Sometimes the story isn't quite as fair as it should be and it forgets a lot along the way. After all, that same story is written by the winners, who obviously take all the credit. But, if you dive a bit and “dig” here and there, you can find very interesting things that, despite not being a secret, are usually a bit hidden. For example, Did you know that the Peugeot 205 was not actually a PSA project? Like the 309 it was not going to be a Peugeot.
The Peugeot 205 was born from the M24 project. Which Simca had started in 1976 and whose objective was to develop a vehicle with two volumes and contained size, which was to occupy the place left by the Simca 1100. To be more exact, Simca would stop selling cars and its place would be taken by Talbot. Which had already launched the Horizon on the market. The Horizon was slightly larger than the Simca 1100. But due to space and design, as well as target customers, it occupied part of the Simca's market share. Thus, the M24 project would occupy the gap that was left just one step below.
Talbot was on his way to end up with Simca saying goodbye to the market. While Peugeot needed to make an almost radical change to its situation or, finally, it would end up in the drawer of oblivion with the two brands that they themselves had sentenced. So, they took the M24 project and continued its development, taking advantage of the fact that part of the work had been done and they could save a significant cost. The result of the M24 project was, as you all know, the Peugeot 205. Which was presented on February 24, 1983.
High hopes had been placed on that car since the brand was not going through its best moment. But no one expected that this small model, destined to be called the Peugeot 105, would save the French firm from bankruptcy and would become one of the biggest icons of the firm. It is a myth in the automobile industry along with others such as the Renault 5 or the Ford Fiesta. And also, with great ties to Spain. Since it was assembled in Villaverde (where the Citroën C4 are currently manufactured, in the old Barreiros factory).
But as often happens, although it was really the most popular versions that made the 205 a mythical vehicle due to its high number of sales, the most remembered variants are obviously the most powerful and sporty. Who does not remember the disproportionate Peugeot 205 T16? Car "street” to approve the one who would compete in the Group B, currently highly valued, easily exceeding 200.000 euros at auction. And what about the Peugeot 205 Rallye? A car for purists, quite radical and very rewarding to drive. Which was totally eclipsed by the more than mythical Peugeot 205 GTi. More powerful and more equipped, but also heavier, the 205 GTi is one of the most desired utility vehicles with the most followers in the world. Rivers of ink have been written about this car and today, it still continues to be a benchmark.
ABOVE ITS RIVALS IN PERFORMANCE AND BEHAVIOR
If we take a look at the tests of the time - something quite simple although 30 years have passed thanks to the infinity of fans who share their documents - you realize that the Peugeot 205 GTi must have something that the others lacked. For example, the magazine Autopista, in March 1987, published a test of the 205 GTi with the 1.9 CV 130 engine (magazine number 1.444, March 19, 87) in which it said that the Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9 it was overwhelmingly effective. Although he also mentioned that the rear, in violent braking, gave the impression of wanting to overtake the driver.
The 205 GTi arrived, in the first instance with a 105 hp engine. Which soon went on to offer 115 CV. However, he was criticized because both versions were lacking in punch. Due to a chassis that could handle much more and some rivals who had set the level very, very high. Let's not forget that, at that time, the Renault 5 GT Turbo left everyone speechless with the power of its supercharged engine. Or a Volkswagen Polo G40, which in the aforementioned test was praised in the way it delivers the power of its engine.
When the 1.905 cc engine appeared, things changed remarkably. Power rose to 130 hp at 6.000 revs and torque rose to 16,8 mkg (156,9 Nm) at 4.250 revs. Thus it automatically became the most powerful sports utility vehicle of the moment. The mythical Supercinco GT Turbo arrived, first, with 115 CV and later, it went on to yield 120 CV.
The Ford Fiesta XR2 could not even be considered as a rival. Since in its first edition it had an engine with 96 CV and in the second, already in 1989, it was set at 110 CV. The Volkswagen Polo G40 offered 113 CV and the Citroën Visa GTi, which had the same 1.6 hp 105 engine as the first edition of the 205 GTi, was equally behind in power. Not even the Citroën AX Sport launched in 1987 could cope with it, and that despite having "solo” 96 CV, weighed 720 kilos.
In fact, the Peugeot 205 GTi was compared and continues to be compared to higher category cars. For example, it's easy to see clashes with the Volkswagen Golf GTi II. That with the eight-valve cylinder head yielded 115 CV and with the 16-valve one it went to 139 CV. You can also find comparisons with the Opel Kadett GSi, whose case is similar to that of the Golf GTi, with 130 CV in its eight-valve variant (with 16 valves it became the most desired compact of its time, thanks to its 156 CV). .
