Looking back on the last couple of decade’s worth of people modifying cars, it’s always interesting to reflect on how trends change. In Autosalon’s hey-day it was all about adding as many aftermarket parts to your car; hell, you couldn’t clock Need For Speed: Underground without making your car look like a Transformer. However, in recent years I think most of us agree that being different, and opting for a cleaner, more tasteful, and less accessorised look has become the name of most enthusiast’s game.
Robert Wengert’s ’91 Peugot 205 GTI is a fantastic example of both different and clean. Having purchased the car 8 years ago, the Pug was originally purchased based on its success in Group B rallying (Rob discovered later that the only components the Rally T16 and an ordinary 205 shared were the A-Pillar and the Windscreen, but that’s irrelevant now..!). It wasn’t an easy search, as 205’s do not come up for sale often and it’s especially difficult to find an example that hasn’t been abused. When this one entered the market though, Rob jumped on it. Being a UK import, it meant it came without Power Steering and Air Conditioning to begin with; useless attributes which only provided additional weight and headaches if they broke.
Now is probably a good time to provide a bit of insight on modifying a Peugot 205 GTI. As one could observe, they’re not exactly as common or popular as your average Silvia, or Civic, be it a track car or otherwise. Whilst this isn’t a downside in itself, it does mean that parts, aftermarket or factory, aren’t exactly easy to find, nor are they a dime a dozen. A lot of the parts in this car have been slowly sourced over years of waiting and talking to the right people when they pop up, whilst some of the smaller components that your average Joe can pop down to Repco for have been acquired from eBay, which can be an expensive process. The result is a car that consists of a selection of well-chosen gear, which complement the ‘OEM+’ theme of the Peugot.
As anyone that’s modifying a car for some degree of track use should, Rob focused first on upgrading the brakes and suspension. All of these parts had to be sourced off donor cars and wrecks (Rob’s purchased 3 different donor parts vehicles whilst owning this car!), as he simply could not find parts off the shelf in New Zealand. Swapping out arms and torsion components for bigger ones off a 309 GTi and then filling them with polyurethane bushes complimented the Yellowspeed coil-overs and allowed for a stronger and more stable ride, while a 306 GTi6 rear ARB was cut down and resplined to fit its 309 equivalent beam. The master cylinder was upgraded to compliment the Wilwood 4-pot stoppers.
Being somewhat content for now with the suspension and stopping abilities of the car, Rob shifted focus to the heart of the beast. While the car was blessed with the larger 1900cc donk to begin with, what it wasn’t blessed with was the right number of valves. The motor was strong, but plans were on the table for a pretty serious build further down the track and it made sense to begin with a better base. Luckily, Rob had the foresight for this and had purchased a Citroen BX as a donor car, which was fitted with a number of goodies, none the least an Mi16 engine and box. Being a similar motor, yet with 16 valves and a number of other subtle differences, there was an abundance of information on the internet about the swap and Rob set about the task of switching hearts.
Alas, this wasn’t destined to be an overnight task. Although not exactly having to shoehorn the motor in (slight alterations to the radiator and manifolds did take place to ensure clearance, however), it ended up being just over three years between removing the motor from the Citroen and installing it into the GTI, which can be attributed to a number of reasons. Firstly, the goal was always to build the motor up, and there was a lot of standby time whilst parts were acquired. The cams are an excellent example; there are just six pairs of cams worldwide, custom made back in the day for 405 BTCC touring cars, and it was some time before Rob managed to get his hands on a set. Secondly, a knack for being a little too anal with certain things most certainly prolonged the process. Everything had to be strip cleaned, ordered and colour coded, with minor details needing to be put in place; every hose clamp had to be polished and installed to face the same way, even!
Finally, the swap, in conjunction with an LSD gearbox, was completed, and the result of having a meticulous owner can be seen in an engine bay that looks the part, as I’m sure most would agree. Following the install, the Pug was taken to Hampton Downs for its maiden voyage, where the result of a well-rounded package was seen when the car was put to the test. Unfortunately, the day ended early as the big sweeper claimed a big end bearing due to lack of oil starvation; something Rob wasn’t going to let happen again. “The engines are known for oil surge but I didn’t know they were that bad!” Rob recalls. “That’s when I did the bigger oil cooler, accusump, trap door baffles and a high pressure oil pump.”
Following an upgrade to the system along with new internals, Rob took the car on a South Island tour with Playday on Track. This consisted of 4 track days over a week at each of the tracks in the South Island – Levels, Teretonga, Ruapuna and Highlands. With the oil problem remedied, the car held up well and proved to be as reliable as anything else out there. Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing much of the Pug over the next few months as its owner is on his OE, and the car has been put into storage. That doesn’t mean it won’t be getting any attention, as being overseas means Rob is able to source the next set of parts (throttlebodies, engine management) when the opportunity comes available, at a more reasonable price, and when he gets back the car will be levelling up big-time. We can’t wait!
1991 Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9
– Mostly OEM (why change it – Rob)
– “Automatic” bonnet
– Front lip off a Renault Laguna
– Custom one off carbon boot lip spoiler
– De-badged front grill
– Painted Wing Mirrors
– Mostly standard again
– Red seat belts from a 106 GTI
– All the red carpet and seat trims door cards, etc, are factory
– YellowSpeed adjustable coil overs
– Polyurethane Bushes throughout
– Front arms and rear “torsion beam” are from a 309 GTI (20mm wider)
– 306 GTI6 rear ARB cut down and re splined to fit the 309 beam
– Willwood 4 pots up front with custom brackets
– Rear standard
– Bigger Brake master cylinder from a 306 gti6
Engine / Drivetrain
– 1.9 16v MI16 motor from a Citroen BX 16V
– Fully rebuilt
– Baker BM adjustable cam pulleys
– Balanced and lightened bottom end, custom light fly wheel, one piece alloy crank pulley
– 283 degree cams
– Head skimmed to obtain 11.5/1 compression
– OEM diesel spec clutch
– Quaife lsd
– Painted, powder coated and gold’ed
– Baker BM silicone hose kit and short intake hose (one of the few of the shelf things you could buy from the uk, for this conversion)
– Noisy Exhaust
– Custom Strut Brace
– Baker BM hard engine mounts
– Engine management and intake factory (for now)
– 1.5l Accusump mounted under the boot with electronic pressure switch set up and 16-row front mount (bro) oil cooler
– Home-made trap door sump baffles (using Cosworth rubber flaps) braised into a deeper tin sump off a Citroen ZX diesel, and custom extended pick-up
Words: Damian Wijnhoud
Photos: Robert Wengert