Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi
If you have spent any time flicking through these pages or paid a visit to see us you will have quickly picked up that we are quite partial to a hot hatch. When you think about it, the hot hatch concept is a no brainer of a winning formula. Everyday practicality wrapped up with a feisty power pack up front, nicely fettled suspension and beefed up brakes in each corner. Over the years we have added a Mini Cooper S, a slightly "breathed on" Fiat 500 and a few Golfs to the Classic Heroes Collection. Whilst the Mini and the Fiat aren't technically hot hatches, in many ways they started the ball rolling which eventually led to VW "blowing the bloody doors off" with the ground breaking and market making MK1 Golf GTi.
Many a heated discussion has been had over the years about which is the greatest hot hatch of all time. The story is still being written and explored as we speak but given our focus as a business, we tend the concentrate on the darlings of our era and the original protagonists. There are certainly many to choose from. Escorts, XR2i's, Clio Williams, Lotus Sunbeams and Civic Type R's are all in the mix. But for us it comes down to a shoot out between the MK1 Golf GTi and the Peugeot 205 GTi. Both cars are pretty special and in recent years have become modern classics, very tricky to find unmolested and quickly appreciating in value.
In 1984 when Peugeot launched the 205 GTi it's breathtaking performance and impeccable handling quickly gained a strong following with keen drivers and the motoring press alike. Peugeot's press and marketing team described the 205 as "a small, but mighty technological miracle". Bold claims, that ultimately proved to be correct at the GTi went on to become arguably the greatest hot hatch of all time.
With a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds, a top speed of 123 mph and a kerb weight of just 875kg the 1.9 version of the 205 GTi mixed exhilarating performance with a ground breaking ride. It made the driver feel they could take on the best and fastest around. It's Achilles heal was of course it's build quality which at best was mixed and at worst down right poor. Anyone used to German build quality would be aghast at the quality of steel used, paint finish, interior plastics and general attention to detail used to produce a new "premium" quality car.
A quick slide into the drivers seat and blast round the country lanes soon made you forget about all of these issues. A well set up 205 GTi will leave a smile on your face like little else. The trick is to just make sure you stay out of the hedgerow.
We embarked on our search for top notch 205 GTi with more than a little trepidation. We were prepared to wait for the best which is just as well because when we finally found the car featured here, it took us almost three years of discussion with the first owner to convince him to part with it and to reassure him that we were worthy custodians of his pride and joy.
The story starts back on the 21st June 1988 when our good friend Cliff placed an order for the car with Hawkins Motors In Hayle, Cornwall. The original purchase price was £9,900 which included a 2 year warranty (very wise), GTi carpets, Sunroof deflector, 205 GTi rear decals, mud flaps, boot tidy and locking wheel nuts. Cliff took delivery on 1st September 1988 and so began a serious and very committed love affair.
We have come across many dedicated, fastidious, deeply caring car enthusiasts in our time but Cliff has no peers. His approach to the care of this 205 was Olympian. Usain Bolt like in fact. His dedication and his desire to ensure the car wanted for nothing and it's life history was recorded knew no bounds. A detailed mileage log was a good place to start, this then extended to retaining all packaging, wrapping and receipts of every item purchased for the 205. All books, magazines, car club stickers even car cleaning materials were retained. A garage was even built at the bottom of his garden to ensure the car was kept in the very best possible condition. The car was only ever washed by him and it was never, ever taken out in the rain.
Cliff used the car for the first 4 years of its life after which the worry of it getting damaged became just too much. Only annual trips back and forth to the MOT station followed after that. The 205 made its last journey on 14th July 1996 to the MOT station and then remained in its garage until March 2014 when we finally managed to persuade Cliff to part with it. Needless to say, it has a full service history and is in as new condition. It really must be one of the very finest, one owner, faultless Peugeot 205 GTi's in existence.