With only 9 left on UK roads, the Mi16 is left as a forgotten gem in Peugeot’s lineup. If you can find one, buy it before we do.
It was Peugeot’s golden age of motorsport throughout the 1980’s, where the world of rally was gifted incredibly fast competition from the French marque. A history of motorsport dating back to the 19th century, it started with the Type 7, L76, and 402 at Le Mans, before taking to the dirt with the 404 and 504. Peugeot’s first major breakthrough however came in 1985, with the confounding 205 T16, followed by incredible victories with Peugeot’s 405 T16 ‘Grand Raid’ in the treacherous Paris-Dakar rally – and ‘Pikes Peak’ taking out multiple wins at the Pikes Peak international hill climb.
It’s hard to see the extent of Peugeot’s motorsport heritage, as today – although they remain competitive in rally, the marque is now viewed as nothing more than a sensible economy car maker.
In the present day, there are few mass-market Peugeot cars that still hold value. Collectors and purists will be quick to pounce at the 205 GTi hatch as it retains Peugeot’s values in the art of the car – however with age, the GTi now sees prices soaring to true rare classic status levels. The 309 GTi shares a similar story, albeit much rarer – so with the iconic French hatchbacks out of the question, that doesn’t leave many other options for renowned retro-age Peugeots, as most have lost to the test of time.
That leaves the 405 Mi16.
A blue collar hero in the 1980’s alongside cars like the Vauxhall Cavalier SRi, this was the car that provided the chassis for Peugeot’s legendary Pikes Peak and Dakar rally cars, and it was built solely for purists.
Powered by a high-revving ‘XU9J4’ 2.0L engine sending power to the front-wheels (AWD available with the Mi16x4), the 405 Mi16 was nothing short of pure. The 119kW (160hp) of power meant little through a driver oriented backroad, however with 7,200RPM accessible from the reinforced aluminium engine, it still managed to put up a tested 0-100km/h time of 7.8 seconds (Motor Magazine 1987) – an incredible figure for a normally aspirated four-cylinder in the 80’s.
Although the car was surprisingly fast, you’d need to forget performance figures on paper to discover it’s true potential.
The Mi16 was a drivers car. A sensible family car at low speed, a quick flick of the gear lever and a press of the throttle turned the Pininfarina styled saloon into nothing short of an absolute machine. Surpassing 4,500RPM erupted the weak-sounding 2.0L into life, and staying in this stretched power band was simple but gratifying. Pair this with communicative steering, great gearing and a miniscule kerb weight of just 1085kg – forget the competition; cause around a twisty road, it handled like no other car in its class.
A car that communicated to the driver every inch of the journey, the Mi16 was a car that managed to invoke a smile on the face of any and every person driving. What more could an enthusiast want from a car?
You need to rescue one, and be quick – time is running out.
There are only 9 Mi16’s left registered on UK roads, and we deeply regret not buying one in Australia that was listed at just $600 AUD.