PEUGEOT 205 GTI/CTI
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
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, www.neweraimports.com), 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!