Project Cars: Knowing When To Stop

I can’t really say that my 106 Rallye is a worthy addition to the Speedhunters Garage.

Firstly, I’m about to talk about why it’s important to know when to stop messing about with a car, so that pretty much renders the 106 useless as a project.

And secondly, despite the Peugeot popping up on the site over the past year or so, quite typically, I haven’t taken a great deal of photos during the work/light restoration. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) I should not be allowed near tools, therefore, I tend to drop cars off at my favourite specialist and then quickly get out of their workshop before anyone shouts at me. 2) When I do take pictures, I lose them. Basically, I’m an idiot.

I definitely don’t know much about engineering or spanners, but what I definitely do know is this: I’m at a point with this project where I really should stop.


Why? Well, although it looks fairly stock, there’s actually a few choice components like the Quaife diff, BILSTEIN suspension, Toyo Proxes R888R tyres and the Personal Grinta suede wheel that, for me, make the car great fun to drive. If you’re interested in the rusty pain of French car ownership, I went into a little more detail in a previous story.

Anyway, right now everything works and I feel like I’m at a tipping point of taking it too far and messing all this keep-it-simple fun right up. Before you can say ‘lost in the sauce’, a roll cage, Recaro SPG seats and harnesses that ensure the car’s way safer for the occasional track day, would quite quickly make the whole experience a complete nonsense for that drive to the shops on Sunday mornings.

But here I am, still dreaming about what to do next…


I still have thoughts of a 16-valve motor, throttle bodies and an exhaust manifold made of unobtanium. But at this current moment, my bank balance is in recovery mode after buying a Satchell Engineering shifter for £285, only to then discover that the little Peugeot’s gearbox needed a quick rebuild.


Pug1Off were kind enough to accommodate me before the workshop was up and running one morning, and during this time I was able to shoot a few photos (and the video above) of the gearbox repair.


Does it shift better now? Shortly after Mark took these photos, I drove two hours north and stayed in a cheap B&B near Cadwell Park to find out. The next day saw some laps at the fast and winding circuit, and the Satchell SatchShift had me smiling from ear to ear.

After a major service, fresh brakes, the gearbox rebuild and various other bits, somehow the well-priced shifter turned into a bill of nearly £2,000. But it all seems worthwhile when everything works and feels so good.


Here’s the thing, though – I absolutely love how reliable the 106 is, and how cheap it has been to maintain. Consumables can cost less than a round of beers, nothing rattles, and it always works. So really, I should put the brakes on the OCD, quit meddling whilst I’m ahead, and just enjoy driving the silly little car.

The art of knowing when to stop with a project is not just important for me, it’s the difference between the outright love or hate I have for a car.


The thing is, when I hear the sweet sound of ITBs, I just don’t know if I can reign it in and not go mental. Is this a problem that we all have? If not, maybe I need to call a therapist and talk to them about my addiction…

Ben Chandler
Instagram: ben_scenemedia

Photography by Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni

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Ben honestly , ive done it all to mine, all the way from a standard car, it was a laugh for 10 mins, then a pain in the ass. i really wish i didnt crucify mine and it was like yours. 320hp turbo, 150hp 8v itbs, 16v hybrid jp4, its now very tame just back to a basic 16v, i am hoping to take the bastard cage out and buckets. and also refit bulkhead sound deadening .


Yes Luke! Hope you're well. Going back to the 'Keep It Simple', comment above, it's easy to know the right path for you, once you've had pretty much every engine set-up going. I think you're there, right? ha


Similar to life goals, car goals gets upgraded by time, you start with your simple car aiming for 10% of extra power, better braking and suspension, but each time you get used to the new modifications your aims grow higher until you turn it to an ideal hill climb monster or a rally looking car or a perfect drift machine, but similar to life goals, car goals return to be simple at the end of the cycle just like we love to settle in a small country house when we get old, we aim for that quiet, stock car... moral of the story, if you love your car as much as your wife and your not planning to leave it at your 40s then modify your car to any point you want but it s always worthy to keep a way back to stock


Love the anology, although not sure if you're telling me I should modify my wife? Haha


i m saying if the car is a keeper, don't do mad modifications, but your wife as my wife and all of us will engender some natural modifications haha


This is the kind of articles i love to read, the "k.i.s.s." projects. Everytime i see your articles poping up i know its going to be a good read, keep'em coming please!


