The After Work Drive: Why Simple Cars Are Best

Last week, I had one of the best after-work drives of my life.

For the past two months, the UK temperature gauge has been reading a solid 25°C+ (77°F+) pretty much non-stop. To some, this is perfect drinking and BBQ weather. To Paddy and Jordan, who hate the heat, this is a living nightmare. I absolutely love the long hot summer days we’re having, but whilst many people were going for afternoon beers on a Thursday, I headed to Rockingham Speedway’s Summer Social for a two-hour track session with some friends.

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-03

The plan was to get some track time in my M3 CSL before we head to the Nordschleife in three weeks, and see what parts, if any, need replacing. I bought the BMW off tech editor Ryan Stewart’s neighbour about two months ago, so it only seemed right to meet Ry along the way and get him to lay down some laps at Rockingham.

This year has been fairly exciting from a car point of view as I’ve managed to buy two of my dream cars: the aforementioned CSL and also the Peugeot 106 Rallye you see here. You can keep your supercars, if I could only have one ‘weekend’ car, it would be the Rallye.

Last year I shared a story about a 106 Rallye replica on Speedhunters. The owner was cool and his approach to the build was inspiring. The comments showed that you guys, much like me, could not care less about supercar vloggers swinging their dicks around. I love Speedhunters and the attitude of the people that frequent this weird and wonderful community!

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-08
2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-19

Anyway, the chat I had with the Rallye rep owner at Castle Combe sparked my search for an S2 Rallye. I wanted to find a car that didn’t have any of the optional extras selected that took away from the simple ethos the Rallye had in its DNA, so it had to be a white, non-sunroof car, with no power assisted steering, and as close to standard as possible. Eventually, in April this car came up for sale just 30 miles from my house.

I took a look at it and despite having 11 owners it seemed OK. The speedometer had 106,000 miles on it, so it was meant to be. A whole host of new parts, one gearbox rebuild, a diff, Bilstein suspension, Toyo Proxes R888R tyres, a bunch of service parts, plus 42 hours of welding later and it’s pretty much perfect. Not a lot then! My advice when buying a French car? Simply spend more time looking underneath it than I did when I bought this one.

After a bunch of 106s, Saxos and a 205 GTi when I was a kid, I should have learnt my lesson by now. Clearly not.

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-06

So why do I love this piece of French tat so much? With just over 100hp it’s not going to win you any Top Trump power awards. But forget the 0-60mph time of around 8-seconds-ish for a moment. And don’t worry about the S2 Rallye’s claimed 119bhp per tonne, which is just a bit better than a 2005 4.4-litre V8 Range Rover. Forget tech specs and numbers; driving cars like this one doesn’t have a lot to do with science, it’s about how they make you feel.

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-18

The only thing I can get a bit scientific about is weight: the Rallye tips the scales at around 890kgs (1,962lbs), which you definitely notice. Lightweight cars are usually fun and this basic French hatch is potentially even lighter due to its rusty past. I junked the spare rear wheel that usually hangs under the rear boot floor, too. Alas, I’ve eaten a few pizzas this summer, so the saving is balanced out by my high-carb diet.

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-17

There’s no driver assistance like ABS, the stupid pedal box is so close together that anything above a size 10 is problematic, and without power steering you really have to wrestle the car about. This is especially noticeable when going into the slower turns at Rockingham, and highlighted by the slightly larger than stock 185/60R14 Toyo rubber.

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-16

Uncomplicated cars like the Rallye are cheap and easy to maintain; the 1.6-litre motor is fuel efficient and it makes me smile every time I drive it. Of course, I could go further, strip the little Peugeot’s guts right out and get a 16-valve motor built that would rev to 9,000rpm and make 200+hp, but I really like the car as it is. Right now, it has a good balance of power and handling, and I love it.

