The Peugeot 205 T16 roots can be traced back to the 19th October 1981 when a certain co-driver for Talbot called Jean Todt (now better known for his success with the Ferrari F1 team) was appointed to the position of director of the newly created Peugeot Talbot Sport (PTS). One of his first roles at the company was to announce to the world’s motoring press at Peugeot’s annual December conference their plans to create a 4wd Group B rally car. It must be remembered that at this time the iconic Peugeot 205 was not on sale and therefore with the global launch being planned for 1983 the deadline was set and the choice of car agreed.
A normally aspirated 3ltr V6 was first discussed as a source of motivation although it soon became apparent that more power could be achieved from a smaller and lighter turbo charged 4 cylinder engine and it was agreed that the 1775cc diesel block was the ideal starting point. The gearbox was sourced from Peugeot’s sister company Citroen, from their DS21/SM models.
Having agreed the drive train components attention then turned to the location of the engine. The original plan was to mount it longitudinally, although this was discounted in favour of it being mounted transversely in the middle of the car. The engine and gearbox therefore became part of the car’s strength as it was attached to the rigidly mounted subframe onto which was also mounted the suspension.
The car was ready for testing early autumn 1983 and whilst being quick straight out of the box it suffered a lot of turbo lag. The arrival of former Renault engineer Jean-Pierre Boudy solved this as he introduced a Porsche designed early form of anti-lag system called pre-spin.
The car’s first event on the World Rally Championship stage came in May 1984 on the Tour de Course. It was a dream start, as by the end of the first day Ari Vatanen was 1st overall with a lead of over 5 minutes. At the close of the 2nd day due to poor tyre choice in the rain he still led but by a reduced margin of 1 ¾ minutes. Peugeot’s dream start came to an abrupt end on the first stage of the third day as in the rain Ari aquaplaned off and into retirement, although the sister car continued and came home 4th overall. The 2nd evolution (E2) of the car made its debut on the same event exactly 12 months later.
Engine : Four-cylinder, 1.8ltr, twin cam, 16 valve in-line, Transversally mounted in the mid/rear of the car, 500 bhp
Induction : Fuel Injected, Turbocharged