Peugeot 405 T16: The ultimate rally car

After a bitter defeat at Pike Peak the year in 1987, Peugeot created an extreme rally car to set a record time at the event. The 405 T16 remains one of the most ballistic cars ever made.

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They say that war is the mother of invention, and that is very true in the case of motorsport. When Peugeot were defeated by Audi’s Quattro S1 at the Pikes Peak “Race to the Clouds” event in 1987, it gave the French team the determination to build a monster that would dominate the following year. The Peugeot 405 T16.

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Peugeot’s 205 T16 rally car was a true masterpiece that became one of the most successful Group B cars over the final two years of the class. Both Audi and Peugeot decided to enter the ’87 Pikes Peak event with variations of their Group B rally cars, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown. Audi’s specially prepared Quattro, piloted by rally ace Walter Röhrl, defeated a trio of 205 T16s to become the first car to reach the summit in under 11 minutes.

Peugeot were hugely disappointed as they had gone to such effort to try and secure victory. Engineers worked out that a longer wheelbase would have helped the 205’s stability in the event, but previous attempts to modify the car resulted in a distorted shape. It was decided that for the 1988 Pikes Peak event that a longer chassis was needed, something that was facilitated by the Peugeot 405. This new model was larger than the 205 hatchback and would benefit from the motorsport spotlight when it came to sales in the showroom.

Rallying was soon to transition into the new Group S specification that put a greater emphasis on lightweight materials and innovative technologies. Sadly, Group S would be canceled with the disbanding off Group B on safety grounds, but Peugeot saw the ‘88 Pikes Peak event as a great opportunity to make use of the hardware it had been working on.

Enter the Peugeot 405 T16, a car designed to right the wrongs of Peugeot Sport’s previous year. Not only was the T16 exceptionally light (less than 900kg) but it also featured innovations such as mechanical rear-wheel steering and an adjustable centre differential. A new mid-mounted 1.9-litre XU9T powered all four wheels with between 650-800bhp dependant on its turboboost setting.

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