Peugeot’s Most Legendary Group B Rally Car Is For Sale
Photography Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Hot hatchbacks are something of an automotive cult, and deservedly so. They’re practical, hilariously fun to drive, and priced competitively for the common enthusiast—well, most are affordable. They’re the epitome of the “one-car-to-do-it-all” package. Today, almost every serious automaker fields a contender, from Audi’s S1 to the Volkswagen Golf R.
The recipe has evolved for decades, but has remained largely the same. These new hatchbacks are great value and, I believe, the best new car option the market has to offer. But as the saying goes, “remember where you came from,” so without further ado, I present to you one of the hottest hatches of all: the Group B 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution. And one is for sale.
In 1984, the first GTI version of the Peugeot 205 was released. Reviews praised the GTI for its nimble handling, clean but sporty appearance, and its moderate but punchy ~104 horsepower. Arriving late to the scene, the Jean Todt-led Peugeot Sport team was determined to jump into Group B. Obviously, a stock GTI wasn’t quite on par with the gravel slinging snail-fed AWD little monsters in WRC, so some slight modifications were summoned.
Group B entry requirements called for 200 homologation production vehicles. Peugeot sent a couple hundred 205 three-door shells to production firm Heuliez, who hacked the metal to accommodate the transverse mid-mounted 16-valve turbocharged iron-block four-cylinder and all-wheel-drivetrain. The widened track called for an aggressive widebody, and the usual Group B accouterments were added. A big wing and accompanying aero bits, beefed-up suspension, roll cage, and massive flares are what you can see, but its advanced suspension, braking, electronic, and drivetrain systems are really what gave the car its competitive edge.
The Peugeot Talbot Sport team completed the build for the 1985 World Rally Championship season…and set about winning six of the eleven events that very year—talk about getting up to speed! At the 53rd Monte Carlo Rally—the season’s opening stint—Peugeot entered three Turbo 16 cars for the 850-kilometer (530 miles) race. Chassis C11 was piloted by Ari Vatanen, who was into first place by the end of the first stage.
The team dominated the Monte Carlo Rally with all three Peugeots finishing within the top five, claiming victory on 21 of the 33 stages. The rest of the season went very much the same way. Unfortunately, in the third championship round hosted in Portugal, suspension failure interrupted Vatanen’s success, ending his streak of wins. After the Portuguese rally, chassis C11 was retired from WRC duty, but Vatanen continued to use the car as his recce machine in the Tour de Corse, Acropolis events, and finally as a recce car in Rallye Sanremo for driver Burno Saby.
Group B was one of the most hotly-contested one of the most daring motorsports to date. With extremely technical courses acting as a playground the world’s most competitive drivers, cars, teams, and technology, the dangers of the sport eventually crippled its future. After several accidents injuring, and killing, both spectators and drivers, the FIA dissolved the class. By the end of the “Golden Era,” Peugeot—a late participant in the sport—left Group B with both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship titles, and this little 205 here was a key player in the time of unparalleled rivalry that pushed manufacturers, engineers, and drivers to the stratosphere.
– Official Peugeot Talbot Sport WRC Team racecar
– Helped earn Peugeot the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship titles
– Victories at 1000 Lakes Rally, Rallye Sanremo, Lombard RAC Rally, Rallye Automobile de Monte Carlo, and Internaional Swedish Rally.
~350 hp, DOHC turbocharged iron-block four-cylinder, 5-speed close ratio transmission, all-wheel-drivetrain, optional “tarmac” or “gravel” suspension setups, front and rear disc brakes. Wheelbase: 95.2 inches.
Serial no.: C11