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The Single Weakness of the Peugeot 205 T16

Even the Best Group B rally car in the world was not perfect!

For once, here I present you with a “world’s best” claim that is indisputable: The Peugeot 205 T16 was created for rallying during the legendary Group B period, and although it arrived late for the party towards the end of the 1984 season, it basically obliterated every one of its opponents. The 205 T16 took no less than 16 victories out of the 26 rallies in which the ferocious Frenchman competed – and those victories translated into two World Champion titles, namely in both of its full seasons 1985 and 1986. Thus, one can quite unequivocally establish that it was the best Group B rally car of them all.

When the 205 T16 debuted at the end of the 1984 season, it won three of the four rallies it participated in.

The (very) short explanation is simply that the 205 T16 did not have any major weaknesses. Or at the very least, it had no specific faults – such as the Audi Quattro’s inherent understeer, the Metro 6R4’s lack of power and reliability and so on. So the 205 T16 with the little 1.8-litre turbo engine was not the strongest car in the field, nor was it the lightest or fastest – but it was the most complete package.

Whether snow, gravel, tarmac or ice: The Peugeot 205 T16 mastered it all.

In fact, there was only one single thing which its drivers observed as a minor flaw: The 205 T16 was not the best flyer in the field. “Flyer” as in the momentary state of flight which occurred immediately after the long and fast jumps – which some rallies would have several of. The simple reason was that the engine was positioned slightly to the right in the car (seen from above in its longitudinal direction), which resulted in the 205 T16 having an inherent tendency to land slightly crooked after a longer airborne sessions.

As can be seen from this cutaway drawing, the engine is located slightly to the right, yielding the 205 T16 slightly asymmetrical – thus also featuring a slightly skewed weight distribution and not least more pronounced torque reactions.

Nothing catastrophic, mind – which should be rather clear by the achieved results from the brutal little Frenchman. The 205 T16’s slightly crooked landings did not prevent the impressive array of major wins which the car secured Peugeot during its short but wild motorsport career. But if you absolutely had to point at a weakness in the armour of this magnificent rally car, then it must be this. But despite this minor imperfection – like the vague asymmetry of a super models stunningly beautiful face – the 205 T16 was quite the superior rally car in Group B. Others might have been more spectacular in sight, sound or simply in sheer power – but even so, they did not manage to beat the lion from Peugeot over the distance. It truly was and is the best Group B rally car of them all.

It was after “hovering” like this, that the otherwise infallible 205 T16 tended to land slightly crooked.


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