As the former owner of a 205Gti and a 306Gti-6, yours must be the only hot Peugeot in history with no rattles!


Hahaha. I’ve just had a car audio shop add four sheets of Dynamat Extreme into the front doors, so that has pretty much sorted the rattles, but I don’t know for how long... maybe a few weeks. What do you think)


All new, hard to find rattles will doubtless appear. Regardless, though, it's a cracking little car. I'm very envious (and sad, as prices of old Peugeot hot hatches skyrocket ever higher).


Rest assured that you're certainly not alone! The sound of a sweetly tuned in-line four breathing in through a set of ITB's and exhaling through an Unobtainium exhaust has been the downfall of many a bank account!

It doesn't even have to be a 4-banger, many different engine types elicit a similarly addictive outcome!

#joyofmachine ?

Frenchie Sochaux

Use it. Park it. Leave it alone.

Know that next time it'll start on the button, get past the end of your street and back again without recovery AND you can buy the family xmas pressies without a payday-loan mugger knocking on your door in february.

I had a pair of 205 GTIs in the 90s. Spent ludicrous sums monthly (sometimes daily) on building the gruntiest 1.9 weekend warrior I could, along with the shiftiest of fast-shifting 'boxes and the stoppiest of anchors. Always trouble. Always in the garage. I hated the bastard by late afternoon on a sunday. However, get in my ratty, bone-stock 1.6 daily on monday and I was all smiles again. Moral? Keep it simple and keep the love... oh, and the 1.6 GTI could always pull the pants down of any 1.9 GTI. Fact.


I think a cage, seats and harnesses would be a great addition. Although, as you say that then takes away from the jump in and go for a drive ability of the car. As great as a 16v on throttle bodies is, I cant help but feel that it's a shame to do on a rallye, not that I am in any way, shape or form a purist.

Good to hear that the satchshift is as good as it looks, I've got one sitting for my 205 Rallye (French one with twin 40s) - thats more a project where I need to know where to start as opposed to where to stop!


I'd love to see photos of the 205 Rallye. Very cool cars.


Those tyres look larger than normal and are a close fit. They are 60 profile right? Do they usually have 50 profile?


That’s a good eye you have. The are 185/60x14 Toyo R888R. OEM sizes tyres for the S2 Rallye come in at 185/55x14. So the slight increase in aspect ratio adds to the chunk :)


It was that side profile shot as it just looks chunkier than usual. Amazing the difference a small change makes sometimes :)


I love it when someone puts a car together and I cannot work out what's been done to make it look a little bit better than standard. 100% the side profile gives it away. Got very luck that Toyo and a few other brands make a tyre that is a touch chunkier. Yokohama make a tyre too, but it's not e-marked anymore. Also, my bad - the OEM tyre was a 175/60x14. I am going to try a Dunlop DZ03G in 185/55x14 next, so that's why that size is stuck in my head.


These are the articles I love to read, they really speak to me and are so enjoyable. It's a fact that I am a simple man that likes simple things, and this is one of them. I think the only thing I would add is a bucket seat, but then obviously you get into harness and cage territory. I say stick a Corbeau Clubsport in and be done with it.

Great article again dude.


Haha. Thanks. KIS - Keep It Simple. That's always the best way.


Having a project car is fun but would it be a good first car?


I think every car becomes a bit of a project. As for your first car, that always ends up being the one you remember and have lots of fun with.


This is the point where you stop with the mods (for now) and just clean up the little things, the rough around the edges things.


The plan, over the winter, is to get the underside of the car looking really good. Simply restore all those parts underneath, whilst leaving the body with all the marks and those faded stickers.


Don't do anything to it for a year. Enjoy it, invest, if needed, in best brakes, best tyres, track days, driving tuition and a nice holiday. Then, after a year, see if you still want to do other modifications or not.


