Following the demise of Group B rallying during the 1986 season, Peugeot switched their attention to Rally Raid, and more specifically the Paris-Dakar Rally. Relatively little modifications were required to adapt the Group 205 T16 to the rigours of long distance racing through some of the world's most treacherous terrain. The effort paid off with back to back Paris-Dakar victories in 1987 and 1988. Peugeot also entered a 205 in the 1987 Pikes Peak Hill Climb but faced strong opposition from former Group B rival Audi.
One of the few issues with the hugely sophisticated 205 T16 was its relatively short wheelbase. This was no problem on the tight and twisty stages of most rallies but over the jumps in the Dakar or the long, winding corners of Pikes Peak, it was not ideal. Peugeot's engineers originally addressed the issue by lengthening the wheelbase of the existing design but this did not do the proportions of the compact 205 any favours. A seemingly much more drastic solution was found in 1988; draping the body of the longer 405 over the 205 running gear. Due to nature of the rally machine's this was not nearly as complicated as it may sound.
At its core the 205 T16 still retained the basic shell of the road car it was based on, be it with the rear end chopped off. Here the chassis consisted of a purpose-built subframe, which housed the engine and the gearbox. On the 'new' 405 T16, the section between the shell and subframe was lengthened to improve the handling and also to allow for larger fuel tanks. This revised chassis was fitted with new Kevlar and carbon-fibre body panels that closely resembled the nose and tail of the 405. One clear difference was the absence of the rear doors compared to the road car, which was only available as a sedan or station and wagon, and not a coupe.
The T16 in the type was a reference to the engine; a Turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a total of 16 valves. With the displacement restrictions of Group B no longer applying, it was slightly enlarged to just over 1.9 litre. In long distance specification, this 'XU 9T' engine produced around 400 bhp. It was mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and a Ferguson all-wheel drive system. This featured a driver-adjustable central differential that controlled the amount of power sent to the front and rear wheels. Suspension was through double wishbones, with twin springs and dampers on all four corners.
Dubbed the 405 T16 Grand Raid, the new Peugeot machine debuted at the 1988 Paris-Dakar rally where it lined up alongside the tried and trusted 205 T16. The car tipped the scales at 880 kg with empty tanks but once filled to the broom with 435 litres of fuel, the new 405 weighed 1300 kg. The French team consisted of two 405s and two 205s. Peugeot's conservative strategy of entering two of each car paid off as the new car struggled on its debut. Fortunately one of the two 205s did survive the gruelling rakky to take the type's second win.
Alongside the Grand Raid, Peugeot also developed a slightly different version of the 405 T16, specifically for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. It was slightly lower, fitted with massive wings and rear-wheel steer. Ari Vatanen took a convincing victory and bettered the record set a year earlier by Walter Rohrl in an Audi. The Fin's heroic efforts were captured in the spectacular short movie 'Climb Dance'. Especially the on-board footage showed just how brave these drivers were. In 1989, Robby Unser took the 405's second Pikes Peak win and Vatanen's record was not beaten until 1994.
Peugeot returned to Paris-Dakar in 1989 with the 405 and despite one of the cars being held for ransom by some locals, took yet another victory in the world's most famous long distance rally. Following the example set by its predecessor the 405 T16 Grand Raid followed its first victory by a second. This proved to be the end of the long career of one of the most successful family of rally cars ever. Peugeot set its sight on the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while sister company Citroen took over the Paris-Dakar reign in 1991.
There is a video of the run up Pikes Peak of this car driven by Ari Vatannen. It is a magnificent piece and should be seen by all. Just enter Climb Dance in google and you're there. It's definitely worth the time.
Joao Gois 10-20-2011
I see nothing wrong in the article, it states "a total of 16 valves", no mention to 16 valves per cylindre...