Rally heroes: Andy Reid’s Peugeot 205 Maxi
How an 'incident' with a crane prompted the build of this 200bhp front-wheel drive T16-style rally weapon
The Audi Quattro and Lancia Delta may be the most revered cars of the Group B generation, but ultimately it was the Peugeot 205 that gathered the richest trophy collection.
The factory 205 T16s that competed in the World Rally Championship’s most hallowed era were the most successful of their time. In 1985 and ’86, the car won both Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles with icons Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen driving.
Even today, there’s no shortage of 205s in national rallying. Bar a couple of Rallye editions, cars found in the paddock are almost always GTI models – whether 1.6 or 1.9-litre – and even then not all examples are purebred. With GTI prices continually rising, bodyshells are often sourced from more humble models and then built into go-faster replicas.
There’s good reason for the 205’s popularity. Besides its attractive bodywork and Group B glamour, it offers handling like that of a scaled-up go-kart. The original Volkswagen Golf GTI may be seen as the father of all hot hatches, but the 205 is arguably a greater driving experience.
A 205 Maxi, though? That’s an altogether rarer breed, as Andy Reid will attest. And while his car didn’t get to compete in Rockingham Speedway’s recent Sunday Stages due to a dusting of snow that prematurely called time on the rally, even stationary in the service area the Maxi still attracted attention.
Andy explains: ‘I bought this car 14 years ago as a 205 1.6, and since then it’s done hundreds of rallies. It’s now turned into this, having been Maxi-ed only eight years ago.’
That came after an accident in which it hit a crane backwards: ‘It was just a slight nudge,’ Andy jokes.
The saving grace was that the shell wasn’t a complete write-off, only requiring extensive repairs to the rear end. As a result, the car isn’t a full ‘Trigger’s Broom’ special.
‘It is also now 75mm wider at each corner. Pretty much everything else is as it was when new,’ continues Andy. ‘It runs coil-over suspension all round, with turrets in the back. It still has the Peugeot rear beam, but with new springs and shocks.’
In Maxi guise, the car now uses the marque’s 1905cc Mi16 motor borrowed from the fast variant of the 405 saloon.
‘It produces 200bhp or so, with 180lb ft of torque, and that goes through a manual, five-speed, H-pattern ’box. It’s still front-wheel drive and it’s very go-kart like in the right conditions. In the snow, it does nothing…
‘We run vented discs all round, and they’re awesome. However, you need the stopping power because you have to trail brake all the time to get the most out of the car, because it’s so big and wide.
‘Trail braking almost stretches out the Maxi, and so it’s more stable through the high-speed corners. It slides around like a rear-wheel-drive car, but it’s predictable as well.’
To help dial in the handling traits, Andy has also changed the wheelbase: ‘I’ve even moved the front wheels forward a bit to put more weight towards the back.’
With livery that features splashes of blue, red and even a Shell logo that hark back to the Group B-era 205s, it’s not hard to see why his Maxi catches the eye.
Images courtesy of Kevin Money