Whilst writing for BlackTopMedia recently, reminiscing about the iconic Peugeot 205 GTi and its impact on a rather more youthful MotorMartin, it seemed rather appropriate that Peugeot chose that moment to get in contact with the news that back in 2013, PEUGEOT UK set its apprentices a challenge to develop their skills and to gain experience beyond the brand’s current model line-up by asking them to choose a historic model to restore and enhance. The choice wasn’t a surprise, and despite the car in question being 30 years old and a model from their parent’s generation, the unanimous decision saw one of PEUGEOT’s most iconic vehicles return to the UK headquarters; the PEUGEOT 205 GTi.
Peugeot have shared with MotorMartin that with the car found and delivered, the apprentices were quick to suggest ideas for the restoration. Performance was a focal point for the widely-celebrated hot hatch, with some keen to make a track-ready example. However, it was decided, correctly in MotorMartin’s opinion, to take the car back to its roots and create as close-to-original example of the car as possible, but with a twist to really push the skills of the team. Overall, the project took two years to complete, with every PEUGEOT UK apprentice during this time being involved in the project.
Initially, the apprentices systematically stripped the vehicle, labelling every component, ready for the body shop to start the body and paint repairs. Then, they overhauled the running gear during their training weeks, ready for it to be re-installed into the car.
During this process, adding more performance was debated and a more powerful PEUGEOT 1.9-litre petrol Mi16 engine was introduced to the project. Over the next two years, the car was meticulously rebuilt piece by piece to a condition worthy of the original specification.
Rather incredibly, this included the PEUGEOT Mi16 engine with factory fuel injection, an ITG intake kit, 4-2-1 stainless steel exhaust manifold and Mongoose stainless steel exhaust. Handling was improved with new brakes, with stainless steel braided flexi-hoses for better feel and performance, while Bilstein shock absorbers and springs have brought the original models legendary handling back to life. A new rear beam was also fitted at standard ride height and occupants sit in fully refurbished and reupholstered seats. The entire car is finished in its original Sorrento Green paintwork with all parts either being restored or replaced with original parts direct from PEUGEOT. And what an absolutely stunning job these apprentices have done over the last couple of years.
The project was recently completed with apprentice Dan Cook being personally involved with the build. Peugeot have explained to MotorMartin that he was a real driving force in the project, engaged with not only repairing and sourcing parts for the project but offering his own time in the evenings while on training. His passion for the car motivated not only the staff but the other apprentices to get involved.
Unsurprisingly for such a skilled and dedicated individual, Dan went on to win the PEUGEOT Apprentice of the Year competition in 2015 and recently became the youngest qualified Master Technician in the PEUGEOT network. However, Dan still regularly visits the Academy and speaks about his experience of the build.
With this particular Peugeot GTi being finished to such a high standard, it’s easy to understand why the finished car has remained popular since completion, attracting the interest of new apprentices joining the programme, turning the heads of members of the public and even gaining the interest of senior managers and Dealer Principals, who all reminisce of the days when this now historic model was new. Indeed, you can follow MotorMartin’s companion piece to this story by clicking here, which takes a more personal view of the late eighties most popular hot hatches, of which the Peugeot 205 GTi was up there as one of the very best.
Jason Giblett, Apprentice Programme Manager, informed MotorMartin that; “The 205 GTi is an important car in the rich history of PEUGEOT. Every apprentice knew this when working on the car and although the model has fun and performance in its DNA, the apprentices had a real challenge bringing one of the best driver’s cars back to perfect condition. Having driven the car, I have to say this isn’t just one of the best 205 GTis I’ve driven, it is one of the best cars I have driven! My congratulations go to all involved, I can’t wait to see what the next apprentices will create, but they have a very tough act to follow.”
Jason Giblett would appear to have hit the nail on the head here when he says that it’s not just the best 205 GTi he’s driven, but one of the best cars full stop.
Where will you go?