That's pretty much what I've been doing for the last year and I am stuggling not to fit ITBs!


Yea, I understand the strugle. Whatever you do, just keep the updates coming, these articles are the best, I love them, most of us can recognise ourselves in stories like this one. Great work!


I can’t really say that my 106 Rallye is a worthy addition to the Speedhunters Garage.

This is a ridiculous statement. Your 106 Rallye looks like a it would be a blast to drive.


Thanks, appreciate it. I'll check in regularly with some updates about track days and how the silly little thing is doing. Ha!


Bring back the car to its original ride height. Get rid of the standard silent blocks especially the one at the gearbox. Polyurethane all the way. Find a used crownwheel and pinion from a 1.3 Rallye (13/59). Or even better from a Citroen C4 1.4. And then just drive it.
I learned to drive with a white 106 exactly like yours. I had just the polyurethane bushes and a custom made suspension. It's a giant killer when the road isn't straight. And unlike modern cars, you have to know how to drive so as to go fast in it. And if you don't know it will teach you.


I love the ride height. TBH, I don't think I've owned many cars that have been stock, plus the slightly oversized tyres would foul the front bumper, if it didn't have a height adjustment. It is an interesting discussion, but I do feel like the Rallye needs to be lowered at least a little to look 'right'. Definitely a personal thing.

At the moment, I am really into stock wheels. I think this might be just because all of the cars that I own have really good looking OEM wheels.

For me, the gear ratios are perfect on my S2 box. The car has been fully polly bushed and there's a couple of uprated engine mounts, too. A few other things have been taken care of, like the Pug1Off modification to the rear brake bias valve that stops the rear wheels from locking on track.

Definitely hear you about giant killer, especially after taking it to the Nürburgring last year. Also had a 106 (and a 205) when I was a kid, and even had a Saxo for a while. I love this era of French hatchbacks! 100% these thing teach you the art of conserving momentum.


I have a Megane R26. I had, like every previous hoon box I've owned, an extended shopping list for the car before I even picked it up. I've built Meganes before and had a lot of fun, so like every previous hoon box, immediately wasted no time getting spanner happy with the current one. It was a rabbit hole - one thing kept leading to another and I found myself frustrated fixing and tinkering with things all the time and not driving it enough, and becoming more and more compromised for the daily commute. So one day after a mod didn't pan out the way I hoped, I impulsively pulled pretty much all the enhancements back out leaving in place the basic mods (intake, exhaust, engine mounts) and simply drove the crap out of it exactly the way it was - slightly flawed, room for improvement, but good enough for the occasional flog when I could squeeze one in (getting fewer and farther in between with adulthood...). It's been a year since I made that decision and I find myself in the weird position of wanting to do exactly no more than basic maintenance to keep the thing going. My bank account also greatly appreciates the restraint.


I am sure many other readers can tell a simialr story, thanks for sharing!


Yeah, so that "keep it simple" thing you mention... Where can I get some?


Oh wow, that's some impressive work. 100% get yourself checked out by your friendly automotive psychiatric nurse!


Breaking it down is the easy part


And that comment lost most of it's content...
Funny thing is, I were only going to replace the bearings when I ended up like this.

I tried that and it has to be contagious... My friend is currently doing an engine + drivetrain swap!! Haha


Cars and articles like this are truly the standouts of this site to me. Yeah the 1,000hp carbon bodied cars are cool but nothing beats a well sorted everyday car.


That's great to hear brother!


Do Not Worry Brother! you DO NOT need a therapist.
its all good we are all in the same page here ^_^ and we should never stop being on this book.


Car projects wouldn't, couldn't and shouldn't stop.
If the projects stop, it won't be called projects in the first place.


Ha. That's written by a man who lives by the mantra that a 'car is never finished'! Can't stop, won't stop?


