Mr. Orlove forced me to become a Peugeot 205 GTi owner. Thanks Raphael. Really, thank you. I can now say from experience they're truly great cars. I bought mine in August this year, a car that provided a solid basis but which needed a lot of love. And love it received.
I haven't driven it that much just yet, but I think I can now form an informed opinion.

As it sat on the seller's property.

As evidenced by my comment thread on the Fantasy Garage article on the Jalopnik front page article from last August the article motivated me to look for 205 GTis for sale. I found very few, but I did find this one car that looked promising. It had been owned by an 18 year old guy (red flag!) for one year at that time, but he did seem sympathetic. The car was priced right for an utterly original, nice-ish but certainly not perfect car. Because I hadn't done my homework properly and I'm far from a mechanic I missed a number of items I could haggle the seller down on, but I was already in love so what can I say? My second offer was accepted and I had bought an icon.

After driving it for about 1200 km in 1 week I brought it to my mechanic friend. He worked on it for a few hours a week for months, in his spare time in his large shed. The following things were done:

  • Drive shaft, left and right.
  • Rear tires replaced, old ones had enough thread but were ancient. Front tires are from 2013, so I kept those.
  • Anti-roll bar left. The one on the right had been replaced recently already
  • Transmission oil, engine oil, brake oil, coolant and filters/seals
  • Part of a brake line
  • Unstuck stuck power window
  • Brake shoe
  • Brake cylinder
  • Strut bearing
  • Spark plugs + one spark plug cable
  • Serpentine belt
  • Valve cover gasket
  • Rear window washer fluid pump
  • Rear window wiper motor
  • EGR, which was already broken, delete
  • Made front right headlight water proof
  • Door side seat bolster foam for both front seats
  • Front blinker lenses. Amber in stead of the later model year clear ones
  • Mismatched door, ignition and hatch locks replaced by a single set
  • Installed seatbelts (3) for the back seat, which apparently was merely an option in the 80s
  • Rebalanced the doors
  • Fixed one (surface) rust spot caused by a not properly hung door and one other similar spot.
  • Repainted passenger side below side trim, as that's where the two rust spots were. Remounted trim panels with brackets that seamed to be made of unobtanium.
  • Replaced limp dashboard compartment lid

As my mechanic only worked on the car for a few hours a week he took multiple months. I dropped the car off late August, I picked it up December 9th. It was worth the wait though. Gone were the vibrations when accelerating when cornering. No more rough starts that required some throttle. Crumbled bolster cushions were a thing of the past. The two (surface) rust spots on the passenger side? Gone too. It wasn't cheap, but was certainly worth it.

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The car is a blast to drive. It's not the fastest car on the road, but it's just so eager and direct. The throttle reacts when you think about touching it. The handling and the acceleration feel great. It's just so direct, pure. It doesn't even have power steering, as it was optional for this car. I don't miss it for a second, the car doesn't weigh a thing. I'm sure many modern vehicles perform better when measured by a stopwatch, but they don't even come close to the enjoyment, the perception of speed and agility this car provides. And that's what it's all about. It's a great car for city driving and, more importantly, back roads. It can hold its own on the highway and I've had the speedometer on 180 km/h (112 mph) on the German Autobahn, but that's not what this car is meant for. The gearing is too short and the sound deadening doesn't comply with modern expectations. But on back roads it shines. Even today, especially today.

So thanks again Raphael.

Sadly I've not been able to snap some high quality pictures of the car as it is now. It's winter, the weather sucks, days are short and workdays are long. The pictures below don't do the car justice, due to the lighting and the partially wet plastic trim.

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Do you still see the rust spots? I don't.

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As it was before:

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As above, but cleaned up. Before paint. Clearly a shallow (former) rust spot.

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One big bonus of this 1980s car is that there's this little compartment located above the center HVAC openings. It's meant for storing coins and other small stuff. It, however, also perfectly mounts a smart phone. This is usefull when you want to use it as navigation or as a music player with an AUX cable. Taking a picture of your camera is hard, hence the crappy picture taken by some ancient Nokia at night, but with some effort I think you can make out what I mean.