Peugeot’s bitter defeat to arch rival Audi and their special quattro at the 1987 Pikes Peak “Race to the Clouds” was only short lived as they quickly started to devise another special car for the following year’s event: the now legendary 405 T16. Based on the Group S formula, it sported an almost identical chassis and features to the Group B 205 T16.
The previous Peugeot 205 T16 Pikes Peak version was deemed as having a wheelbase that was too short for the long high speed corners that abound the particular venue. The engineers had already tried to stretch it to the maximum that the 205 body style would allow but more was needed. The adventure to fix this 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 elongated by 12 inches (30 cms) between the engine and the passenger compartment. The much longer wheelbase would help give the car the more stable footprint that the engineers so desired. However, this modification no longer made the 205 T16 look appropriate in its exterior appearance, to which Peugeot took much disdain.
For 1987, Peugeot was about to release a new model, the 405 sedan, which was much longer than the 205. 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. 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 dimensions. This new longer chassis naturally made the wheelbase increase from the 205 T16’s original 100 inches to match the 405’s 113.7 inches. Besides this, the basic 405 T16, without equipment, was reported to weigh as little as 880 kg (1940 lbs). The lengthened section of the chassis would also allow to fit larger fuel tanks aimed specifically for the rally raid version. In all, the increased length simply made the car more versatile and made the perfect base for a new Pikes Peak conquering weapon.
Further improvements were made to the T16 engine package as Peugeot was no longer restricted by the Group B displacement class rules. Thus, the XU8T’s engine displacement was increased to 1905 cc and fitted with new technologies such as dual variable valve timing and a variable geometry turbocharger. While the claimed horsepower of the new “XU9T” engine was around 650, Vatanen later stated in an interview that his car had about 800 bhp. The car also featured a driver adjustable center differential to modify front to rear torque ratios on the fly and paired with mechanical rear steering. These systems were already in development for the planned 205 T16 evolution 3 (E3) due to be used in Group S before the class was cancelled.
For the 1988 Pikes Peak contest, Peugeot gave Ari Vatanen another chance at victory, and the Finn would not disappoint. 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 immortalized in the award wining short movie “Climb Dance” (see bottom of page). It is worth mentioning that Robby Unser competed in the 1989 running of the race with an identical 405 T16 and gave the car a second straight victory.
Although it was produced after the ban, due to its extreme technical resemblance to the 205 T16, the 405 T16 can be considered as a legitimate evolution Group B car, and a glimpse of what Peugeot’s future WRC Group S contender might have looked like in full rally trim.
|Group/Class||Unlimited||Pikes Peak Special Version|
|Years active||1988~89||# Built: 2|
|Type||XU9T, I-4, DOHC 16v, gas||located middle transverse|
|Output power – torque||
||516 lb-ft (700 Nm) @ 4500 rpm (claimed)|
|Materials||block: aluminium alloy||cylinder head: aluminium alloy|
||Boost: 43 psi (3.0 bar)|
|Ignition||electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2|
|Lubrication system||dry sump|
|Type||four wheel drive||TJ type – 6 speed manual gearbox|
|Differential ratio||N/A||driver controlled adjustable center differential|
|Clutch||carbon – hydraulic operation|
|Chassis / body|
|Type||tubular steel spaceframe with front and rear subframes. 405 sedan type modified to 2 doors with carbon/kevlar body panels. Front and rear removable clamshells. Large front lip spoiler with side extensions and large dual deck rear spoiler.|
|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|
||2 turns lock to lock|
|Brakes||Front & Rear: ventilated discs 327mm diameter with AP 4 pot calipers.||dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear|
|length: 4250 mm (167.3 in)||width: 1760 mm (69.3 in)||height: N/A|
|wheelbase: 2888 mm (113.7 in)||front track: 1430 mm (56.3 in)||rear track: 1430 mm (56.3 in)|
|Rims – tires||16″ wheels||
|Dry/Unladen Weight||950 kg (2,094 lb)||Bias: N/A|
|Weight/power||1.5 kg/HP (3.4 lb/HP)|
|Fuel tank||35 litres|
For the 2013 Pikes Peak event, Peugeot resurrected the 405/205 T16’s spirit with the even more incredible 208 T16 PP, driven to a record breaking run by rallying legend Sebastien Loeb.
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