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Venturi Atlantique 300: Spotted

Quelle chance! Une belle pièce de l'histoire de l'automobile française...

By Dafydd Wood / Tuesday, May 15, 2018

At the 1984 Paris Motor Show a new French manufacturer, founded by automotive designers Gerard Godfroy and Claude Poiraud, proudly displayed its first car; the Ventury. It was warmly received and, just one year later, under the banner of MVS (Manufacture de Voitures de Sport), work on a production vehicle began. With the aim of using as many French components as possible it featured Renault Fuego side screens, Renault 5 Turbo indicators, Citroën CX rear view mirrors, and the 200hp motor from a Peugeot 505.

In 1986 the Peugeot four-pot was dropped in favour of the 2.5-litre V6 from the Renault R25 Turbo and by 1987 production of the MVS Venturi was running at a rate of four cars per week. From there the manufacturer's rise was nearly as quick as the cars it produced. In 1990 it dropped the MVS moniker and changed its name to simply 'Venturi'. In 1991 it moved to a new factory, and launched the pared-back Atlantique 260, a driver-focussed car with no air-con or radio. A year later the brand reached the pinnacle of motorsport, with the creation of the Venturi-Larousse F1 team, whilst also creating its own one make championship, the Venturi Trophy. And in 1993 seven Venturi 500LMs took part in the Le Mans 24 Hours, with five completing the race - a huge statement on home soil.

From its racing activity came the 400GT. A 415hp machine capable of reaching 60mph in just 4.6 seconds, it was the fastest and most powerful French production car then made, and will forever hold the title of the world's first production car to come with carbon brakes as standard. And in the same year, 1994, our Spotted was unveiled: the Atlantique 300.

Designed by Gerard Godfroy himself, and developed in just six months, it was powered by a 3.0-litre, 24-valve Peugeot V6 and, in naturally aspirated form, produced 210hp. A more powerful 285hp 'Biturbo' model was also offered, though, and that's what we have here today.

This particular example was the fifty-third car off the Couëron production line, and is finished in Hunter Green with 'sand' interior and a dark burr walnut trim. Looking like a beautiful blend of Esprit, 355, and a little je ne sais quoi, it's surely one of the best looking cars of its time - even more so in this spec. With just one owner in the last decade and only 55,000 miles on the clock, it seems to have lived a good life, and there's no reason to suspect that having it in your garage wouldn't make your life a little good-er too.

Despite the Atlantique's stunning looks, strong performance and excellent reviews, over indulgence in those expensive motorsport projects had left Venturi's books in a bad order; the company was bankrupt. It was saved by a Thai consortium, which attempted to turn the ailing company's fortunes around, but to no avail. Performance Car magazine reported that the Atlantique was "a more relaxing car to drive, its tidier dimensions make it easier to place, it rides more smoothly, generates far less road noise, and has a much slicker gear change. It's better built too" in a head to head test versus the Lotus Esprit V8, but the writing was already on the wall.

Nowadays, having been bought once more at the turn of the millenium, the manufacturer has turned its attention to electric performance, creating machines like the Fetish - a 300hp roadster - and competing in Formula E. For many though, its pinnacle will always be the halcyon days of the 1990's, and cars like Atlantique 300.

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