The Peugeot 205 1.9 GTI - my first hot hatch
Despite a huge insurance premium which was the same as the cost of the car and various repairs due to the rather flaky French build quality
The Peugeot 206 1.9 GTI was a car that I myself owned and I loved it, having first got hold of one these French hot hatchs at the tender age of 18 years old it had everything, power, great handling and great looks. I mean it had a red carpet which was awesome.
At the time it had many rivals such as the Renault 5 GT turbo and the Ford Escort XR3i but to me the little Pug 205 was where it was at for car lust for me 20 years ago. The handling was sublime and the power it produced allowed me to always stay ahead of my XR2 driving friends.
Despite a huge insurance premium which was the same as the cost of the car (£1,900 for the car, £17,50 for insurance) and various repairs due to the rather flaky French build quality, silicon cracking issues anyone?. I still have happy memories of flying around in this car, it was the car that made me a car guy, the one that instilled that passion for cars that is still with me today.
I did once also almost lose my 205 GTi when some toerags 'attempted' to steal it from a car park in the east midlands, the damage was huge. Some weeks later and £500 lighter I got my beloved 205 GTi back only to exchange it for a 309 GTi instead.
Time for a history lesson with some numbers.....
The Peugeot 205 1.6 GTI was launched in 1984, and came with a XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, for the 1987 model year the XU5J received the cylinder head with larger valves from the 1.9 GTI's XU9JA engine thus becoming XU5JA.
The new engine was quoted for 115 bhp. The 1.9 GTI came with an XU9JA engine producing 128 PS, although later models with a catalytic converter produced 122 PS.
Internally these engines are very similar, the main differences on 1.9-litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6-litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9-litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTI and the 1.9 GTI are half-leather seats (1.9 GTI) vs. cloth seats (1.6 GTI); and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTI) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back (1.6 GTI); as well as the 14-inch (360 mm) alloy (Speedline SL201) wheels (1.6 GTI) vs. 15 inch (Speedline SL299) alloys (1.9 GTI).
With the early success of the 205 GTI in Europe, Motor Trend reported in 1984 that Peugeot was seriously considering adding it to its US lineup, even though Peugeot had a more upmarket image in the United States.Nothing ever came of such rumours, however, and any talk of Peugeot expanding its presence in US became moot when it was forced to pull out in 1991.
Sales of the GTI in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s were badly hit by soaring insurance premiums, brought about by high theft and 'joyriding' of cars of this sort. Increasingly stringent emissions regulations meant the 1.6 GTI went out of production in 1992, while the 1.9 was sold for a couple more years thanks to re-engineering of the engine to enable it to work properly with a catalytic converter, which dropped power to 122 bhp .
A classic worthy of the GTI moniker I think you will agree.