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…
Photography by Mark Riccioni
Track Photography by markleesphoto.co.uk
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
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!
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!
Those tyres look larger than normal and are a close fit. They are 60 profile right? Do they usually have 50 profile?
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.
Having a project car is fun but would it be a good first car?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Car projects wouldn't, couldn't and shouldn't stop.
If the projects stop, it won't be called projects in the first place.
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.
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.
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
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".
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.
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 .