Simple cars are the best cars because you can feel a lot of what’s going on. Locking a rear wheel whilst trail braking, the diff working and the sweat pouring down the back of your neck because it’s 32 degrees Celsius and you’ve got no air con. No doubt Dino will tell me to shut-up and stop complaining because its 185% humidity in Japan right now, but you get the idea.

2018 After Work Drive Speedhunters by Ryan Stewart-10

I posted a photo of my 106 Rallye on Instagram the other day and someone reminded me that simple cars are best because ten-tenths is more fun than four-tenths. I could have just typed that in the first paragraph and wrapped this whole story up, because that comment nails it.

Would I like to have the keys to some mad Ferrari Scuderia? Absolutely. Would it be more fun than my 106 Rallye for a quick after-work drive around Rockingham with my friends?

Not a chance.

Ben Chandler
Instagram: ben_scenemedia
ben@speedhunters.com

Photos by Ryan Stewart
Instagram: 7.nth

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62 comments

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1

Now I know what my first car is going to be !

Author2

It was my second car! And then many cars later I’m back in the driver’s seat. Do it!

3

25C considered hot? Come to central cali, where it hits 105F on a normal summer day (40.5C for you international weirdos). hehe.

And am I crazy for something both simple and complex at the same time? Like I like simple, but like I still like power steering, power windows/sunroof, A/C, a sound system, but like I can do without things like ABS, TC, fancy "sport" modes, or even bigger brakes/wheels and whatnot?

Author4

The long hot summer we have had here in the UK, with very little rain is unusual. I hear you on the a/c. I like some creature comforts. And on a long journey these make a difference. I’ll be taking the CSL with it’s air con to the Nürburgring in a few weeks and the 106 will stay in London!

5
ILikeOwlsAndSloths

Minus the power steering, MR2 AW11 is the car for you.

6
OriginalCreamster

Aside from the valid comments about humidity another thing I've heard from people in the UK particularly is that they're just not set up for any sort of heat - no aircon, poor ventilation etc.
As someone from straya I know heat as well (not that this is a competition) but I sure as hell wouldn't be out sunning myself on 14 degree days like the bloody poms do. Basically I'm sure they'd all laugh at the way we handle the cold so it goes both ways

Author7

We’re not really set-up for anything: snow, a bit too much rain, when it’s a bit windy. And, like Jordan says, we love to complain!

8

We also LOVE to complain, and the weather is the best topic to complain about. Besides, 14°C weather is a shorts and t-shirt day.

9

>40.5C
Humidity matters. In high humidity environment 25 degrees (international, not your local Liberian/USA) make some hell.
>international weirdos
Lolwut. Did you mean "Murican/Liberian wierdos"?

10

You're right with humidity. I've done 45°c in a desert and felt baking but ok and 30°c here in Auckland NZ with high humidity making it unbearable. That said I'm most happy on a mountain in a t shirt.

11
Pádraig MacCraith

It's a weird heat over here, as someone who spent most of last year in North America.

It's basically Florida kind of hot, which is the worst kind.

12

Well said sir ! French Tat Hatches have got it going on.....my 309 GTI pushes anything in and out of the corners on Track !

Author13

I love 309GTIs! I’d love to see some photos.

14

U Tube 309 Track Battle

15

For some reason, I have an affinity for old Peugeots like from the '80s and '90s like the 405 Mi16 or the 205 GTi. Man, I just miss those old days where it was just simple.

Author16

I’d love a 205 GTI project next year. 405 Mi16 or a T16 is on the list when I don’t live in London and have plenty of storage.

17

Slow car fast > fast car slow.

Author18

Also nailed it and could have just said that and saved writing 1,000 words! Ha.

19

HELL YES. I LOOOOVE THIS.

Spent a ton of time as a kid in 505 GTi's/GTi Estates and a 306 Gti. 106 Rallye is one of my favourite cars.

Author20

My auntie had a white 309 GTI. Absolutely loved that thing.

21
Michael Rinaldi

When you rock an 11-previous-owner car "and everything seemed to be OK" ...baller status.