Finally, a breeze of fresh air between all these high end, high budget builds! Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a 1000+Hp flames spitting, roll-caged, bucket seated, time attack or drift monster, but I feel like these simpler, more affordable cars are just as enjoyable, and quite paradoxically rarer.
Anyway, nice little car you have there, and it's nice to see french hot hatches getting some love here. I know they're not the most premium, or the most reliable or (subjectively) the prettiest car around, but there are defenitely some damn fine french FWD hot hatches. And yeah older ones tend to rust quicker than they start, but come on, automatic weight reduction bro!
I also love the fact that you want to keep it simple, and keep his patina. Somehow it tells a story, and there's definitely something enjoyable about a car that has some battle scars (well, in a certain extent at least :) ). No doubt it's a worthy addition to the Speedhunters garage! And after all, that's what Speedhunters is all about (in my mind at least), car culture in all its forms.


Thanks for sharing you thoughts. I feel similar in that the all of the mental stuff, can be just, well, a bit too insane to be relateable. What I really struggle to get excited about these days is Supercars. When I was younger they felt really special, but now, they tend to leave me a bit cold. I'd much rather see a nicely executed EG Civic or a E30 on the street, than the latest must-have Supercar. It's obviously a personal thing, but seeing someone's energy put into a classic hot hatch, 80s coupe, or such-like, and just enjoying it will always be cool in my eyes. That's why I'd rather watch Best Motoring International re-runs on YouTube, rather than a muppet YouTuber. Speedhunters is 100% about the car culture - and that's where you've nailed it. It's nice to hear from so many people who are passioante about the site.


Always had the same feeling about special cars like this. Few, simple, choice mods should be more than enough. But how do you stop?
I found a way, a really expensive one. If you love a car so much, then get two of them. Keep one lightly modded, and go balls to the wall with the other.


Also like the way you think. I did buy another Rallye, but then I thought I was going mad and sold it!


Don't go there. Stop. And sadly I speak this from experience. I invested a ton of money into an Opel Astra F Gsi c20xe - stand alone ECU, custom suspension. The thing also has a Quaife diff and final drive. Roll cage, wight reduction, cams etc. And I have absolutely had enough of it. It's fast, for sure, it can scare people in much newer and more expensive cars on the track. However I also drive it with a feeling that I pushed the old GM technology too far. It's difficult to drive this thing right now. Much more difficult than it was when I started. I can get really good results with it, that's for sure but it all feels very forced. It has speed, but there's no joy about driving it, just a feeling that I pushed the thing too far, and that this was never meant to go this fast. Worst thing is that I can't even get rid of it, as noone wants to buy a car that is so far from stock :P.


Life is short, get the itb's and if you don't like it you can always go back to stock. The only modifications I regret are the ones that weren't well thought out


Haha - I like the way you think


So true Ben, and all too familiar. Call it the tuner's dilemma. The optimist inside always wants more, but perhaps the trick is to find the sweet spot and as you said - know when to stop.

But ITBs would be SICK.


I can’t say that ITBs won’t happen, however, I’ve just fitted a KENWOOD system and I don’t want to make the car any louder! Good news, the 190 2.3-16 I’ve bought does have a slide throttle ITB kit available so maybe I can get my fix that way!


A very amusing article, and the comments definitely triggered a chain of thoughts:
There seem to be several principal reasons behind the "cannot stop modifying" phenomenon.

The single biggest reason is the wrong, usually utterly wrong choice of car to start with.
I am not saying 'wrong' as such, but wrong in relation to the following "coctail of conditions" :

- intended usage
- type / smoothness / layout of roads one usually drives onto 90% of the time
- personal temper / character.
- expectations from the car.

We usually choose a given car model based on reputation / merit / passion for a certain car - which all breed expectations. What leads us there, is usually our failing to realise that, what was good for one driver (eg. an influential car journo on a brilliant road), is not necessarily what we, as a driver, need and desire. Or what the roads we commute/exercise driving onto, demand.

2. Condition/History of our particular car example (this is especially valid for smaller, more fragile cars,
and especially the French hot-hatch and scorching-hot-hatch icons) :

More often than not, when we buy our 'dream car', its bodyshell might hide certain 'events' that might have twisted the susp.pick-up point 'planes', or the floorpan of that very example has been significantly tyred (especially some older PSA / Renault models...).
All of these issues are not easy to spot and identify, as the car can look and present very good, not letting the new owner know
he/she bought a tyred shell, with some previous "hard lives" / events.

