Project Peugeot: We embark on refurbishing classic 205 GTI 1.9

Project Peugeot: We embark on refurbishing classic 205 GTI 1.9

I'm of that age. My hairs are greying, my taste in radio stations is changing and my appetite for Fosters has been replaced with a fondness for red wine. Yes, I'm getting middle aged.

But with those cons come some pros too – and an important one is a distinct appreciation of cars of a certain age. But they aren't Porsches and Ferraris that I hanker for, no these are more run-of-the-mill motors, the sort you'd see thousands of on the roads in the early to late nineties.
It doesn't matter what age you are, there are always cars you coveted in your teens that when you hit your 30s you really must own. For me it's all about 80s hot hatches. From Ford XR2s (one of which I already own) to Golf GTI MKI and MKIIs, and from Renault 5 GT Turbos to Fiat Uno Turbos – if I saw them speeding down the High Street in my youth, you can guarantee that I want one now.

However, the car I really, really wanted to get behind the wheel of was always the Peugeot 205 GTI. I fancied the 1.6-litre version first and even weighed up the insurance costs (£3,500 for third party) at the tender age of 18. But for most fans, the 1.9 GTI was the one to go for – the larger alloy wheels, the bigger engine – it was enough to make most grown men weak at the knees.

Now, more than a decade later, it's little different. So, when I got a phone call from my equally hot hatch obsessed mechanic mate Matt offering me the car you see here, I knew my wallet would soon be lighter.

Meet J39 JMR – the new AOL Cars Project Peugeot. The plan is a simple one: get the old girl back into fine fettle and document the process – hopefully inspiring a few readers to do the same in the process. I don't know about you, but I've always wanted a project car, I've just never had the time or knowledge to get it off the ground.

Now, with the help of some good industry contacts, AOL Cars plans to show you how to tackle a project of your own.

So, what's J39 JMR like? Well, she's actually in pretty good nick. Mechanic Matt, of White's Motors in Portsmouth, bought two other 205 GTIs at the same time as this one and let us have the nicer one of the three. He paid £1,000 so we added a £200 finder's fee on top and snapped her up.

She hasn't got an MOT or tax – but Matt doesn't think the former will be any hassle. He's already stripped the brakes down and cleaned them up, and there's no sign of corrosion under the body. And he's sure a service will be all she needs mechanically.

Those classic alloy wheels, though, are in need of some TLC and unfortunately the paintwork is beyond salvageable in places. The plan is to get the alloys refurbished and find a good body shop that can re-spray her.

As it's a late example, J39 JMR has got power steering – something some purists won't like – but it is pre-cat, which was something that really did ruin these little hot hatches. The interior is lovely, it's got electric windows and sunroof, and the original stereo is still in place, so there are lots of positives.

So the plan? Well, first up is that all-important MOT. Then we'll start the process of sprucing her up. We'll be posting regular updates about her progress here, but in the meantime we'd love to hear your stories about your favourite eighties and nineties hot hatches – tell us about them in the comments section below.

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Project Peugeot: We embark on refurbishing classic 205 GTI 1.9

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