Rare French 90s Gran Turismo Icon is King of the Boutique Supercars

Photography: Drew Manley

  • Back in the 90s, Venturi was a French car manufacturer that produced boutique, supercar-adjacent models aimed at rivaling Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Porsche.
  • The 400 Trophy remains the crown jewel of Venturi’s lineage and still remains one of the highest-performing French cars ever produced.
  • Boasting a 408hp V6 biturbo engine, the 400 Trophy was capable of a 181mph top speed and seemed to borrow its styling from the F40 playbook.
  • Only 15 dedicated street versions and 73 racing units were ever built.
  • Portions of the latter were converted to street examples after their racing campaigns were finished, including this example from RMC Miami which represents only the fourth to enter the United States.

The term boutique comes with mixed implications. In the fashion industry, it can be regarded as ultra-high-end, an unwavering pillar of quality and detail amidst dignified air. In the automotive realm, the same label can more often reference a fundamental quirkiness, both in styling and reliability.

It’s strange how the same verbiage can evoke such opposite emotions, but decades of reinforcement have paved that fate for motivated upstarts like Ascari, Lister, Morgan, and TVR, who aimed to topple the established order. There have been rare exceptions to the rule, like Pagani and McLaren, who have found their place in the spotlight after years of thinking differently. But there’s one model, plucked from the history books of motorsport history, that likely deserves loftier praise than it has received: the Venturi 400 Trophy.


Venturi’s corporate story started like most ambitious boutique car companies: with a mission to take on the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Porsche — the undisputed best from each region. I’ll spare you the tales of Venturi’s lineage, but it was nearly a decade of intriguing PRV (Peugeot – Renault – Volvo) powered GT cars before the Monaco-based company struck gold with the 400 Trophy. Similar to the BMW M1 Procar, the 400 Trophy was the star of its own single-make series. 73 cars in totality were created, all of which were active participants in the gentleman’s series before a handful were converted to road-going examples.

Yet, because of that diminutive production run, many have never heard of the 400 Trophy. If it weren’t for a standalone appearance in Gran Turismo 2, and the COVID-inspired, spirited hunt for pure driving machines, the car would surely be relegated to a fable by now.


Taking in the whole of the 400 Trophy’s proportions, especially at speed, it looks like a not-so-distant relative of the Ferrari F40. Indeed, save for the wheelbase — which is nine inches shorter — the doorstop-shaped measurements, all the way to the pronounced rear wing, are quite familiar. It’s only once the car is parked that you’re able to admire all of the very quirky, very 90s, and very transcontinental supercar styling cues.

Remove the rear clamshell and you’re greeted with a 408hp twin-turbo V6 that could propel the 2,400lbs Venturi to 181mph. But if the 600LM hood, NACA-duct-equipped Lexan rear deck, adjustable carbon airfoil, elaborate intake system, and revised exhaust were any indication, this particular example isn’t exactly stock. The PRV 3.0TT 24v engine was taken apart and refreshed. A Motec M48, two HKS RB26 GT-SS turbines, an upgraded fuel system, custom-built Öhlins with swift springs, and a massive set of Ferrari 360 Challenge racing brakes were added, too.


A look inside affirms the engine’s motorsport intent. While previous Venturi cars were known for their luxurious appointments, the 400 Trophy didn’t even have power windows or floor carpets. Allow your eyes to glance upward and minimalist becomes utilitarian; there are switches and gauges aplenty and a precariously exposed fuse box in case you need to troubleshoot your electronics on the fly. The standard analog tach has been swapped for a digital Motec unit here to splay all the crucial information front and center.

With all the bits, bobs, and knobs, the start button is perhaps the most elusive find. A few flicks and a firm press of that discrete black start button evoke a guttural hum from that aforementioned V6. It isn’t as immediately theatrical as a naturally-aspired V12, but the shove you feel once those turbos spool up is addicting. It’s almost mandatory that you commit the 400 Trophy’s face to memory because the rear is the predominant view if you’re lucky enough to see one in person — this is only the fourth to ever make it stateside.


It was only fitting that the car would end up at RMC Miami (Real Muscle Cars Miami), the definitive destination for rare and collectible cars from all around the world. But how it actually got there started with a set of BBS E88s. Danny from RMC happened upon a rare set of these wheels — 1 of 5 sets ever — that his friend had originally bought to run on his Ferrari 360. When he discovered that the bore size was unusually small, BBS confirmed that it was indeed one of a handful built specifically for the French supercar. Danny had lusted over the Venturi since its Gran Turismo 2 days, so he bought the wheels and told him that he’d find a car to put them on.

Danny’s penchant for weird and wild cars eventually led him to this one in Japan. He remarked, “At the time I knew immediately it was for me but the owner was not keen on selling the car overseas so we went on for months trying to convince him. After a year, he gave in after seeing how we handle the cars and how important it was that we bring their history to light to find the right custodian.”

After being converted from competition use, this car was shipped to Japan in 1993 and painted red where the previous owner enjoyed it for many years. Danny from RMC Miami continues, “This particular car has been set up for ‘morning exercise’ as they call it in Japan. The suspension and cooling shine the faster the car goes. Turn in and brake bite is dialed into perfection and it feels incredibly stable at over 200+kmh.”

Like so many other RMC Miami cars, this Venturi Trophy is beyond special. As its Best Motoring feature would suggest, the car is the nearest thing you can get to a Ferrari F40 for a fraction of the price. It’s a car that needs to be experienced to know why this is “the one”. Whoever writes the next chapter in this Venturi Trophy’s saga is in rare company, to say the least. For me, I’ll be dusting off my old Playstation 2 to get a few Special Stage Route 5 laps in behind the wheel.