This applies, to an extent, to the mechanicals too. If one does not have a solid benchmark to compare against, the car you decided to buy might appear and feel quick and good running, but it's not really the performance it should be having.

Both of the above, falsely lead us into the realm of "making it better for me" - which in turn, leads us to essentially two
types of modification purposes:

A) aimed at changing the way the car feels (suitability to our temper/character/road layout etc..) and/or

B) aimed at making it faster / more competitive objectively.

Now, A) and B) do not always work in harmony. Quite the contrary: the more mods you make in "A)" direction,
sometimes it makes the car harder to drive at 10/10, and hence slower. Sometimes these mods make it dead slower too.

The more you modify for "B)" purposes, it often happens the car loses its joyfulness and that elusive "get-up-and-go" feeling
from down below the Rev-range (many a Hot-Hatches principal appeal!), and generally, while it does become faster, it loses
the carefully-honed "drive-experience" it used to deliver in bone stock form.

It's a matter of not being able to have your cake and eating it.

Now, if you take a basic, non-high perf. Hatch, eg., there's usually nothing much to lose there. But, having in mind most of the
modified cars are based on already very nicely feeling, driver-oriented "GTI / Rallye / RS" etc. cars, even the slightest of mods
ruins the car's natural appeal that was so hard to achieve by the engineers that created it.

Again, the biggest mistake is not being to sensibly identify WHICH model of car suits your personal driving tastes/manners/tempers best.
We buy cars based on cred/ reputation/ hype/ trend, and then destroy them while thinking that we try to make it "better" (actually, better suited to our temper).

In cars, as well as in life, there's no replacement for knowing oneself really good. It is hard to realise, but vital. We simply
do fail epically in getting to know ourselves properly. Once this is sussed, such big mistakes in terms of selecting a wrong car
model (not to mention a wrong example of...) are easily avoided, but this comes only through experience.

To sum up my point: the more exquisite of a gem the car is right out of the showroom, the less one should dare to modify it.
Modifying is a blessing once you start modding a very basic, A-to-B, run-of-the-mill model. As, in that case,
it is actually IMPROVING it. In most other instances, it's actually ruining what is, stock, a pure gem.

And if you don't find that "gem" amusing, it's because you selected the wrong car for the wrong reason.
Better sell it and search for your driving "soulmate".

Al Pinaweiss


Wow Al, you’ve really thought this through. Can I suggest that we just own more than one car. I think you need about four cars in the garage. For me it looks like this: 1. The daily - which is a wagon/estate of some sort. 2. The low power/high fun/cheap to maintain car. 3.
A fast track car and the Porsche GT3 is perfect for this. I’ll have a gen II 996 please. 4. A wildcard. Today that would be a Mercedes 500e. But this does tend to alternate a bit!


So, having grown up with these cars all my life I never really gave them that much attention. Now I have moved Stateside, I'd kill to have one of these and go canyon carving.

Also ITB's sound amazing.


Agreed Dave - you don’t appreciate this stuff until it’s not around you. It’s very odd to see these sort of cars being driven in London, too. I’m too far into this car money wise to ever sell it, so if I ever move abroad I’ll want to eventually take it with me. Even if that meant waiting a few years for the 25-year rule. Maybe you can get one in the future mate?


THe whole simplicity thing is something i should have learnt from. My rallye went through various phases over the years and has now been reshalled into a base model, fitted with a maxi bodykit, wide track suspension and a turbo conversion. i see things like this and wonder if i should have kept mine somewhere near standard or should i buy a more basic one as a daily.

However having recently driven an almost standard one recently i have realised that the seats are too high, the steering wheel is too big and the brakes are as bad as they always were. A cammed 16v rallye with some different front seats is probably as far as i would recommend going unless you are building one specifically to see what you can build


Here I am, sitting in my ITBd, Satchshifted, 16V-swapped S1 Rallye, wishing you wrote this earlier.


Haha Mark! I will take your advice, then.