Home » Kings of the Rally Stage – Peugeot’s Greatest Rally Cars

Kings of the Rally Stage – Peugeot’s Greatest Rally Cars

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Peugeot Rally car maintained a strong presence in the World Rally Championship thanks to a lineup of innovative rally racers. While rally glory faded for Peugeot in the 21st century, during the sport’s most competitive eras cars like the 504, 205, and 306 captured events worldwide.

Let’s examine some of Peugeot’s greatest rally cars that left an indelible mark on motorsports. For fans of Group B monsters and French motorsport icons, Peugeot played a pivotal role.

504 Coupe – Peugeot Rally car Debut

Peugeot dipped its toes into rallying in the early 1970s, using the dependable 504 as their first serious contender. The 504 had already proved itself by winning the grueling East African Safari Rally in 1971. Building on this toughness, Peugeot homologated the 504 V6 Coupe into Group 2 specifications.

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The 75 degree V6 enlarged to 3.0L and mated to a beefy 5-speed produced nearly 270 hp in competition trim. Upgraded suspension, brakes and weight reduction sharpened handling and durability. In the hands of French legend Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the burly 504 coupe won its class at the 1974 Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. This early success sparked Peugeot’s rally ambitions.

205 Turbo 16 and the Rise of Group B

When the visionary yet dangerous Group B formula debuted in 1982 allowing highly modified prototypes, Peugeot channeled immense resources into developing a top-tier contender. The result was the revolutionary mid-engine, all-wheel drive 205 Turbo 16 hatchback.

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Powered by a 16-valve turbocharged 1.8L engine punching out over 500 hp paired to a sequential gearbox, the lightweight 205 T16 possessed staggering pace. Flared arches, active suspension and aerodynamics maximized grip and stability at unbelievable speeds. Driven by champions like Ari Vatanen, the 205 T16 dominated rallies from 1984-1986, capturing Peugeot’s only driver’s title in 1985.

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However, Group B’s ferocity led to its cancellation after fatalities among competitors and spectators. But Peugeot’s 205 T16 stands as one of the era’s icons thanks to its sheer dominance and radical engineering.

After Group B – Peugeot Rally car Staying Competitive with the 309 GTi

Lacking the 205 T16 after Group B’s end, Peugeot returned to their dependable 305/309 family car for a new rally challenger. Evolving Group B lessons into Group A rules, Peugeot homologated the 309 GTi for competition duty starting in 1987.

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Retaining the 205 T16’s mid-engine layout, Peugeot downsized to a transverse 2.0L turbocharged engine generating over 275 hp. The 309 lacked 4WD but followed Peugeot tradition with advanced independent suspension design for excellent handling. Legend Sebastien Loeb drove the 309 GTi16 to impressive results internationally through the early 1990s. Despite a much smaller budget than in Group B, Peugeot remained competitive.

Legendary Peugeots at Pikes Peak

Beyond WRC stages, Peugeot’s rally cars made history at the fearsome Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. After Audi’s domination in the 1980s with the Sport Quattro S1, Peugeot struck back in 1988 with the 405 Turbo 16 GR piloted by Ari Vatanen. Specially built for Pikes Peak, this 640 hp Peugeot prototype set a shocking record that stood for years.

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In the 1990s, Peugeot returned to Pikes Peak using the limited production 106 XSi for back-to-back wins in its production class. Tough and tunable, Peugeots proved ideal for the Rocky Mountain challenge.

The Peugeot Rally Car Innovator

From Rallye to rally stage, why did Peugeots excel? The brand repeatedly innovated with technology like compact turbocharging, effective aerodynamics, traction maximizing four-wheel drive and clever suspensions. Drivetrain reliability and durability were also key strengths.

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For enthusiasts, Peugeot epitomized fearless French engineering – slightly eccentric yet undeniably effective. While victories faded in the 21st century, Peugeots’ past rally success remains a core part of their DNA. For fans of French rally icons, Peugeots like the mighty 205 T16 represent the pinnacle.

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