V.I.S.I.T: '89 Peugeot 205

205a

Parking garages, multi-storey car parks, vertically-tiered parking lots, call them what you will. Make a Saturday afternoon trip to the shops and they offer you two things; somewhere to stash the jalopy while your better half makes merry with the credit card; and somewhere to sneak around with a mobile phone camera and take poor quality, poorly composed photos of whatever rare and wonderful wheels might crop up.

Today I rather feel I’ve excelled myself, especially in terms of photographic terribility. And I haven’t seen one of these 205s for a while, either.


The Peugeot 205 was one of those iconic family hatchbacks that were literally everywhere during the ’80s and much of the 90s, but which have gradually gone the way of all flesh and evaporated from UK roads.  Taking over from the Talbot Horizon (wow, what a hard act o follow…) in the newly enlarged  Peugeot group in 1983, 205 was very nearly voted Car Of The Year, but that honour instead went to the Fiat Uno. There were two flavours, a rather pert three-door that everybody always says was designed by Pininfarina, and the five-door which always managed to look bland and frumpy despite having the exact same size and silhouette.

205b

Of course, it’s the “interesting” models that get all the adoration, the XS, GTI and Rally models continue to be worshipped to this day, and deservedly so. As such, those variants seem to make up the majority of surviving 205s left. In other words, if a 205 isn’t one of the above (or a diesel; the 205 GRD and XRD in normally aspirated or turbocharged forms are much-prized due to their ability to be made to run on a tankful of pretty much any old rubbish),  it must have a very special reason for having been preserved for twenty-four years.

205c

I thought I’d nailed it pretty quickly when I clocked the “automatic” emblem at the back. Now, unlike certain other parts of the world, automatic transmissions were always seen as bit “why would you want one of those?” in anything that wasn’t a big, chromium plated luxo-barge. Drivers, by and large, preferred to row-their-own, and people who’s driving licenses were scarred with the words “Automatic Only” are pitied and mocked. In fade-into-the-background grey/bronze, the majority of this type of 205 would have been bought, cherished and loved by a motorist of advancing years.

205f

In fact, the 205 Automatic received its motivational thrust from the same 1.6 litre engine as the original GTI, albeit in a lower state of tune that meshed more suitably with the characteristics of a fairly rudimentary ZF automatic gearbox. Equipment-wise, the Automatic was aligned with the middle-rung models, not as stark as the entry level cars but by no means as glitzy as the Roland Garros examples which veritably dripped with leather and baubles.

205e

It wasn’t until I brazenly slapped my camera against the window to attempt an interior shot, when I realised what was probably the key reason for this car surviving as long as it has; the steering wheel is on the wrong side.

205d

How didn’t I notice it earlier? I guess it’s from having spent too long on this website, surrounded by images of cars with the wheel in the west. What it means, though, is that this car has likely spent a fair portion of its life somewhere else in Europe. There’s bound to be a story to it; maybe a couple retired to the South of France, bought a nice little automatic Peugeot locally and brought it home when they returned to this stormy, claustrophobic country. Or maybe it’s owned by a local who uses it for the occasional trip across the channel? If you’re the owner and happen to be reading this, let us know.

Whatever the story, this little Pug deserves its survival, and I hope it keeps on languidly groaning along for years to come. It certainly has the look of a car being kept alive out of love, not just necessity.

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11 responses to “V.I.S.I.T: '89 Peugeot 205”

  1. mdharrell Avatar

    I hesitate to open the utterly baffling and surprisingly touchy subject of British registration plates, but doesn't the "F" prefix indicate that it's been registered in GB pretty much since it was new?

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Might do, might just be a coincidence. The F prefix signifies 1989, but there's a fair chance that the car was issued an age-related number when it was re-registered from Euroland to UK. They try to register cars appropriately if the original vehicle details are known

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Fair enough, although I thought that the combination of (1) the history and current status of non-transferability of some registrations and (2) the long-standing discontinuation of that particular style of plate construction (even as reproductions) would make it extremely unlikely, if not impossible, that those plates were assigned to that car after 1989.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          Any car accessories shop will rustle up a set of plates like these for you for a tenner, as long as you can show them the reg document. The format of this registration, e.g X999XXX was current up to 2001, but the DVLA still recognise that age-related plates for earlier than that still need to be issued.

    2. Battles Avatar

      Chris will have the number plate from the original photos, he could put them in to the UK DVLA website (https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla) and find the date of first registration in the UK.

  2. Vavon Avatar

    <img src="http://clakzundgo.com/dev1/img/0000PHOTO1/00001A205/0205gerard-welter-.jpg"&gt;
    Gerard Welter (the true designer of the 205) approves!

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar
  3. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Tidy little econobox. The automatic version sounds ghastly. Makes me think about slapping in a supercharged V-6 and welding the rear doors shut. Maybe just getting some bigger tires and better rims. And a really big exhaust tip. Sad we never got that in the US.

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar

      Gordinis, all the way down, so it is, so shall it ever be.

    2. Tristan Avatar

      Apparently there are more Renault Fuego Turbo die cast models then actual cars left in existence.

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