Monday, September 26, 2016

The Other, Forgotten GTI: 1988 Peugeot 205 GTI 1.6

During the hot hatch wars of the 80’s and early 90’s Volkswagen Golf GTIs squared off with Honda Civic SIs in the United States each with a dedicated following. It looks like with the Ford Focus ST now joining the two well-known models and what seems to be and arms race of horsepower in the hatchbacks there may be a resurgence in the market. But there are hatchback models that never were modified by flat brimmed teens with street glow and stanced to a level where they scrape their oil pan on the paint while changing lanes. Here is the chance to own an unmolested beauty that was imported recently and appears to be intact and correct. Advertised on the list that is Craig’s, located in Newport News, Virginia this 1988 Peugeot 205 GTI  is yours for the mere price of $7,500; beret and baguette not included.

Approaching from the front the GTI has a classic look. Less rounded and more upright than a shrunken American Motors Corporation Pacer this small car is sometimes credited with turning Peugeot’s fortune around and was an immediate hit with over five million sold from 1983 to 1998.The car was imported from Germany in January of 2015 and yes, Virginia not only is there a Santa Claus, but a clean title from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The speedometer in in kilometers and registered around 134,000 at the time the advertisement was posted. If the car was still registered in Germany at the time of sale you know their standards required the vehicle to be in outstanding condition and the seller indicates the car is still registered with the Peugeot 205 GTI Club de France which does not allow modified cars. All good signs of a quality car you may want to consider and to top it off the advertisement is well written without the typical Craigslisteese that needs to be translated into English. Included in the writeup appears to be an honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the car as well as plenty of color photos that are in focus and not shot from a Kodak Brownie from fifty feet away.

The engine bay contains the heart of a lion. At 1.6 liters it is a small lion, but weighing less than two thousand pounds the 105 horsepower should be fun, and as the seller notes the car shines on nice, curvy roads. There was also a related 205 Turbo 16 Group B rally car version which did well in its day so this Frenchman has a great family tree. Although the rally version shared nothing but the same shape you could still have a great time and make noises while playing racer with this car.  Of course the transmission is a manual as the 205 was an economy car.  

The interior is impeccable. Wait, which interior am I talking about? The seller has two for you starting with a half leather interior and full cloth interior which he indicates can be changed over in an hour. But wait there’s more; buy now and you get a ton of spare parts including two sets of rims, extra engine, extra transmission, full head gasket and bolt set, water pump, timing belt and more. If this was a Yugo I would say these would be parts you needed to drive the car home, but with the level of devotion to the car you are truly getting a great deal for the price. Not without some issues the owner admits the car does smoke. Having checked the compression he believes it to be worn valve seals. Additional items to note are a rust spot on the passenger floor board and a few other details which are set out in the advertisement without the need to ask for additional detail.  The price is Or Best Offer so what’s the harm in looking? You may just surprise yourself after a test drive. 

Rear wing windows that pop out. Who doesn't love that? To waste time at work here is a 205 on track.

See a better car to drive while smoking Gauloises cigarettes, wearing a beret, and listening to Les Rita Mitsouko on the radio? email us here:

A refugee from the frozen north who loves running and watersports, Adam can be found looking for the next slow car to drive fast when he has access to electronics he hasn't immersed in liquids. He is an analog kid not a digital man.


  1. as soon as i saw the headline i though "zut! a real GTI... and there it is on the plate

    1. The more I look the more fun these appear to be.
      Any personal experiences with them?

    2. in America, it was never easy to run across one - across the water here, there are a few around, and they appear to be well-kept and appreciated - i will keep an eye out for one i can drive and file a report - alas, i'm bigger than i used to be, plus got used to big cars, so i'd be more inclined to actually buy a 405 Mi16 or 505 GTi ... or a 406's cousin Xantia ... which still didn't get released from the pokey, long story

    3. "across the water here..." You mean across the asteroid belt on Neptune...

  2. These are great cars and this doesn't seem like a bad example, but he's essentially asking for a price that isn't significantly different from what you could pay to get a car without the rust and motor issues imported for.

    1. Maybe a little high, but with all the parts and connections to a good parts guy are valuable. You can always test your Google-fu, for parts but I have found making a connection always pays dividends. Again it is OBO not set in stone

  3. I am the seller. Good luck finding a rust free car in Europe for less than this, and then paying to ship it here. The price is OBO, is $7500 too much? Give me an offer that is not offensive and we'll talk.


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