Peugeot 205 T16 - the most successful Group B rally car
In the late 1970s, rally championships became very popular among motorsport enthusiasts. One possible reason for this were great cars, in particular the Lancia Stratos or the Alpine A110 which captured the imagination of fans across the world. However, the best of the racing cars was yet to come. Yes, we are talking about the famous Group B class of the World Rally Championship (WRC) with outrageously fast and dangerous cars which started in 1984. Though all the Group B cars, produced by Audi, Lancia, Ford, MG and others, went on to become legends, Peugeot 205 T16 was the most successful of them all.
Great rivals motivated Peugeot to create a fantastic car
Peugeot was a well-known name in the world of rally championships, with various models and a number of wins, but when the Group B cars were announced, the factory realized that it needed to up its game. What Peugeot really wanted was a car with new, full racing specs; a model that could compete with the likes of the Audi Quattro and Lancia 037 Rally. Basically, what it needed was a small, compact car which could be modified extensively.
Peugeot 205 T16 had a completely different layout
In 1983, Peugeot introduced the 205 model, a small hatchback with its engine in front and a front-wheel drive. The 205 was a cheap economy model and didn’t look like it had the base on which a rally beast could be built. However, Peugeot’s engineers had different ideas. In order to race in the newly-formed Group B, they needed at least 200 examples of the homologation special and very soon, Peugeot introduced the 205 Turbo 16 street version with a totally different design and drivetrain layout which was clearly meant for racing.
Only the headlights were from the road car
The 205 T16 had a turbocharged engine in the rear of the car, it was one of the four-wheel type cars, had a totally new chassis, suspension, body panels and altered wheelbase. In fact, the only thing that the standard model and the T16 shared were the headlights and the Peugeot badge at the front of the car. It was noisy and impractical with the obvious turbo lag in the engine.
Peugeot 205 T16 had the same price as Ferrari
The 205 T16 was not actually ideal for the street, even if one decided to put license plates on it! It was unabashedly a hardcore racing car and was made to use the engine and other parts to their maximum capacity. The price for the 205 T16 was roughly the same as for Ferrari 308 GTB, which was insane but the T16 was a race-ready hand-built machine.
The little monster’s specifications dictated over 500 horsepower
The rally career of the 205 T16 started in 1984 and right away, the little Peugeot displayed great potential. To start with, it had a lot more power than the standard version and racing examples had over 500 horsepower (the street version had 200 bhp). With a lighter body and excellent components, the 205 T16 Rally was sublimely fast.
Video : Road test of the Peugeot 205 T16
The record number of victories
Pretty soon, the T16 started its winning streak. Its first victory came in 1984 at 1000 Lakes Rally in the hands of the experienced Finish driver Ari Vatanen. From that point until the end of 1986, the 205 T16 Rally won 16 rallies from 28 starts which was a record for the whole Group B.
Driven to two championship victories two years in a row
This distinction made this little rally monster the most successful of them all. In fact, Peugeot even went on to win the 1985 and 1986 constructors’ and drivers’ titles. Interestingly, Finnish drivers tasted the most success in this car. Apart from Ari Vatanen, Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen also scored victories in this car. There was only one French driver who managed to win in Peugeot 205 T16 – Bruno Saby who won the Tour De Corse in 1986.