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Peugeot 205 GTI buying guide

Peugeot 205 GTI cornering Peugeot 205 GTI interior Peugeot 205 GTI engine Pug1Off 205 GTI-6 Peugeot 205 GTI Phase 1 Peugeot 205 GTI Phase 1 1.9 The 205 was a game-changer for Peugeot back in 1983. But the lion really went from strength to strength a year later when the GTI was launched, initially with a 105bhp 1.6-litre engine. Doesn’t sound much now but it was a baby fireball back then, vying with the Golf Mk2 GTI and Renault 5 GT Turbo for status of hot hatch king. Suddenly yuppies everywhere wanted a Peugeot – and that was unheard of. The 205 GTI had revolutionised the company’s previously boring image overnight.

It still has a cult following throughout Europe, with large numbers of enthusiasts enjoying these fun French hatchbacks. 205GTIs are legendary for their lively handling and strong power-to-weight ratios. In fact, that lightness is a double-edged sword: no modern equivalent is as wieldy, yet you might wish for a greater feeling of solidity. Overlook that and you’re getting all the fun of a sports car with practicality you can really live with.

What does the market think? 

Miles Horne of Hampshire-based Peugeot specialist PugRacing has been obsessed with 205s since he bought his first GTI in 1988, and has built up a business specialising in rebuilding road cars and preparing track and rally cars to an extremely high standard. ‘Gone are the days of finding a usable car for £250. Even tatty ones start from around £600 now, with nice examples likely to cost at least £2500.’

Post-1990 Phase 2 cars are generally the most desirable, and the easiest to find in top condition: £4000-4500 would get you into one of the best 1.9s out there; £3500 for a 1.6 in similar condition. The considerably rarer Phase 1s are rapidly becoming more collectable, but are on the whole worth slightly less with the exception of absolutely original examples. Offering the greatest value are the most common ’87-90 Phase 1.5 cars, which you could pick up for about £2500.

Whichever 205 you go for, condition has the biggest impact on price. It isn’t unusual to see fully restored cars with £6500-7000 price tags; original and truly exceptional 30,000-mile cars have been know to sell for more than £10,000 in extreme cases.

It’s also worth considering one of the many different special editions. The highly desirable Phase 1.5 Sorrento Green and Miami Blue GTIs from 1989 came with a full leather interior and power steering. More common Phase 2s are available in these colours, but they’re less well-specified and hence not as desirable.

The 205 remains hugely popular in tuning circles, with many people choosing to fit more modern and powerful 16-valve or turbocharged engines – well-known companies such as Gutmann and Turbo Technics sold fully built cars in the late ’80s, but there are also plenty of home-made conversions on the market. It’s advisable to give converted cars a wide berth unless the work has been carried out by a reputable specialist, or you know exactly what you are looking for.

Common 205 GTI problems and costs

Contrary to popular opinion, the 205 is not a badly made car. True, some of the interior plastics feel a little flimsy (especially on early cars), the body panels are paper-thin and cars can often look tired, but it’s generally well engineered. A well-maintained 205 will rarely cause headaches.

The all-aluminium XU engines are strong, but high-mileage or thrashed examples might show blue smoke on start-up and on overrun. In most cases that’s just worn valve stem seals. Finding one with a slightly tired gearbox is not uncommon, but the main thing to watch for is worn-out synchromesh on third and fourth gears. Miles reckons that any GTI should have had – or will need – a full engine/transmission overhaul by now. ‘Most 205s will have been driven hard, and they are all getting quite old now. It can be easy to spend over £1000 just renewing all the basics.’

If the rear end of the car is creaking, it probably needs a rear suspension rebuild. ‘There is no science to knowing when it will need a rebuild. I’ve seen 150,000-mile cars that are still perfect, and supposedly concours cars that were totally unserviceable.’ If a 205 is driven for long periods with damaged rear axle bearings, the beam will seize, which puts strain on the bodyshell. The entire beam will probably need to be replaced with a reconditioned unit. Pay up to £350 to renew the bearings, and £800 for a replacement beam.

You will struggle to find any 205 that hasn’t had some new paintwork. The original finish was never brilliant and many have faded, with lacquer peel commonplace. It is usually easy to spot a bad crash repair. Pay special attention to the front chassis legs and inner wings; rust in strange places often points to accident damage.

‘Corrosion is less of a problem than in many contemporary rivals, but the rot is really beginning to set in,’ says Miles. ‘Check the boot floor and suspension mounts, front inner wings, and the seam between the bulkhead and floorpan – which is easier said than done. The original factory underseal can hide a multitude of sins too, so be careful.’

Another common area for corrosion is behind the fuel tank, as well as the rigid brake lines in the same area. ‘It’s amazing the state that you find these in; usually they’re the original pipes. They won’t be picked up on an MoT and I’ve seen them so bad that even a gentle prod has them crumbling.’

Should you buy a retro hot hatch?

Whether you’re after a usable everyday classic, or something to cherish for years to come, there is a 205GTI out there for you. Top-condition cars are starting to fetch serious money and will probably stay strong, but there are plenty of good cars available for modest amounts.

Given regular servicing and proper mechanical maintenance, these cars are extremely reliable and a joy to drive. There are various different clubs, a healthy number of specialists and reasonable parts availability from Peugeot so, with interest in 1980s classics surging, now is a great time to buy.


February 1983 Peugeot 205 range launched in France.
April 1984 105bhp 205GTI 1.6 goes on sale in the UK.
February 1985 Minor spec changes to the GTI, including softer suspension after complaints of an overly hard ride on early cars.
April 1986 Power increased to 115bhp with an uprated cylinder head and camshaft.
June 1986 Convertible 1.6CTI launched; styled and partly built by Pininfarina.
December 1986 130bhp 1.9 GTI launched, featuring the 1905cc XU9 engine with the same Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection as the 1.6. Fitted with all-round disc brakes, half-leather interior and electric windows as standard.
September 1987 Phase 1.5 introduced, featuring a more modern dashboard, three-spoke steering wheel, higher-quality plastics and different seat patterns. All Peugeots including the 205 are now fully galvanised.
August 1989 Another minor update, with new BE3 gearbox, slightly larger two-piece exhaust, and power steering made available as an option.
September 1990 GTI receives a minor cosmetic facelift, with clear indicator lenses and smoked rear lamp units, black dashboard and trim, as well as the option of Bendix ABS. CTI receives an electric hood.
September 1992 Production of the 1.6 ends.
October 1992 1.9 gets the 122bhp catalyst engine.
April 1994 Production of the 1.9 GTI and CTI ceases.
Peugeot 205 GTI cornering Peugeot 205 GTI interior Peugeot 205 GTI engine Pug1Off 205 GTI-6 Peugeot 205 GTI Phase 1 Peugeot 205 GTI Phase 1 1.9
Last updated: 3rd Dec 2014
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Peugeot 205 cars for sale

4 Search results
Peugeot 205
1995 12995 GBP
  • The engine bay is pretty much spotless having been stripped and detailed during the car's light restoration. Numerous components were painted or plated to factory specification, and the cambelt was also replaced at this time. Naturally there are no signs of corrosion to the inner wings along with zero deterioration to the plastics, rubber trim, or soundproofing.

    • Year: 1991

    Last update: 22 Days Old

    • Mileage: 44625 mi

    For sale
  • 4 Star Classics
    01483 274347
    see details
  • Quick Overview This great example of the very rare Phase 1 Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi has just been earmarked for sale from our MD's private collection at Specialist Vehicle Preparations and is being put through our workshop as part of the preparation process.

    Last update: About 3 Hours Old
    For sale
  • SVP
    01299 251152
    see details
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