Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 – Group S Prototype

Published on: Dec 29, 2016 @ 17:38
(C) Jay Auger - website owner & author
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Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 – Presentation Version


In 1985, the FISA (former ruling committee of the FIA) announced a possible replacement class to Group B that was referred to as “Group S”. The new regulations would require only 10 cars for homologation and was essentially a “prototype” class for rallying. The class was originally scheduled to make its debut on January 1st 1988, then as a heavily revised and forceful replacement to Group B for 1987, but both were ultimately cancelled. To learn much more about the history of Group S, please CLICK HERE!


205 T16 “E3” – The Prelude to the 405 T16

For the Group S replacement formula, Peugeot Talbot Sport (PTS) initially wanted to perform what could be considered a third evolution (E3) of the 205 Turbo 16. The main improvement planned for the car was in the drivetrain system. A new transmission was in development which would be equipped with a driver adjustable centre differential to balance front to rear torque distribution on the fly. This feature was also marketed to the FISA as a safety measure since properly setting the balance of the car accordingly to road conditions would help make the car easier to drive. This system is sometimes referred by insiders as “Peugeot’s Group S transmission”. The car would also have received new aerodynamic enhancements, again mainly for stability. For the rest, the rally car would have simply been adapted to the new regulations pertaining to engine displacement with restrictor plate and minimum weight.

205 T16 “Pikes Peak” (1987)

By then, even though the 205 T16 had been very successful, the French engineers had always seen an inherent flaw with the car: the wheelbase. At 100 inches it already was one of the longest among Group B cars, but more stability could be gained by stretching it even further. However, this proved to be almost impossible since the wheelbase was ultimately limited by the 205 model’s exterior design. PTS team boss Jean Todt specified that this was a factor in the team’s loss to Audi at Pikes Peak even though they fielded a fleet of three specially prepared 205 T16 PP – which essentially were “E3″s by incorporating most of the parts planned to equip the stillborn Group S rally car.

205 T16 “Grand Raid” (1987)

The adventure to fix the wheelbase issue first started in late 1986 with a special version of the 205 T16 made specifically for the Paris-Dakar endurance race. The chassis was reinforced substantially and elongated by 12 inches (30 cm) between the engine and the passenger compartment which allowed to accommodate a 350 litre fuel tank. The much longer wheelbase would help give the car the more stable footprint the engineers had wanted. However, this modification no longer made the 205 T16 look appropriate in its exterior appearance – to which Peugeot took much disdain.

405 TURBO 16

For 1987, Peugeot was about to release a new model, the 405, which was already much longer than the 205 in its exterior dimensions. The company could help market the new car with a special competition version, exactly like the 205 Turbo 16 did with the normal 205 back in 1984, and would provide the PTS engineers with the longer dimensions they long desired.

The 405 T16 and its XU9T engine on display.
The 405 T16 and a prototype engine on display.

It was a no-brainer for Peugeot Talbot Sport to simply adapt the very proficient 205 T16 chassis and drivetrain for the new 405 model. The revised chassis, albeit very similar, was now fully tubular and stretched to fit the required bodywork dimensions. This longer chassis naturally made the wheelbase increase from the 205 T16’s original 100 inches (2540 mm) to match the factory 405’s 113.7 inches (2888 mm), hence keeping the overall dimensions very close to the base car. Besides this, the basic 405 T16 was reported to weigh only 880 kg (1,940 lbs) in its most basic form. The lengthened section of the chassis would also allow to fit larger fuel tanks aimed specifically for the rally raid version without modifying the exterior bodywork. In all, the increased length simply made the car more versatile.


It is worth to mention that the normal 405 model was only available as a 4-door model, which was gracefully adapted to a 2 door coupé in T16 form – resulting in a much better aerodynamically flowing car than the 205 T16. It sported very advanced ground effects blended in a seamless, very mature design. By looking at the overall quality of the 405 Turbo 16 Presentation Version, one could argue that it could have easily been the company’s new “Serie-200” homologation road car if Group B was never cancelled.

Further improvements were made to the T16 engine package as Peugeot were no longer restricted by the Group B displacement rules. The XU8T’s engine displacement was increased to 1905cc and fitted with new technologies such as dual variable valve timing, on both intake and exhaust sides, and a variable geometry turbocharger. The drivetrain improvements that were planned for the Group S 205 T16 “E3” were implemented in the 405 T16 instead. After toying with an experimental automated clutch (sequential) transmission, it was ultimately left out for a simpler “TJ” type unit but which sported the new driver adjustable centre differential system.

As events would unfold, the FISA ultimately cancelled Group S besides Peugeot’s legal suit against them, but that would not stop the 405 Turbo 16’s development as the company’s flagship rally model in other related venues.

It is note to mention that the first two competition 405 T16s ever built were made by “recycling” two of the three 205 T16s that participated in the 1987 Pikes Peak event. The third 205 going to battle in the French Rallycross Championship unchanged.


405 Turbo 16
405 Turbo 16 “Pikes Peak”

The 405 T16 would undergo a special modification to participate in the 1988 Pikes Peak int’l hill climb race. The Pikes Peak derivative gives a glimpse of what the Group S rally car would have looked like in full competition trim. The car would give Peugeot victory at the event in the capable hands of Ari Vatanen. He bettered Walter Röhrl‘s previous year record of 10:47.850 by a few tenths of a second (10:47.220): a record that stood until 1994. The feat was also immortalised in the award-wining short movie “Climb Dance” by Jean-Louis Mourey. It is worth mentioning that Robby Unser gave the 405 T16 a consecutive victory in 1989.

More information about this particular version can be found HERE.


Peugeot 405 T16 GR PD
405 Turbo 16 “Grand Raid”

The car was also modified to participate in “Rally Raid” events. The 405 T16 GR sported a longer-stroke, reinforced suspension and a much larger fuel tank that sat in between the cabin bulkhead and the engine. Besides a cursed debut in 1988 when the car was stolen at an overnight stop, Ari Vatanen and the 405 would again pair up and deliver to Peugeot consecutive wins at the 1989 and 1990 editions of the famous Paris-Dakar endurance race.

More information about this particular version can be found HERE.

Immediately afterwards, Peugeot Talbot Sport decided to officially retire the 205/405 T16s from competition to concentrate on the development of the 905 prototype racer in the World Sportscar Championship. However, this would not be the last victory for the proven Peugeot “Turbo 16” engineering: sister PSA company Citroën would use it as the base for its ZX Grand Raid vehicle which would subsequently win the Paris-Dakar event 4 times from 1991 through 1996, officially retiring in 1997.

Citroën ZX Grand Raid (1991)

This means that the 205 Turbo 16 was a design that came to be competitive for over a decade: an achievement that is seldom seen in motorsport and a testament to Group B’s lasting influence.


1984 Peugeot Quasar
1984 Peugeot Quasar – Concept Car

In 1984, Peugeot produced a concept car called the Quasar that utilised the 205 T16’s chassis and mechanical components. It featured 600 BHP and a lot of advanced technological cool bits. It is often mistaken by popular culture to be Peugeot’s Group S car. The actual timeline of its conception and introduction predates the first draft of Group S regulations by the FISA which came over a year later. It “might” have later been considered but history ultimately proved the 405 T16 to be the car that actually incorporated Peugeot’s Group S technologies.


(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner, chief editor and main author