It’s uni­ver­sally adored and in­creas­ingly tricky to find in good con­di­tion, but is it re­ally worth im­port­ing a Peu­geot 205 GTI? Time to in­ves­ti­gate

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - Theo Ford- Sagers

Many ex­am­ples of Peu­geot’s epic 205 GTI (and its rag-top CTI equiv­a­lent) have murky his­to­ries, even if some are now be­ing treated to top-notch UK restora­tions. Find­ing an un­mo­lested and rust-free one that hasn’t been thrashed within an inch of its life is in­creas­ingly hard here.

You’ll find them in de­cent num­bers scat­tered across the con­ti­nent, but here’s the thing – our anal­y­sis re­veals that, in most cases, there’s not enough dif­fer­ence in price or con­di­tion com­pared to UK mod­els to jus­tify the cost and has­sle of im­port­ing. Not only that, but con­ver­sion to right-hand drive is too costly to be vi­able, and left-hook­ers aren’t al­ways easy to sell on in the UK.

But if you don’t mind left-hand drive, Ja­pan of­fers a so­lu­tion. Its agree­able cli­mate and the fact that its cars en­joy ruth­less main­te­nance regimes mean that some stun­ning cars can be found there.

‘ We buy ev­ery 205 GTI 1.9 that’s worth buy­ing in Ja­pan, but that’s only one or two a year as they’re very rare,’ says Miguel Varella of New Era Im­ports (02071 933979,­eraim­, which has a base in Es­sex and cur­rently has an ex­cep­tional, lim­ited-edi­tion Sor­rento Green car for sale.

Most GTIs im­ported from Ja­pan are left-hand drive, be­cause that car­ries a cer­tain ku­dos with pres­tige ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing sports cars and A-list GTIs such as the Pug.

But buyer be­ware – nav­i­gat­ing Ja­panese doc­u­men­ta­tion is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble un­less you’ve got the lingo, so do work with a UK spe­cial­ist such as Miguel.

You may also get lucky by search­ing for ex-Ja­pan im­ports in other dry cli­mates such as Aus­tralia, where there’s one tidy, right-hand-drive CTI for sale as we go to press. But if you’re im­port­ing from out­side the EU, the age of the ve­hi­cle will af­fect the tax you pay in the UK; ve­hi­cles more than 30 years old ben­e­fit from a VAT rate of just five per cent.

But there is a third way. Why not con­sider a Euro­pean-spec 205 Ral­lye in­stead? This feisty ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial, with its thrashy, nor­mally as­pi­rated 1.3-litre en­gine and stripped in­te­rior, gives a much naugh­tier drive than the wa­tered­down ver­sion that made it to the UK. Just a thought!

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