But the 205 GTi not only became famous for being the most powerful in its segment and for putting higher category cars against the ropes, the Peugeot was a highly desired car because, in addition, it was very good in general. The first two versions, the least powerful, had a set-up that, although it made them very efficient, was also very easy to drive and even a bit soft. The 130bhp GTi changed that perception by combining new front axle settings, a thicker rear stabilizer, and larger wheels (six inches wide and 15 inches in diameter).
AND YOU, WOULD YOU DARE?
The 205 GTi did not take long to become an icon within the segment and occupy the dreams of hundreds of thousands of fans, of those who could not get hold of one, obviously, because that is something else to take into account. The Peugeot 205 GTi was not a cheap car. As the sports versions of any model have never been. However, it is surprising how far the "little” 205 GTi, because a unit was auctioned for more than 80.000 euros and there are those who ask for more than 30.000 euros for one of them. Have we gone crazy? Perhaps, especially after seeing that the car is already "pinch (made with three fingers)from the restomoders.
For many restomods are a huge sacrilege. Just those who will be thinking that touching, even if it is only a screw from a Peugeot 205 GTi is enough to cut off the hands of whoever does it. And partly, as always, they will be right. Because any change that is made to a car, especially one that is 30 years old, can completely change its true essence. But, as has been proven on a few occasions (such as Alfaholic with Alfa Romeo or Emery with his Porsche 356s), a well-done restomod can make for a sensational car. with the essence of “old car” but enjoying some more current things. A compendium of the best of two worlds.
The Peugeot 205 GTi had not been the subject of restomods until now. Everyone was focused on other makes and models. But the fashion of “modified restorations” it is getting closer to being a market trend and not only that, a fashion. And in the end, the mythical 205 GTi has had its turn. Nevertheless, It has been a British company who has dared to do such work and the British generally have good taste in cars and their motoring culture prevents them from making any aberrations. Specifically, it has been Tolman Engineering. Based in the United Kingdom, it has created what is possibly one of the best 205 GTi in the world: the Peugeot 205 GTi Tolman Edition. A restomod made with great taste and above all, with great respect for the mythical French model.
Like all restomod, the first thing that is carried out is a restoration of everything necessary, to the point of investing 700 hours of work in each unit. One of the best news is the anti-corrosion coating, as well as a gravel protection and a ceramic coating. The 205 GTi Tolman Edition hold up better over time than the originals and that is appreciated in a 30-year-old car. For this alone, it is already worthwhile that Tolman Engineering has bothered to keep an eye on the utility.
There are other things you may not like as much, like what Tolman does with the engine. Christopher Tolman had created his own restomod on a 205 GTi with the 1.6 engine and it turned out so good, that he received all kinds of praise, even convincing the owner of Tolman Engineering to create a Tolman Edition” with the improvements he made to his own car. But this time, it would be about the version with “big engine”, on 1.9. For him, the cylinder head is revised and improved, a new stainless steel exhaust is installed and an electronic control unit is added. All this among other things that allow the power to go from the original 130 CV to no less than 203 CV. Thus, it completes 0 to 100 km/h in 6,5 seconds and reaches 225 km/h.
However, the gearbox has to match or those engine upgrades won't help. So every component of the original five-speed is stripped, checked, and upgraded. Which is accompanied by new suspensions with Bilstein shock absorbers, adjustable front arms and a new rear stabilizer. The brakes are AP Racing with metal hoses.
Inside, Tolman carries out a spectacular restoration, leaving everything better than when it left the factory but without modifying a single section. Respecting colours, shapes and materials, although a completely new upholstery is incorporated. They only allow themselves the luxury of putting a Motec digital instrumentation which, although it may seem like a heresy, represents a dial design exactly the same as the original. It also has connectivity with mobile phones (Android and Apple).
YES, IT IS EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE
As one would expect, although at first glance it doesn't look like they've done anything (and that's a real luck), the car is almost new, and tremendously expensive. If you want a Peugeot 205 GTi Tolman Edition (they are offered with left or right hand drive), you will have to shell out around 64.000 euros.
Would you buy a 205 GTi Tolman Edition? It's more… Would you use a Peugeot 205 GTi for a restomod?
Photos: Tolman Engineering / PSA / Volkswagen Media / Renault Classic