PEUGEOT 205 REVIEW

The Peugeot 205 is a chic Eighties number, and it isn’t just the legendary GTI that deserves the plaudits. Classic motoring doesn’t get cheaper.

Peugeot launched the 205 in 1983, it was as great to drive as it was to look at. It’s no wonder Car magazine crowned the 205 its car of the decade for the Eighties – this was the car that had it all. Affordability, reliability and a wide choice of engines meant there was a 205 for everyone, from ultra-economical diesels to the storming GTI.

While the GTI gets all the column inches in the classic press, there was a whole range of 205s which are still worth a look. A car that’s still seen as everyday cheap transport by many, the Peugeot 205 can be far more than that. Diesels are especially frugal and long-lived.

There are still lots of low-mileage cars about, so find one and cherish it. You’ll pay peanuts for it, you can maintain it yourself and every drive will be a blast. Buy now because interest in the Eighties is growing.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Transmission

Most 205s came with a five-speed manual gearbox, although 1.0 and some 1.1-litre editions featured a ratio less. There was also an automatic transmission offered, initially with three speeds, later with four. Transmissions are strong, but clutches usually last just 30-40,000 miles; wear manifests itself as a difficulty in selecting reverse.

Engine

Three ranges of petrol engines were fitted, starting with the XV/XW/XY in 954, 1124 and 1360cc forms. The XU was used for the GTI, CTI and automatic models in 1580 and 1905cc guises, while the TU, evolved from the earlier range, came in the same displacements and was the only range which included a cast iron version (TU3/FM – 1360cc). All other petrol engines were alloy with cast wet liners.

The earlier units faced the bulkhead; with the gearbox underneath, you had to remove the engine to open it up. Later engines sit upright and have a timing belt instead of a chain, with a gearbox on the end.

The all-alloy engines can’t cope with neglect. Camshafts and valve guides wear within 60,000 miles if the engine is thrashed. Treated well, they can easily clock up 130,000 miles.

Every 72,000 miles, or five years, the cambelt should be renewed; if the belt has been changed recently, but the engine isn’t happy, make sure the ignition timing has been set up properly. The distributor is driven directly off the camshaft and it’s easy for it to get knocked out of adjustment. There was also a diesel which has a cambelt. This ran for the life of the 205, eventually being offered in turbo form. It’s a strong unit.

 

OUR VERDICT

The 205 was a best seller for several reasons – practicality, affordability, choice and reliability were just some of the key ones. While it may seem rather modern to be badged as a classic, and the car that saved Peugeot’s bacon in the Eighties, the 205 deserves some recognition as an all-time great.

It’s unlikely that any 205 will ever be valuable; even the much sought-after GTI editions are unlikely to ever be worth a fortune. So buying any 205 as an investment will probably only disappoint – but if you’re after a great-looking modern classic than you can use every day and maintain yourself, you’ll have to look hard to find a better candidate.

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