Andy Burton's 306 Cosworth
How a Hereford farmer built and raced a DTM powered Peugeot rally car
Chris Harris recently dubbed, on his Instagram stories, the Peugeot 306 Cosworth as one of the best sounding cars he could think of. This comment has drawn attention back towards this 1 of 1 prototype rally car and whilst watching many of the YouTube videos of this car and scrolling through the comments I realised that there is a lot of different information floating around about it. So, I decided to gather all the research I can find on this car and its owner, Andy Burton to give you everything you need to know on the history of the 306 Cosworth.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Back in the eighties Herefordshire farmer, Andy Burton made an offer to purchase a rusty old Alfasud Sprint and a written-off Ferrari 308 that a friend of his had lying around. He fixed up the Alfa and made suitable modifications to accommodate the 2.9 litre V8 from the Ferrari in the back. And so his Alfa-Ferrari hybrid was born. Word of this car spread like wildfire and Burton quickly made a name for himself in the British rallying scene.
After a while the car grew tired and the rear-wheel drive became uncompetitive due to the rise of all-wheel drive, this saw Burton retire the Alfa Romeo and purchase a Peugeot 306 in 1997.
The 306 in the state that Andy Burton originally found it in is far from what anyone would perceive as special, but the car was totally transformed. For starters, the shell was fabricated into a space-frame chassis, with mounting points behind to driver for its 3.0 litre naturally aspirated V6 from an MG Metro 6R4 which would power all four wheels. This mechanical setup gave it the nickname of the Peugeot 306 6R4. The car was also dressed in a distinctively wide and aggressive ice racer body kit with a Pikes Peak style rear wing from a Lotus Elise GT racing car which was later swapped for a WRC style wing.
This was the first iteration of Andy Burton's 306 and I’m sure you’re now wondering where the name ‘Cosworth’ comes into it all. Well, that would be when the Metro engine suffered multiple cam belt issues and was swapped out for a 2.5 litre Opel Cosworth KF V6. This is a very special engine which was designed with no intention of going rallying as it was originally used in DTM.
This was the point at which the 306 Cosworth was truly born. The KF V6 engine reached 11,000 RPM, producing a formula one-esque scream, always accompanied by the noise of stones pinging against the bodywork. I imagine that the spectators could feel the ground around them vibrate every time the driver would slam down on the accelerator to exit a hairpin, causing the car to squat backwards and propel itself forwards.
This was certainly the peak of the cars rallying life, taking Andy Burton and his co-driver Rob Morgan to victory in the 2003 BTRDA championship against manufacturer built cars. It also helped Burton develop a spectacular driving style of turning harshly and early into every corner, making sure he would always hit the apex with the car sideways.
The 306 Cosworth was so fast that it would essentially win every rally it entered, that is if the engine didn’t give in and force Burton to retire it. And this highlights the biggest issue of the car: engine reliability. In a 2008 interview Burton explained that when the car was in this iteration he had to rebuild the engine after almost every rally, which proved to be much too expensive for a farmer, as you can imagine.
So, to fix the reliability issues, Burton turned the page onto a new chapter for the car by swapping the engine for a production version. This engine produced slightly less power and revved to 9,000 RPM, the MSA also allowed the car to be bored out to 2.9 litres. Although de-tuned, this was still a very special engine and the sound didn’t get too much worse either. Along with co-driver Robin Kellard, Andy Burton won the BTRDA championship once again in 2011 with this new engine.
Unfortunately, the MSA were never impressed by the one-off prototypes that would embarrass manufacturer cars on the stages, and for this reason the iconic Peugeot 306 Cosworth was banned before the start of the 2012 BTRDA championship, putting an end to Andy Burton's rally career.
For me, the story of this car highlights just how special regional rally is, bearing in mind that the person who used to thrash this 306 around the forests of the UK is also a full time farmer with no engineering training, who built this car with a few mates of his in a barn just to drive it for a hobby.
If you would like to see and hear for yourself just how spectacular this rally monster was with Burton behind the wheel, I have linked a couple of videos below for you to check out.
The alleged 'final ever video' of the Peugeot Cosworth in action...