Author22

So many Rallye models are either rotten or have been butchered. A lot of the others are just not for sale. There’s only a couple of hundred S2 models left on the road, so I had to take what I could get. Turns out the 11 owners was the least of the problems!

23

My first real car was a Mk.III Volkswagen Golf. 2.Slow, 5-speed, 115 horsepower. I put some decent coilovers on it, plus Dunlop Direzza Star Specs, chunky sways, and a few cheap and simple go-fast parts. Crank windows, no sunroof, no ABS. It was a hoopty, but my god was if a fun hoopty. Incredibly neutral unless you poked it with a stick(19 year old me was smart- invest in corner balancing and a good alignment).

These days I drive a 944S. Sure, in the pantheon of sports cars it IS a simple thing. 190 horsepower from a big 2.5L four, Golf and Beetle-derived suspension, and so on. As much as I love it there are days where I really miss my ersatz-hot hatch and all of the technically-legal hooliganism it encouraged.

Author24

Sounds like a cool car. I’ve just driven 200 miles to Wales in a new Golf R with 300hp, climate control, adaptive cruise and all the creature comforts. It was 23 degrees when I left London and it’s wet as hell in Wales. When it dries out here I am sure I’ll miss the 106 immediately.

25
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Was the number plate intentional? LOL!

Author26

Yes! I bought it from Ryan. He used to run it on his Frozen Edition, e92 M3. It suits the car because, well... it’s a genuine piece of French tat!

27

I actually do enjoy the simple cars. Used to be into turbo builds (I still enjoy them mind you) but I just have a thing for pushing the slow simple cars to their limits. I found myself to be a better driver and hopefully I'll get into autocross here soon to get better at driving. My project car, a 97 VW Jetta, has the 2.slow in it but I enjoy driving the slow naturally aspirated engine to it's limits in my town's back roads. Great article about the simple cars. I enjoyed that read. Thank you.

Author28

Glad you enjoyed it. Keep it simple!

29
Max @ghettoporsche

YES!!!
Car people should really start to realise, that you don't need a fancy 500 horsepower "build not bought" car to have fun.
You need that for social media stunts.
Buy something like this 106, Saxo or even an 318ti or 318is etc etc and start to have fun...

Author30

I see guys driving the wheels off e36 M3s at the Nürburgring and they seem to be having way more fun than the guys in way more exotic metal.

31
Max @ghettoporsche

Yeah but most of these guys must have bought their e36 M3s before they became "collector's cars" *sigh*
328i's are coming up in prices too...
#keepracingcheap

32

Wasn’t that plate on a blue E92?

The best part with simpler cars is that you need to (and can!) squeeze everything out of them to make progress. And you don’t fear things going wrong too much as it would not cost an arm and a leg straighten things back up.
The French in the 80/90s really could do things right: R5 Alpine / Turbo 2, Clio Williams, 106 Rallye, 205/206/306/309 GTI, 405 MI16 / T16, Saxo VTS, ZX Vulcane...

Author33

Good spot. Yes the plate was on Ryan’s e92, albeit the car is frozen black. Ry was driving the CSL ‘chase’ car whilst filming the Rallye. I use the term ‘chase’ loosely since he went past me after the last corner of Rockingham and was never to be seen again!

34

I do love me some small 'French tat' as you put it. For me personally it's small, sporty stuff like this that really sparked my interest in cars as a child (weirdly enough). One of the neigbours had a yellow 106 procar back in the day and I'd used to see a blue 106 rallye putter around school on a regular basis. I've been searching on and off for a decent 106 rallye for a few years now, as it's one of my dream cars as well. Sadly decent examples are few and far between nowadays, and most of them have been converted to track day or rally toys around these parts. So I'll stick to my other French tat for now (Renault Twingo RS for fast B road and occasional track use and a Twingo GT for daily affairs). One day though, one day .... I'd be nice to see more of this kind of car on speedhunters. I do love to see the unobtanium featured as much as the next guy, but a healthy dose of the real world is a nice change of pace I think.

