Fearsome Frenchie: 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16

Legend generally has it that the Audi Quattro dominated the World Rally Championship and the iconic Group B class of flame spitting, air catching homologation specials. But popular belief is wrong, as though the Audi was successful, it was far from the walk-over that many fans believe it was. The Quattro was challenged at every step; first from the establishment Lancia with the 037 – a rear-drive, mid-engine super-lightweight special. Lancia proved that a lightweight, better balanced design could best the nose-heavy Audi even in inclement conditions and though the four ring’s Hannu Mikkola won the driver championship in the WRC for 1983, it was the Lancia who captured the constructor’s title.

Things got more interesting in 1984, as major modifications and increasing power introduced new players to the field. The season started out where 1983 had left off, with the long-wheelbase Audi Quattro A2 and the Lancia 037 dominating the first eight rounds of the championship. Round 9, though, saw a new, unorthodox design launch. As Audi rolled out their shortened, upright and more powerful Sport Quattro, Peugeot emerged with the diminutive 205 economy hatchback. Yet it was not a front-engine, front-drive design as they’d be seen on the road; stripped, widened, and seriously turned up, the new 205 Turbo 16 was a mid-engine, all-wheel drive turbocharged revolution that would go on to dominate the Group B competition over the next two seasons.

Just how dominant was it? While the 205 Turbo 16 didn’t look or sounds as impressive as the leaping, massively winged Audis or outrageous turbocharged and supercharged Lancia Delta S4, the chassis balance, power delivery, reliability and driver combination was spot on. The results spoke for themselves; there were 29 races the 205 Turbo 16 raced in WRC before Group B ended – Peugeot won 16 of them. Audi? After the 205 was introduced, they won one. That’s right, Audi only won ONE race outright after Peugeot entered the arena. So while the Sport Quattro might be a legend, it wasn’t a particularly successful car in terms of racing. It may have come from over the border and an unusual source, but when one of the 200 homologation special 205 Turbo 16s comes up for sale, it’s something of an occasion that is worthwhile to look at – and perhaps the hottest hatch ever made:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 on eBay


Year: 1984
Model: 205 Turbo 16
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 49,911 mi
Price: $285,000 Buy It Now

1984 PEUGEOT 205 TURBO 16
–Grey Metallic with Dark/Light Grey leather/alcantara interior with Red accent, Charcoal carpeting edge Red, 5-speed manual, 48,000 Original Kilometers/29,000 Original Miles, 1 of only 200 manufactured, Original concours quality condition, Collector owned and cared for.

The Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 is the street version of the iconic Turbo 16 Group B rally-race car. Peugeot was in the process of shifting production towards smaller and sportier vehicles. Therefore, with the introduction of the new Group B rally rules of 1982, Peugeot with the help of French rally expert and race driver Jean Todt and an unlimited budget developed the 205 Turbo 16 (the big brother to the production 205 GTI) as a marketing tool, well known in the world of racing at this point in time and thus “win on Sunday – sell on Monday”. As opposed to its front engine 4-wheel drive competition the Audi Sport Quattro, the 205 Turbo 16 would be mid-engined as well as 4-wheel drive for better weight distribution and traction. For marketing purposes, it was paramount to keep most of the 205’s exterior body features as similar as possible to its production variant. The 205 Turbo 16 turned out to be the most successful Group B rally car with 16 outright rally wins and two championships, even surpassing the legendary Audi Quattro’s 13 wins and only one championship.

To enter the rally cars into Group B, Peugeot had to build 200 homologation units. Already under time pressure, Peugeot elected to make all the road cars exactly the same color and specification and all were manufactured in left-hand drive form. In March of 1984, when the time came for the 205 T16 to be homologated, Peugeot decided to line up every single one of the cars built on a massive expanse of tarmac so that the FIA inspectors could see for themselves that all the cars truly existed. Homologation was duly granted on April 1st and thus the T16 made its World Rally Championship debut in Corsica on the 3rd of May. The rest, as they say, is history.

This 205 Turbo 16 is the 189th example of the just 200 homologation cars built. It was delivered to a Mr. Quernette in Lasne, Belgium on September 15, 1985. With prices in the range of new Porsches and Ferraris, only the most dedicated fans would pay up for the Turbo 16 at the time. Mr. Quenette is believed to have used the car on weekend trips and in his almost 30-years of ownership the car covered only 45,000 kilometers.

The Peugeot was imported to the USA only a few years ago by its French-American collector. It has been used only occasionally, but has been kept in good company, in his collection of modern rally/supercars. With only to most minor signs of wear, this T16 will be as comfortable on the concours lawn as it is on the road. It is offered with its books, tools, jack and spare tire. An icon of the 1980’s Group B rally world, it is one of the most sought after Group B homologation cars and which rarely come to market, never mind in this examples current condition. This is without a doubt one of the finest of its kind in the world.

As you’d expect from a near race-ready car, the fit and finish of the road-going versions of these cars wasn’t quite up to snuff with the normal production versions. They were assembled quickly only to meet regulations, not to be a sales success. The exception to that rule is the Sport Quattro, which was finished to an exceptionally high level. Ill-fitting panels, strange gaps, orange peel and off angles all were the norm for the specials from Lancia, Ford, Toyota, Renault and Peugeot. In terms of value, the Quattros have been the ones to really take off, with some Sport Quattros besting $400,000 at auction. In fact, there’s currently is a 1985 Sport for sale at a staggering $467,000. Comparatively, for some $200,000 less this car is a relative bargain. The Peugeot might not have been as attractive or well polished as the Audi, but effective? Yes, the 205 was truly a weapon.

-Carter

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2 Comments

  1. I just want to spend a few hours touring that shop.

  2. What an aesthetically challenged little car! And I, too, find the other inventory there far more interesting.

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