The Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI ushered in the concept of the front-wheel-drive hot hatch. Since then, other models have tweaked the formula. The Saab 900 Turbo, for example, introduced turbocharging. And the Lancia Delta Integrale broached the topic of all-wheel drive. But not all hot hatches were sold in the US. And getting one of those ‘forbidden fruits’ means dealing with a 25-year-old car. However, the newly-announced Peugeot 205 GTI restoration program should make that last part a little easier.
The Peugeot 205 GTI might be a better hot hatch than the Volkswagen Golf GTI
Spec-wise, the 1984 Peugeot 205 GTI doesn’t seem that impressive today. Under the hood, the supermini hot hatch has a 105-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder, Autocar reports. However, that’s actually more powerful than the contemporary Volkswagen GTI. Plus, with a 1900-lb curb weight, the 205 GTI is lighter, Petrolicious reports.
Straight-line speed, though, isn’t the point of the Peugeot 205 GTI or Volkswagen GTI: it’s handling. And the French car has that in spades, too. Its short wheelbase makes it agile, Top Gear reports, as does its upgraded suspension, Evo reports. However, the base car’s chassis was already appreciably stiff, Classics World reports. And the Peugeot 205 GTI’s steering is very communicative.
As a result, it “ran rings” around some of its contemporaries, Autocar reports. And the hot hatch’s tendency for lift-off oversteer merely added to the fun factor. Hence why Top Gear considers it one of the greatest hot hatches of all time, even above the Volkswagen GTI.
The Peugeot 205 GTI enjoyed a 15-year production run, with a few changes along the way. In 1986 came an optional 1.9-liter four-cylinder with 126 hp, Classic Trader reports. The 1.9-liter cars also have rear disc brakes, not just front ones. And in 1987, the 1.6-liter engine’s output was boosted to 116 hp. 1988 saw a number of interior upgrades.
Unfortunately, despite the Peugeot 205 GTI’s strengths, the hot hatch is now a classic, and examples are getting older. And as an inexpensive performance car, many 205 GTIs were driven fairly hard and not cared for properly.
But Peugeot’s stepping in to rectify that.
Peugeot is staring up an official factory restoration program for the 205 GTI
2020 marks Peugeot’s 210th anniversary. And the French company has had quite an eclectic history, Autoblog reports. Its first products were saw blades, screwdrivers, and other tools. It later moved on to pepper and coffee mills, followed by bicycles and cars. It’s also dabbled in motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds. Today, though, while these products share the Peugeot name, they’re all separate companies.
Still, the Peugeot car company wanted to celebrate this anniversary properly. And it’s doing so by creating a factory-backed restoration service of 205 GTIs, The Drive reports.
This isn’t the first time an automaker has offered an in-house restoration service. BMW and Mercedes-Benz already do, as do high-end marques like Ferrari. Mazda has started restoring NA Miatas. Several others, such as Aston Martin and Bentley, are even creating continuation builds of their vintage models. And before its merger with PSA, FCA also started a restoration program.
Peugeot’s approaching its 205 GTI restoration program in a similar manner. It’s built up a stock-pile of classic parts and plans to buy or 3D print whatever’s missing, Top Gear reports. That includes the interior textiles and sheet metal.
How to get it in the US
As of this writing, Peugeot has already restored one 1.9-liter 205 GTI. But starting in 2021, existing 205 GTI owners will be able to bring their cars to Peugeot for restoration, PistonHeads reports. And after that, the automaker plans on expanding its restoration service to its other classic models.
The 205 GTI was never sold in the US, though some fans have already imported them. So, theoretically, you could buy a US-registered example, ship it to France, and then ship it back after the restoration. Or, to simplify matters, find a 205 GTI in Europe, get it restored, then ship it to the US and register it.
The entire production run is more than 25 years old, so it’s simply a matter of paying the necessary fees and filling out the paperwork. And there are a number of importers in the US who can assist you with that.
Peugeot hasn’t released a pricing guide for its 205 GTI restoration service, though it will likely be on a case-by-case basis. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the supermini hot hatch has appreciated in recent years. US-registered examples typically go for $10,000-$15,000 on Bring a Trailer.
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