After a short spate of Volkswagens, the last one being a Corrado G60, I decided that I wanted to own a car that could be used day-to-day but on a weekend, could become a track/competition car. My list of potential cars ran to a Renault 5 Turbo, a VW Polo G40 or the diminutive Peugeot.
The first two cars were ruled out, as the fact that they both had forced induction would have put me in fairly competitive classes in hillclimbing, which was one of the desired uses for the car. The search for a suitable example then began, mainly using autotrader.co.uk and, more importantly, 106rallye.co.uk. This was a website that I had looked over a couple of times before, when I’d owned my XSi. There were always plenty of cars for sale on there and the vast majority of them had been owned by Rallye enthusiasts so it seemed like a good place to start.
After a couple of weeks of looking, only to find that most of the Rallyes for sale were a million miles from where I was, I saw that someone had advertised their car and that they were only 25 miles away. After exchanging a couple of emails, I met the owner on the way back from selling my Corrado. He was a great bloke who told me the ins and outs of the car and was refreshingly open and honest. He was the second owner and had bought the car when it was just two years old. He had then been stationed in Germany with the Fusiliers so he took the car with him. After 9 years of ownership he was changing careers so the car had to go to make way for a van! After seeing the car, I could barely contain my excitement as it was exactly what I was looking for.
The owner suggested bringing it down to the garage that I work at the next day so that I could get it in the air. All went well with that and by lunchtime the deal was done and I was the beaming owner of a slightly faded, but original Cherry Red Rallye. The car came with a file full of bills and brochures, a MOMO steering wheel and a Cotton Green induction kit. The previous owner had also made a couple of choice modifications to the car which were a Supersprint 4-2-1 manifold, Eibach springs and dampers and braided brake hoses all round.
The first job to be undertaken was the timing belt as this was due to be changed and I didn’t fancy exploiting the brochures claims of 100bhp at 7,200rpm on an old cambelt. At the same time I replaced the cam tensioner, alternator belt, water pump and the rocker cover gasket to set my mind at ease.
The first plus point to owning the Peugeot came when I ended up paying just over £45 for all the parts needed. Working at a garage was a plus point when it came to fitting the parts which is great as I’m not the most mechanically minded person in the world. The other benefit to working at a garage is that I’m insured on their fleet policy although being a 1300cc I doubt insuring it would break the bank.
Once I got the car sorted, I joined the 106 Rallye Register and, via the Internet forum, met up with a few local lads in Newcastle with a mixture of Series 1’s and Series 2’s. A couple of weeks later, a group drive was organised that took us over from Consett to Hartside Pass via Alston and then down the A66 to Barnard Castle and finally ending up at a pub near Spennymoor for a good feed and a chance to chew the fat over the days mishaps and adventure. The car was running great and it was a chance to be able to give it some stick and use all of its revs. What was really evident was the fact that the car thrived on being revved and that it actually seems to prefer it to running around on light throttle inputs. Conditions were perfect on the day and the sight and feeling of being part of a Rallye convoy was exhilarating and plans are afoot for the next Hartside Thrash come the spring!
In the mean time I have a few plans for the car over the winter. First on the list is a clutch change as it is beginning to show unwillingness to change gears. The car will also be receiving a bucket seat and harnesses in readiness for its first season at Harewood Hillclimb and the occasional trackday at Croft. Most of all I’m looking forward to using the winter to iron out any creases with the car and to learn about its little quirks. Hopefully this year will be all about having fun and making the car my own and judging by the last month and a half, I’m going to enjoy every facet of the French flyer!