Peugeot 205 GTI | High Mile Club
Most eighties' hot hatches have seen a lot of miles. But very few look as good doing it as the 205
By John Howell / Monday, November 1, 2021 / Loading comments
I’ve never quite understood those fearless fellas (and let’s face it, it’s usually chaps) who celebrate cars that have a tendency to bite hard. You know, “it’s not a man’s car if it doesn’t try to kill you” sort of thing. I like cars, I like driving, but I am quite happy to admit I like living, too; I plan on doing all three for as long as possible. Now, I’m not saying that the Peugeot 205 GTI was one of those renowned widow-makers that got the chest-beaters’ beating, but I certainly preferred the long-wheelbase neutrality of the 405 Mi16 to the 205’s edgier, short-wheelbase snap when, for instance, trying to avoid that unseen tractor on hedge-cutting duties.
Where the 205 GTI was, and arguably still is, in a class of one, is its looks. Has there ever been a more perfect-looking hot hatch than the Pininfarina-penned Pug? And before the comments come thick and fast: yes, I am aware of the claims that Pininfarina styled the cabriolet and not the hatch. I am also not going to let the facts get in the way of an opportunity for alliteration. On the subject of myths, the 1.9 was always the sort-after one, but these early 105hp 1.6s were the lightest models, with just 850kg to pull. As a result, many would argue they are the purist’s choice.
With good, low-mileage 205 GTIs pushing £20,000 – or double that for something exceptional – those on a constrained budget, looking to relive their youth or see afresh what all the fuss was about, might find this Peugeot 205 GTI a more appropriate route in. It’s an early car on a B-plate registered in ’85 that we found lurking in the classifieds. As a result it gets the older-style heater controls – sliders rather than the later rotary controls – and instruments, one of which is currently showing 168,000 miles. That’s not the highest mileage I’ve ever seen, but it’s in the upper echelons of well-used examples and that’s reflected in the very palatable £5,495 asking price.
As you’d expect for the money and miles, it’s a little rougher round the edges than the top-rank examples, although, judging by the pictures, it sits on the right side of patinaed as opposed to ragged. I certainly can’t see any holes in the trim or bubbles and dents in the bodywork – though I seem to recall that part-leather seats were reserved for the 1.9, so presumably these have been added at some point? It also comes with an extensive history file of ‘receipts, service book and old MOTs.’ According to the last MOT, carried out at in September this year, there’s some corrosion to sort out, but that’s not structural yet, and the history backs up the seller’s suggestion that it’s had little use over the last six or seven years.
These cars are getting rare now. Just 1,200 are accounted for in the UK, and with such a strong following, it’s got to be a car worth investing in. So what should you be looking out for? Well, the XU5J engine is strong and if anything lets go, it’s generally easy to sort out. Most stuff is available and even a new set of cylinder liners is your for under £200. Brakes, engine mounts, gear linkages, suspension bushes and drop links are regular causes for concerns, but usually simple and cheap to repair or replace. Exhaust manifolds are prone to cracking and, because they sit at the back of the slanted engine, are fiddly remove when the bolts are heavily corroded.
It also appears there’s a relatively plentiful supply of used trim and electrical items out there, too. They do rot, though, so check carefully the doors, sills, front headlight panel and around the boot floor to see it’s still solid. And sunroofs. I can’t recall whether the early cars were available with the factory full-sliding glass roof? If they were, then it’s reasonable to assume this one has an aftermarket fitment. Either way, in a bonkers used market I cannot think of many cars for circa £5,000 that are the holy grail: that is a genuine icon, pretty and properly good to drive. So be quick and grab a bargain, while there are still bargains like these to be had.
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