Author35

I think Speedhunters does a good job of keeping it real. Maybe we need some Twingo RS’s in the site!

36

Oh, there's plenty of variety on the site for sure! I guess one always wants to see more of what they're really into :-). I don't know if Twingo RS's are what Speedhunters needs per sé, but it would be cool though! More French tat in general (Citroens, Peugeots, Renaults, ...) would be interesting to see. By the way, keep on enjoying the 106 man! Even though you've had to put in quite some work so set it straight it's a nice little car to pick up. Sadly I'm not from the UK, I'd love to try and give it the chase out on track with my RS! Could be a nice little skirmish between the small hatches.

37

Preach brother!! Had some of the most enjoyable, fun and smile inducing moments in my old 106. 1097cc of fire breathing fury pumping out 62 BHP, it saw backroad after backroad, done a track day and passed an Evo9 (admittedly heading fairly rapidly for the gravel trap) aswell as being the most craic I've had in a daily. I've grown sensible now and bought a Diesel 207.........until about 6 weeks ago a Peugeot 306 Rallye landed on the driveway. Oh boy is that a good time!!

Author38

I had a 1.1-litre 106 for a couple of months and had loads of fun in it. I’d love a 306 Rallye one day, too. Enjoy!

39

Would I like to have the keys to some mad Ferrari Scuderia? Absolutely. Would it be more fun than my 106 Rallye for a quick after-work drive around Rockingham with my friends?


Definitely!!! :P :D

Author40

Haha. If you’ve driven any Scuderia, you’ll know they are proper fun. But I don’t think I’d be driving it at ten tenths around Rockingham. I’ve still got a lot to learn.

41

I know what are you talking about, I had a TU5 206 in early 2000s! same engine as 106 rally I think. ;)

42

Absolutely love it. Small old French hot hatches are definitely the way forwards. And not just because I own two (and a half).

Author43

Not biased at all, then? One day cars will drive themselves and we will celebrate the days of no PAS, no ABS and French tat even more!

44

Biased? Moi? Non monsieur! Haha well my other project is all-Japanese so I think I've got some balance in there, honest guv! Reading this again makes me want to go for a drive. Not the best idea today though, still got plenty of alcohol in my system from yesterday...

45

Reminds me of the days when I had an AX GT. Fragile as f**k, but Christ on a bike it was quick when it went!

Only had minimal upgrades, air filter and S/S pipes, and the bonnet had to be left half open when it was hot out. It used to eat yobs in their Corsas for breakfast, and still remains the only car I've had off the clock!!!

Glory days, if for only 50% of them!

Author46

AX GTs were brilliant. My friend Alex had an AX GTI that we used to drive around the country lanes. I’d have one in a heartbeat l.

47

Me too, although the wife might have something to say about it!!! : D

48

As a fellow auto journalist, I completely agree! My daily is an 86 Toyota MR2, rusty and bought for $300 Canadian. I love mid engine cars, raced and rallied them, and should have been over the moon to be driving the Duffy Lake pass (one of the best roads in Western Canada) in a brand new Porsche Cayman GTS... however, all I could think about while winding through the mountains was... "how much more fun I would have been having in my $300 AW11!"

There is a reason the majority of auto journalists drive old cars... and its not just because we are poor.

Author49

Old gold!

50

...whilst many people were going for afternoon beers on a Thursday...


Thursday afternoon beers? Don't they have jobs?
And I agree with you about simple cars; onr of my favourite drives is my mother's 1.3L Mazda Demio. All of 80 hp, 5 speed manual, tiny 165 section tyres and drum brakes in the back...getting up to speed and trying to keep up speed is an absolute hoot. But i cannot agree that it would be more fun than something faster, a lesson I learned driving fast cars. Slow car fast is fun but fast car fast is downright thrilling.

