1992 Venturi 400 GT: France's answer to the Porsche 911

One of 76 Venturi 400GTs modified for racing use, this 1992 example boasting unique paintwork and history is being sold in Paris next year

Founded by Claude Poiraud and Gerard Godfroy, Venturi first hit tarmac back in 1984. As two former engineers within Heuliez – a firm specialising in design for various automakers – the pair sought to compete within the firmly established supercar market. The goal was to contend with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche; in terms of exclusivity, at least.

While mainstream success eluded the Monaco-based marque, it didn’t stop innovation and persistence crafting some of the 20th century’s criminally underrated vehicles. Venturi’s most exciting foray into the world of collector cars was the 400 GT, introduced in 1992 with performance oozing from each panel. Rare and exclusive, there's a unique example up for grabs with RM Sotheby's during the auction house's Paris 2019 sale.

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The 400 GT was not only the most powerful car ever built in France at the time of its introduction, but it was (geek alert!) the first production car with carbon ceramic brakes as standard. Which came in handy when trying to keep that mid-mounted V6 in check.

As an unlikely joint venture between Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, the V6 powerplant churned out 400bhp. Such a figure may now seem lacklustre but for 1992, with the Venturi 400 GT weighing some 225kg less than a Ferrari F355, performance was blistering enough to catch media and petrolhead attention. Zero to 60mph was completed in a whisper over 5.5 seconds, with a top speed nudging 170mph.

Sadly, very few were made. Having languished in the cultural status chamber as an out-and-out curiosity by the automotive elite hell-bent on collecting Ferraris and Lamborghinis, finding one for sale is a task requiring utmost persistence. It’s why we are so excited over this example.

Ordered new by the honorary chariman of the Artcurial auction house and the man behind BMW’s art cars, Hervé Poulain purchased this Venturi 400 GT in 1992 – although registered as a 1994 model – as the 25th Venturi built.

The following year, Poulain’s 400 GT received bespoke paintwork by Jean-Yves Lacroix, supposedly inspired by the perfume ‘Pasha de Cartier’. In this livery, the car saw frequent use from 1993 to 1995, where it was driven by both Poulain and former Formula 1 driver Oliver Grouillard.

As a bonus, during this time, the car also featured in the Venturi brochure and enjoyed prominent showcasing throughout Paulain’s book about his racing cars – Mes Pop Cars.

Following the end of the Venturi’s racing career, the car was converted for road use from its earlier Trophy specification and sold to a collector in Strasbourg, subsequently purchased by the third and current owner in 2008 before being imported to Germany.

Since then, the car has been well preserved in the consignor’s collection. A service in October this year included a replacement of the clutch release bearing, as well as new brake linings and a new starter. It is accompanied by an extensive history file, which includes the original Certificat d’Immatriculation from Hervé Poulain’s ownership.

Without a doubt one of France’s most exciting cars to trumpet racing heritage, this is a Venturi with unique history that would make a solid entry into the new Masters Endurance Legends series. So, dare you take the plunge and acquire a slice of history's greatest forgotten French marque? Get a closer look here.

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