A rear wing heavily inspired by the F40, boxy lines and a 3.0 litre V6. Combine these attributes with a total curb weight of 1140 kg and you will end up with an impressive car meant to please the fearcest of daredevils. Mind you, we’re talking about a French car that went for sale in 1993, back when F40s and Diablos reigned the streets (We’re not even going to talk about the F1 McLaren since, well it’s the F1 McLaren. There’s no explaining to do).
However, when we think of French cars our memories gravitate to boring, soulless Renaults, Citroëns and Peugeots. Completely forgetting their motorsport heritage and past.
Contrary to what we think about French cars, France has enjoyed a long history of motorsport. Home to huge names like the 24 hours of Le Mans and Paris-Dakar. It is also home to some of the very first organised motor races like the Paris - Rounen race which took place on July 22, 1894. Around that time three major french manufacturers; Peugeot (1896), Renault (1899) and Bugatti (1904) started producing cars. Citroën joined the industry right after WWI. These brands produced some of the most exciting automobiles known to mankind.
Manufacture de Voitures de Sport; Venturi
In 1984, two french engineers started a company in Monaco called Manufacture de Voitures de Sport (MVS). Their purpose was to compete in the GT market with the new brand Venturi. However, the GT market at that time was mostly dominated by Germany with the Mercedes SEC and BMW 6 series and 8 series. Italians tried to tap into that market but lacked the build-quality german cars had. Wanting to restore the glorious days of french performance cars, the french automaker faced many challenges ranging from an unknown name to its under-capitalized and under-staffed company state. Venturi did nonetheless manage to continue in production for nearly sixteen years. Production began in 1987, when the first five cars rolled out of the factory. From 1987 to the 2000s, they built mid-engined coupes and roadsters with turbocharged PRV engines (V6) and Renault gearboxes. Engine power ranged from 200 to 260 hp. The PRV engine was used in a variety of cars between 1974 and 1988 including the Citroën SM and DeLorean DMC-12.
Atlantique 400 GT
The Venturi 400 GT was introduced in 1993 and featured a PRV 2.975 cc DOHC twin-turbo V6 engine producing 300 kW / 402 hp at 6000 rpm and 520 Nm. These figures made the 400 GT powerful enough to compete with the Porsches and Ferraris of the early 90s. The car could hit 100 km/h in 4,7 seconds and continue to reach a top speed of 275 km/h. It was the very first car that received carbon brakes as standard from factory. Venturi built around 70-80 units and only 13 examples of these cars were road-going versions, although quite a few Trophy (race) cars were made street legal once the race series was finished. Construction is made of steel tube/box section with a fiberglass body, helping to keep the weight low. Featuring fully independent suspension both front and back, the car was no slouch on track.
Classic Japanese motoring footage
Venturi 400 GT Trophy at Spa-Francorchamps