Without question one of the best hot hatches ever built.
In a way, it's a shame that Peugeot didn't find market success in the U.S. for the sole reason that American driving enthusiasts couldn't have had regular access to Peugeot 205 GTi. There was a time when Peugeot was in the U.S. market and, for whatever reason, the French automaker opted not to bring their pocket rocket stateside. And that's a pity because Peugeot's image in the U.S. was never good (even though they tried to market themselves as upscale) and the 205 GTi could have been the model to have won (some) Americans over.
We'll obviously never know if that would have worked, but the 205 GTi is certainly one of the best hot hatches ever. Based off the multi award-winning 205 supermini, the 205 GTi had its debut in 1984. It was first powered by a 1.6-liter inline four cylinder with an output of 104hp. It was an immediate hit in Europe. Just two years later Peugeot offered the 205 GTi with a 1.9-liter inline four that produced 126hp. Both versions were offered solely as three-door hatchbacks and were mated to a manual transmission. Although they looked nearly identical from the outside, inside the 1.9-liter version featured partial leather seats, and disc brakes on all four wheels as well as 15-inch alloys.
The 1.6 model had cloth seats, rear disc brakes only and 14-inch alloys. Although they were never officially sold in the U.S., a few 205 GTi's found their way stateside thanks to the "grey import market." By the early 1990s, sales of the car began to plummet for a few reasons, one of which was the rising cost of insurance premiums. This was due to increasing cases of joyriding and street racing amongst owners (we can't imagine why). Other issues were increasing thefts and stricter emissions regulations put into place by European governments. As a result, 1992 was the final production year.
The owner of this 1991 205 GTi lives in the UK has kept the car mostly stock. The gear knob pictured here is a Momo King unit, but he plans to swap it out with a stock one. Perhaps the biggest upgrade so far is a nearly complete full stereo system. Still considered a work in progress, the rear of the car houses the subwoofers and other related components. He plans to do more to improve the look of the parcel shelf and to clean up the wiring. In the future he'd like to add some more sound deafening materials to help eliminate the rattling noises he constantly hears.
For a car that's over 20 years old, this 205 GTi is in remarkably solid shape. Sadly, Peugeot never built a proper replacement, but there have been a few recent rumors claiming that the automaker is possibly looking into something. If it were to ever happen, let's hope they stick with the 205 GTi's winning simplistic character. Photos courtesy of robbie_g.