Many people may not believe their eyes when they learn that someone paid £227,250 last April for a nearly forty-year-old Peugeot 205. It's true that one of the most popular French models of its time was a resounding success with buyers, but that alone doesn't justify its high price.

The model version known as the Turbo 16 remains one of the rarest and most successful models from the French automaker. In the 1980s, Peugeot enjoyed serious success in rallying, with the Peugeot 205 winning the WRC championship in 1985 and 1986 with drivers Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen at the wheel. But according to the rules at the time, the FIA required manufacturers to have a road version of their racing car as soon as the WRC series was launched, and to sell at least 200 examples. This is how the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 came into being.

A rare car

With such a limited series, it's hardly surprising that a determined collector would be prepared to dig deep into his pockets to acquire even one example. The car sold at auction in England is also a very well preserved example, with only 16,000 kilometres (9,940 miles) on the clock and, of course, its service history is also available. Its first English owner, who bought the Turbo 16 in France in 2021, was cautious because, despite the low mileage, he also had the car's clutch replaced as part of the compulsory servicing, and then inspected the little Peugeot so that it could receive a British number plate and take part in road traffic.

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Prior to the auction, the experts invited by the auction house inspected the Turbo 16 with serial number 176 and found that, in addition to the original factory paintwork, the interior components and fabric upholstery matched the production condition at the time of the sale. The 205 T16 could leave the factory in two different colours: 196 were painted in Winchester grey, while four others were blown up in pearl white. These few examples belonged to Peugeot's chairman at the time, Jean Boillot, and to three icons of French motor sport: F1 driver Didier Pironi, engineer Andrej de Cortanze and Peugeot Talbot Sport WRC team manager (and later Scuderia Ferrari F1 and FIA director) Jean Todt.

More than a 205

When you look at the Turbo 16, you immediately recognise the Peugeot 205, and it may be hard to believe that we can count on the fingers of one hand the parts that correspond to everyday versions of the popular little car. The two front headlights, the two side doors and the windscreen are identical, but everything else has been replaced, dropped, changed or modified by the Turbo 16 engineers. The multiple world champion race car became a road-going Peugeot 205, even though it has little to do with the racing model from a technical point of view, but Peugeot cleverly used its rally success and tried to popularise it further with the name change.

When you open the roof of the machine, you get your first surprise, because that's where the spare wheel is. The passenger compartment ends behind the front seats, the engine has moved to the rear and is located transversely in the car with the torque being transmitted to all four wheels.

The bodywork is special in that the front end resembles that of any modern car with a self-supporting body, while the rear includes racing technology. The engine and chassis components have to be carefully inspected after every race in a rally car, and the rear section, which opens like a wing, gives mechanics the best possible access to the vehicle's technology and mechanics.

The most expensive? Can you believe it?

The engine of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder that develops 200 PS. Nowadays, we might underestimate the power of just 200 PS, but let's not forget that the Turbo 16 weighs just 907 kg. As a result, the T16's driving dynamics are electrifying, as it reaches 62 mph from a standstill in 6.6 seconds and has a top speed of 137 mph.

In 1985, when the 205 Turbo 16 was first marketed, the currency in France was not the euro but, of course, the franc. The price of 290,000 francs at the time is now equivalent to around £37,300, which just goes to show how much the car's rarity has driven up its value today. The exact purchase price is not known, because most of the time, buyers like to discreetly manage not only their identity but also the sum they paid.

Despite its astronomical price, this is certainly not the most expensive Peugeot 205 Turbo 16. One of the four white examples, serial number 33, holds that record. This car was originally registered in Peugeot's name and is said to have been used as a touring car by Jean Todt when he was head of Peugeot Talbot Sport. As it was driven by the boss, the engine's power was increased producing 230 PS compared with 200 PS for other road cars. The French auction house Aguttes sold this example in March 2021 for €419,260 (approx. £354,000).