Author51

Drive down any street in central London after work on a sunny day and the pubs are overflowing with people getting the beers in. It’s relentless. All good fun when you’re in the mood. Much like low power cars the trick with drinking is the conservation of momentum... not sure I’ve got that talent nailed though!

52
tofufoxsmidnightexpresstofu @instagram

Yeah simple cars are cool, why i drive one, less to go wrong, big huge engine bay to work on things. Simple small parts that don't cost alot of overhead. not alot of electronics to go wrong, lighter curb weight i know mine pushes under 2335 us pounds and under 2500 us pounds with me in it. sure the HP isnt alot but if you throw in boost or a turbo charger the power to weight will rival a modern mid-range sports car. some coilovers thicker sway-bars and a tower brace on the front and rear will make it handle tighter in the corners then a sports car. see its not about top end to the red power. sometimes its about having fun and thats what makes momentum cars the most challenging. likw 250 hp in a 1,962lbs would be sufficent to do proper motoring, 50 more HP would be sufficient. anything thats a gain, helps.

Author53

KIS: Keep It Simple!

54

My fun little toy. No power nothing and has around 40hp at max. Ten tenths all day every day.

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Author55

Preach brother

56

Momentum car this was, drove it like that for around 7 years. I live at the foothills of a place called mettupalayam in India where I have access to one of the twistiest fun roads in this part of the country so almost every weekend going up and driving down the hill is my way of having fun. It's such a joy. It takes a bit of time to get up but coming down is another scenario. It weighs roughly under 600kg and has no power steering, non assisted brakes , 4 gears and 40hp. I slotted the rotors to help with the fade and it's much fun.

57

This cars made men out of boys because they were just that. Too fast.
But let me share atrue story with you.
In November, i decided to buy a second car for the family but my budget was veeeery low. And since I have a thing about old Nissans and Datsuns, I bought a Nissan Cherry n13 1,0 lt for 500 Euros, in Terrible condition. The idea was to fix it and upgraded to be a daily driver, as mechanical parts are easy to find here. Also this is a car that was assembled in the last factory we had in this country.
The first thing to do was to change the motor, although, it turned out that its own motor just needed an overhaul. Anyway looking around with the car sitting in the garage, i found by accident an 1.6 same series engine in very good condition. It was also easy to find a 5 gear speed manual and the swap took place. Slowly and considering the cost to be maintained as low as possible, I changed the dampers with new ones, and I sticked with the same rims and tyres for comfort (13 inch with 175/70 tyres).
Of course, cleaning and fixing the seats was a must. And here it comes: As soon as I took it on the road the car was transformed!
Even though the numbers are not imprerssive, ( only 84 hp according to internet), the small weight of the car and the better handling makes it so fun to drive and so fast around corners that it makes you think:
What if I upgrade the suspension and tyres?
What is I bought something more expensive but couldn't afford to fix it
What should I do next?
With less than a 1000 eyros I put a smile on my face every week, and the problem is that I should stop wrecking the tyres.
So, yes, when you want a fun car seek for something simple. No air-con can put a smile on your face around the track, or uphill.
And as long as you can, seek for older cars for that purpose.

Author58

Good suspension and tyres on cars like these make a world of difference. Enjoy your simple and cheap motoring.

59

no eletronics, only 16v and some bits from other bigger nissan

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60

This is why I come to this website.
I always loved 106 rallye s2s, I've been searching for one for a long time.
Ended up buying a 16v saxo, no abs, no air conditioning, it's my only car
Upgraded suspension, airbox and exhaust, on mountain roads it's a blast!

61

I'm quiet weirded out by the fact that you have a Mk1 dashboard on a Mk2 106. UK only?

Btw, the Rallye is definitely the next car on my bucketlist, already familiar with that chassis actually having a Saxo VTS hehe.

62

Here in America, we're blessed to even have a 25-degree day during the summer.

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