By the end of the 1980s it seemed like every other drive in suburban Britain was home to a Peugeot 205.
Over five million 205s were produced over its 15 year production run – but only a select few lucky folk (or their mums) could boast ownership of its sexiest incarnation, the 205 GTi.
Hardly surprising. The £6500 a GTi would have cost you was a tidy sum in 1984. But in retrospect it was a small price to pay for such an era-defining car. It was hilariously fun to drive and it cemented an emerging genre that is as popular as ever today. The 205 GTi, after all, represented the birth of the production hot hatch.
The energy the 205 GTi generated was the result of a was a simple mix of style, speed and handling. If you loved to drive then the way the front wheel drive and the transverse engine was set up, combined with lightness of the car's chassis, meant that this was the car to own. It made the MK1 Golf GTi feel clunkily teutonic in comparison.
Peugeot’s chief designer Gerard Welter had replaced the boxier lines of the competition's early front driven hatches with a more rounded, sensual figure that made this car more appealing for aesthetically inclined boy and girl racers. There was something feminine in its attitude and svelte in the way it would handle.
It all came down to a superbly balanced set up. The new belt driven overhead camshaft engine was mounted transversely across the front engine bay driving the front wheels. Combining the 105 bhp it delivered with the light frame (under 900kg) meant you could achieve 116mph with your foot hard down. The state-of-the-art electronically controlled fuel injection system would get you to speed very quickly for the time. 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds was pretty rapid – especially for a car you might be able to afford and that could negotiate a suburban roundabout as deftly as anything on the road.
If you weren’t satisfied with the grunt of the 1.6 you only had to wait a couple more years before the 1.9 version hit the streets of Britain. This offered you an extra 11 mph on your top end. If you’d kept your machine in good order and managed not to stick it in a hedge then it probably wouldn’t owe you much on its thirtieth birthday.
An immaculate 1987 model 1.6 GTi has just gone on sale in original gun smoke grey for £5999. If you were old enough to have owned the original then you can more than likely even afford the insurance premiums these days.
We've posted this before, but it's so good we think it deserves another share.