Project Peugeot: Get the angle grinder out

Project Peugeot: Get the angle grinder out

Work has begun in earnest on our Project Peugeot restoration venture - and I've already got my hands dirty helping out.

For a man with about as much mechanical knowledge as a table, this really is quite a personal achievement, even if said work merely involved unscrewing a few rusty bolts.> Our J-reg Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9 is currently in the hands of Fix Auto Petersfield. Under the stewardship of boss James Poste, the little hot hatch is in the process of being stripped back to a bare shell.

When we popped in to catch up on the work, James had been to work on the car with his "correcting pen".

Covered in pink marks, our GTi looked like Banksy's latest piece of street art but in fact the scrawling highlighted scratches, poor paintwork and dents. Yes, there were lots.

First job when we arrived was to help strip the front end. On the outside J39 JMR looked pretty solid but once we delved under the skin, it was a hotchpotch of rust and a minefield of clips that had been cobbled together over many years.

The bumper wasn't particularly easy to remove. Although most of the bodywork is pretty rust-free the fasteners had corroded heavily, making detaching them almost impossible.

Thankfully James and his team had a handy solution for that - an angle grinder and belt sander. "It's not unusual to have to shear the heads off bolts during this process," he explained.

Project Peugeot: Get the angle grinder out

"We can replace them when we put the car back together again. The important bit now is stripping it back," he added.

James, who is leading the 80-hour re-spray, has suggested we also look to replace some of the badges and other exterior styling parts. The instantly recognisable badges on the rear flanks came in for particular criticism, as they're badly faded on both sides.

He also thinks we should add headlights and indicators to our search for spotlights, which were missing already. "When the paintwork is immaculate - and it will be when we've finished with it - your eye will be drawn to the lights, bumpers and other details and if they're tatty it will ruin the overall look of the car," he said.

It will be interesting to see just how many of those parts are still available from Peugeot and which ones we will have to scour eBay to find.

Right, now I'm off to browse the world's biggest online purveyor of tat for old French car parts... I'll bring you more news when I have it.

Watch the video diary below

Project Peugeot Part Two: Assessing the damage
Project Peugeot Part One: How we got our hands on a hot hatch classic
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