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Flying by night in London with this stealth-black Peugeot 205 Turbo 16

In January of 1986, this stealthy black Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 was delivered to a prominent member of the ruling family of Qatar at the country’s embassy in London. Over three decades later, we returned the unique Group B homologation special to the very streets of Mayfair and Kensington it once proudly prowled…

The amber glow of the streetlights and the vibrant neon shopfront signs reflect off the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16’s boxy black bodywork. The Group B unicorn confuses most passers-by, unknowing pedestrians struggling to fathom why this old French hatchback is causing such a commotion on a chilly Friday night in Central London.

Those who know, however, know. They remember the car’s flame-belching, mind-bending rally counterparts going hell for leather on their way to victory in the World Rally Championship. They remember that only 200 of these ultra-special road-going homologation versions were built to permit the aforementioned rally car to compete. And they know this is potentially one of the only occasions they’ll ever randomly spot a ‘T16’ out in the wild.

We imagine it was a similar story back in the 1980s and 1990s, when this Peugeot would have been a regular sighting on the streets of Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Kensington. See, it was delivered new to Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Thani, a prominent member of the ruling family of Qatar, at the Embassy of Qatar on South Audley Street on 11 January 1986. And the Sheikh was clearly very fond of his new car.

Not only did he keep the car for over 20 years and diligently maintain it, as evidenced by the myriad service stamps all issued by Peugeot Warwick Wright in Chiswick, West London. In order to make his 205 Turbo 16 stand out from its grey counterparts, he also opted to refinish the car in gloss black. The simple change transforms the character of the full-fat 205 – the resulting stealth and menace is entirely befitting of the car’s Group B spirit.

We’ve just found a fantastic new home across the pond for this Peugeot, which is the 177th of the 200 produced, and you can read its full story by clicking here. But before we delivered the car, we felt it was only fitting that we returned it to the very streets it once proudly prowled. So, one brisk Friday evening earlier this month, that’s exactly what we did.

As you can see from Alex Penfold’s superb photos, we took the Turbo 16 on something of a whistlestop tour of the capital, taking in locations and landmarks including the über-luxurious shops of Bond Street, the sunny Serpentine in Hyde Park, the neon-clad bars and theatres of Soho, the London Eye and, of course, the car’s old home: the Embassy of the State of Qatar. At the latter, we may or may not have popped the Peugeot in pride of place in the diplomatic parking space right outside the building for an opportune photo (or two). 

To see such an ‘of-the-era’ hot hatch stalking its old stomping grounds, in the same coat of paint and wearing the same registration it’s always had, was so satisfying. Almost more so than the knowledge that this Peugeot’s next chapter, poised to be written on an entirely different continent, is going to be every bit as exciting.

Photos: Alex Penfold for Girardo & Co.

You can find out more about this 1985 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 which we have recently sold by clicking here

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