Peugeot 205 T16 “Pikes Peak” (1987)

Published on: Jan 19, 2016 @ 18:04
Originally Published in: 2015 (old website)
(C) Jay Auger - website owner & author
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After Group B was banned for WRC at the end of 1986, most manufacturers turned to rallycross, rally raid, and hill climb events to run their cars. The legendary “Race to the Clouds” at Pikes Peak was the most important venue in hill climb and provided major publicity opportunities. Peugeot had learned that arch rival Audi was planning to run a special version of the quattro for the 1987 event so they decided to join the fray with a field of three specially prepared cars.



The three Pikes Peak edition 205 Turbo 16s sported most of the modifications planned for the Group S “E3” evolution, such as a slightly longer wheelbase to help improve high speed stability and a major engine overhaul. The 6-speed transmission as used in the latter part of the 1986 WRC season were installed. The ground effect skirts, which got Peugeot wrongly disqualified at the 1986 Sanremo Rally, also carried over.

The XU9T Engine

Further improvements were made to the XU8T’s engine as Peugeot was no longer restricted by the Group B displacement class rules. Hence, the new “XU9T” engine package featured a slightly increased displacement to 1905 cc, a variable geometry turbocharger, and a new air-to-water intercooler. The Pikes Peak setup was “officially” rated at 550 bhp at 43 psi (3.0 bar) of boost but insiders claimed that it was most likely more than 600.

Group B’s minimum weight regulations also no longer applied, so the 205 T16s were stripped to the bare minimum; by removing the passenger seat and side mirror, dashboard,  stage rally equipment, spare tire and tools, plus fitting a smaller fuel tank and a single windshield wiper setup. Since the hill climb was basically a short sprint race, the rear mounted oil coolers and their rear windows side scoops and ducting were also deleted in favour of a thin opening on top of the clamshell to aid in engine bay venting. 140 kgs (310 lbs) were said to have been shed from its rally equivalent, resulting in a mere 850 kgs (1,875 lbs) of declared weight.

Ari Vatanen

Peugeot’s main gambit laid with Ari Vatanen, who helped bring the French team to the forefront of rallying at the end of 1984, but he suffered a near fatal crash in the 1985 rally of Argentina which made him miss the entire 1986 rally season. Besides the Paris~Dakar event held earlier in the year, the 1987 Pikes Peak hill climb was Vatanen’s return in a high-powered rally car. Peugeot reunited the Paris~Dakar trio of drivers by bringing along  Shekhar Mehta (car #5) and Andrea Zanussi (car #7) to support Ari Vatanen (car #2).

After the first qualifying sessions, Vatanen felt very disappointed that he was about 4 seconds per kilometre slower than Walter Röhrl‘s Audi and first thought that he had not fully recovered his abilities from his 1985 near-fatal crash. However, seeing how many of the other cars (including the Audi) sported various wild aerodynamic enhancements, the Peugeot technicians, led by engineer Jean-Claude Vaucard, went hard at work. They quickly devised a front spoiler and other ground effect trimmings made out of aluminium sheets – all of which quickly riveted on the cars.

Vatanen’s car fitted with the quick aero upgrades

Vatanen reported that he still felt like the car was “loose” at high speeds, so Vaucard then had the idea to take spare rear spoilers and have the technicians stack them on top of the existing ones to further add downforce.

The test spoilers fitted on Zanussi’s car

The improvement was immediate as on the next set of qualifiers Vatanen turned the tables on the Audi and was 4 seconds faster per kilometre than Röhrl. The technicians then quickly integrated the new aero bits within the livery and paint scheme just in time for the final race. With the new improvements, Peugeot Talbot Sport team leader Jean Todt had high hopes for victory and end Audi’s domination of consecutive wins at the event.

The finalised aero setup as seen on Zanussi’s car

However, it was not to be as Ari Vatanen’s car suffered from a broken clamp on a turbo hose which resulted in boost pressure issues, coming seven seconds behind Walter Röhrl‘s Audi at the checkered flag. A small consolation for Peugeot was that all three cars finished the race; resulting in 2nd (Vatanen), 3rd (Zanussi), and 4th (Mehta).

After the race, Peugeot Talbot Sport sent one of these specially prepared cars to participate in the French Rallycross Championship (click HERE to learn more about this car). The two remaining cars were “cannibalised” to build the amazing 405 T16, with a return at Pikes Peak the following two years – claiming overall victory for 1988 and 1989.

In 2018, Austrian Peugeot collector Erich Müller completed a replica of the famous 1987 Pikes Peak 205 Turbo 16s. Since all of the original cars used for the race were subsequently transformed, Müller’s replica brings the Pikes Peak legends back to life 31 years later.


Group/Class Unlimited Pikes Peak Special Version
Years active 1987  # built: 3 (none remain)
Type XU9T, I-4, DOHC 16v, gas located middle transverse
Displacement 1905 cc
Compression ratio 7.0:1
Output power – torque 550 HP @ 7600 rpm (claimed) 362 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm (claimed)
Materials block: aluminium alloy cylinder head: aluminium alloy
  • Garret T31 turbocharger
  • air to water intercooler with water injection
  • Marelli-Solex fuel injection
  • Thomson ignition system
Boost: 43 psi (3.0 bar)
Ignition electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2
Cooling system water-cooled
Lubrication system dry sump
Type four wheel drive 6 speed gearbox
Gearbox ratios N/A N/A
Differential ratio N/A spiral bevel gears center epicyclic differential with viscous coupling, hypoid spiral bevel gears limited slip 25% front and 75% rear ZF differentials
Clutch ventilated double plate
Chassis / body
Type steel monocoque 20C central frame reinforced with tubular roll cage, steel subframe for front bay & suspension, and tube chassis for rear suspension & engine. 2 door hatchback steel bodyshell with polyester bonnets. Clamshells at front and rear made of polyester, and polyurethane bumpers. Front canard-type + front spoilers, and “double” stacked rear wings.
Front suspension double wishbones with coil spring, bilstein shock absorbers and antiroll bar
Rear suspension double wishbones with coil spring, bilstein shock absorbers and antiroll bar
Steering system rack & pinion (power assisted) 2.5 turns lock to lock
Brakes Front & Rear: ventilated discs 300mm diameter with 4 pot aluminium/magnesium calipers. dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear
length: N/A width: 1770 mm (69.7 in) height: N/A
wheelbase: N/A front track: 1430 mm (56.3 in) rear track: 1430 m (56.3 in)
Rims – tires N/A
Dry/Unladen Weight 850 kg (1,875 lb) *claimed  Bias: N/A
Weight/power 1.5 kg/HP (3.4 lb/HP)
Fuel tank N/A



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