The Peugeot 205 Rallye is a brilliant little car, but with UK models lacking power it was the perfect excuse to make this one a bit more special.
A drive of the awesome Peugeot 205 T16 was enough to inspire Mike to find a 205 of his own, but rather than the rare mid-engined car it would be a Rallye model. This UK-spec supermini managed 75bhp from its 1.4-litre engine, but the original version sold in Europe made a healthier 103bhp, so the plan was obvious…
Bought for just £2850, the racy French supermini clearly needed work with items such as the front bumper and headlights missing completely, and it was in Mike’s favourite colour of yellow. Or mustard as he preferred to call it! Still, with Elvis underwhelmed by the performance it was time for the engine to get some major attention.
Once it had been removed and stripped down the ace mechanic paid a visit to Midland Balancing Services where he set about getting the crankshaft perfectly balanced. It was a careful process that involved measuring, adjustment and more measuring to get things just right.
It would be a perfect match to the new pistons that Mike was having made by a company called Omega Pistons. It was a fascinating process to watch, and with an increase in compression ratio the little 205 was on its way to more power. And at just £400 for the set it was a bit of a bargain, too.
Back at the workshop the Rallye had returned from the paint shop and had new bumpers, but Elvis wasn’t finished with the engine yet. A performance camshaft and porting and polishing of the cylinder head would further boost the power output, but some clever work on the fuel system would be the icing on the cake.
The single carburettor was ditched and in its place was going to be a throttle body set-up, a second-hand system that had come from a Suzuki motorcycle. It was cheap at just £125 but fitting it involved plenty of modifications, including a new high-pressure fuel pump, a swirl pot and a fuel pressure regulator. And with that lot installed and the engine back in the car Elvis even had to make his own inlet manifold. Setting it all up correctly took some time and skill, too.
The project was going to plan, and with wheel-arch extensions added to the bodywork, some work on the suspension and a refresh of the interior this sporty Peugeot was finished. All of this work had cost £7938, but the big question was whether it would beat the power and performance of the original European Rallye. There was only one way to find out…
Heading off to the Pembrey race circuit in Wales to meet Rallye owner, Max, it was time to put the newly retired supermini to the test. Mike was on top form behind the wheel and the stopwatch showed he was just 0.18 of a second slower. What a result for Wheeler Dealers! Oh yes, and the power output? An impressive 135bhp. The boys had done it, and then some.
It was a brilliant result, and no surprise that a car as good as this one would be in demand. Getting the full asking price of £12,500 the cracking 205 was off to New Zealand and new owner, Nigel.
Mike says: “Every car tells a story and it looks like this little supermini had a bad one until we came along. It was screaming out to be rescued by myself and Elvis and although it was a straightforward internet purchase, it really wasn’t a straightforward build. The idea to take on the better European spec. car was a risky one. However, due to Elvis’ engineering skills, we pulled the maximum amount of power over that tiny 1.4L engine almost doubling its horsepower.
“I think it’s also fair to say a younger lighter more racy man would have beaten Max’s race car at the end but even with me behind the wheel we matched to the same second.
“I loved the show and it’s good to get back to some proper engineering.”
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