Peugeot 305 V6 Rallye

This story was written by Brendan McAleer, Canadian auto writer extraordinaire. You may remember him from the Nissan Skyline RS-3 'Seibu Keisatsu' article he contributed to #bcotd. Catch him on Twitter, if you can.

There is no car so boring that it cannot be transformed by the addition of box-flares. A bold theory, I know, but it's one borne out by modern examples like, oh, this recent rally version of the Mitsubishi Mirage. Box-flares go well with pretty much everything, and the more mundane the machine, the better it gets once exposed to gamma radiation and transformed from Bruce Banner to grumpy green guy in purple cutoffs.

Take this little known example, the Peugeot 305 V6 Rallye. Right off the bat, Group B is involved, so you know things are going to get a little nutty.

Peugeot's conservative-looking 305-series sedan wasn't really a bad car at all, just a trifle dull. A late-seventies/early-eighties front driver with styling by Pininfarina, it was available with a range of engines, all of which had the sporting intent of a soggy croissant. The sprightliest S trim shown in 1980 at the Paris motor show had twin carbs, 88hp, and it wouldn't quite do 100mph even if you flogged the absolute merde out of it. C'est dommage.

At the same time, Peugeot could boast some previous rallying success with their coupé version of the 504. Powered by a 2664cc V6 producing approximately 250hp, it had been competitive in Group 4 rallying of the late seventies—and as an aside, the standard 504 coupé is a lovely-looking machine.

Along came the FIA with their Group B series, an essentially open class that would descend into a deadly maelstrom of steel and fire that consumed both drivers and spectators at an alarming rate, and Peugeot saw an opportunity to show that the Lion emblem on the front of their grilles could still roar. Heuliez, a now-defunct small-volume speciality manufacturer, was called on to produce a concept. 

They employed the oldest trick in the book with the 305—big engine in small car—and flared that thing like Marie Antoinette's petticoats. Suddenly rear-drive with a 24-valve 2.5L PRV V6 making again 250hp or so, and a curb weight of about a thousand kilos or so, the 305 V6 Rallye became instantly interesting. Add in homologation requirements that 200 road-going examples be produced, and surely we have a machine on a par for excitement and collectibility with the Ur-Quattro or the RS2000, ne c'est pas?

Alas, alack, 'twas not to be. The 305 V6 was almost immediately overshadowed by the development of the very successful 205 T16 (another Heuliez creation). The turbocharged rally-version of the 205 propelled Peugeot out of its image slump, while the best the 305 V6 could hope for was to be used as a mule for development. (This may mean that a ridiculously powerful turbo-four-powered 305 Rallye existed briefly, but there's no real evidence.)

What could have been. Ah well, with a Gallic shrug and a nonchalant Gauloise, we pay tribute to this forgotten machine. It might have been mighty, yet it flared out just a little too late.