Midway through the now-legendary Group B era of rallying, Peugeot slung a homologated version of its cute 205 headlong into a fierce battle between Audi and Lancia. However, the T16 had strayed so far from its shopping runabout antecedent that Peugeot was soon to dominate.
Audi had already won the 1984 World Rally Championship by the time the 205 T16 (standing for Turbo, 16-valve) arrived on the scene. Using the famous Quattro, the Germans once again took the title back to Ingolstadt, with Lancia having marginally snatched it the season before with the 037.
Rather than using the same configuration as either of its main competitors (the Audi was front-engined, 4WD; the Lancia mid-engined, RWD), Peugeot employed an amalgamation of both. Mounting the 1775cc, 4-cylinder engine centrally and sending power to all corners gave the 205 T16 excellent balance and tractive abilities, but of course this made it very different from the car it was derived from.
To meet Group B homologation rules, 200 road-going versions were produced, complete with the ‘pop-up’ rear which provided easy access to the turbo four – tuned to around 200bhp in street form. Although modest in comparison to the 400bhp+ possessed by the full-blown rally car, the T16 retained the tubular spaceframe, glassfibre bodywork and fancy centre differential which gave its rallying counterpart such nimble handling. All 200 of the grey-only homologation cars were reportedly sold at a loss.
The competition monster they gave licence to won three of the final four events of its inaugural season, sending out a clear message about its future intentions. Despite countermeasures from Audi, the little T16 dominated during the following two seasons, a reign only brought to end by the termination of the Group B class by the FIA. As a result, the 205 T16 is one of the last true legends from the golden era of rallying.
The example in these photos is currently on sale at Classic Driver dealer Mark Donaldson Ltd. It’s one of the 200 homologation cars, in original configuration bar the WRC livery. You can view the full advert here.