While the Venturi brandname was revived in the name of electric mobility a few years ago, the original company, formed in 1984, was quite different. Started by two former engineers from French coachbuilder Heuliez, Venturi's goal was to beat the British, the Germans and the Italians at the sports car game, using turbocharged PRV V6s and a whole lot of fiberglass.
Venturi progressed from Golf GTI-powered roadsters towards launching its own private racing series, giving 73 rich individuals the option of purchasing the race-ready, mid-engined 400 Trophy (pictured above) in 1994. Six races were held in the first season, taking these 400-horsepower cars to Le Mans, Pau, Magny-Cours, Paul Richard, Dijon and the Nürburgring.
Venturi also built 13 examples of a road-going version, called the 400 GT, although quite a few Trophy cars were made street legal once the race series was finished. With only 86 units ever made, the Venturi 400 is a rare sight indeed, but funny enough, I saw roughly ten years ago. Back in the nineties, a young Jeremy Clarkson put one to the test against the rear-engined Alpine A610.
Clarkson called the Venturi “special” with "no sign of kit car-ishness," complete with "one of the finest interiors he has ever been in." He also said it had a steering system so communicative like it was "yelling through a megaphone."
When Top Gear got revamped five years later with a shorter-haired Clarkson and two extra presenters, the main man called the Venturi "rubbish" while revisiting the French duo. Which of course is still much nicer than what he had to say about the Alpine, which somehow ended up smashing into a concrete barrier during his review.
Why do I bring this up right now?
Well, because somebody brought a Venturi 400 Trophy to the Spa Classic 2017 during the Global Endurance Legends track session. The car seen here is chassis 057, powered by that mighty PRV 3.0 twin-turbo, still pumping out 400 horses at 7200 rpm. If only the DeLorean's PRV V6 had that much!