents, music selection suggestions, military articles by Tyler Rogoway, wholly-not-related-to-anything-automotive political screeds, pre-pubescent peanut gallery/commentariat, daily vehicle or other inanimate object that “gives zero f*cks,” or other AHHHHMAZING! things that are equivalent to automotive pressitution at Manufacturer SlobKnobJobNik?

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      I like reading Black Flag with a feed reader. Don’t have to read the bs comments. Also I’m okay with being pointed to a specific article.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I used to frequent Autoblog, and on any article about Hennessey you were guaranteed to get comments related to parts from customers’ cars being stolen to fix or finish another one, people being swindled, etc. People should be getting the Harris County DA’s office and the Texas Attorney General’s office involved, if they want Hennessey investigated.

    • 0 avatar
      06V66speed

      Well Sir Duke, the silver lining in this fiasco is that given the “victim” has that kind of money just to throw at modifying his ‘Vette, then he likely has that kind of money just to throw at legal counsel.

      Furthermore, here in Missouri, you can actually look up people by their names on something called “Missouri Case Net”. Any upcoming/open court dates are actually made public. Not sure if the court docket is public record down in TX as well, but if it was… I’d imagine this John Hennessey fellow has got quite the rap sheet. Lol

  • avatar
    Bazza

    Jalopnik and Autoblog have been shills for this huckster’s game a while now, running frequent “articles” that were nothing more than PR copy for whatever vaporware he was pushing at the moment. EVERY SINGLE TIME they ran that crap, commenters would gently chime in to remind everyone that he was/is a crook, and EVERY SINGLE TIME they would have their comments shouted down or deleted. “Old news” don’tcha know. Well, I guess his checks bounced at Jalopnik (and God knows they need every penny they can scam), so now the knives have come out. Autoblog hasn’t piled on yet so maybe his money is still good there.

    At some point this bozo is going to irk the wrong dude and get slapped with an interstate fraud indictment.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Hennessey also stopped local drag races because it was too much of a bother.

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