Home » I Bought A French Hot Hatch And It Almost Immediately Imploded: Members’ Rides

I Bought A French Hot Hatch And It Almost Immediately Imploded: Members’ Rides

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What do you do when you only get a couple of months of fun out of your new cool car before it blows a big ol’ hole through its block? You rebuild it, duh. That’s exactly what happened to reader Brandon Forbes’ 1997 Peugeot 306 GTi-6 just two months after importing it into the United States. Today’s Member’s Rides feature is all about that long road back to roadworthiness. Never give up! Never surrender.

(Welcome to Members’ Rides. This is the weekly feature where we look at people who became members of the site by signing up here and parting with a little of their hard-earned dough to keep The Autopian going. Our plan is to do these every week! Today it’s Brandon’s turn!)

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For most Americans, the Peugeot 306 GTi-6 is the epitome of forbidden automotive fruit. It’s a classic French hot hatch built to rival the Volkswagen GTI, putting down a fair 167 brake horsepower to the front wheels but only weighing 2,480 lbs, according to Top Gear’s retro review of it. Peugeot included “6” in its trim name to tout its six-speed manual gearbox, which was still a big deal for a little hatch at the time.

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It’s light, it’s chuckable, it’s fun, it’s French and it’s even practical. Of course, America didn’t get it. We’re unworthy of such things for some reason.

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For Forbes, importing this cool Peugeot was the perfect follow-up act to an ownership history that included both a Lotus Elise and a Toyota Crown Majesta. I’ll just let him explain the lengthy process of deciding on, importing and rebuilding a cool car of this caliber. Take it away, Brandon!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into cars.

I’m in the Air Force running an innovation program up in Newport News, Virginia. I’m married with three kids, and I’ve owned 27 vehicles with my favorites being a ’95 Miata, a ’96 Toyota Crown, a 2005 Lotus Elise and the aforementioned Peugeot.

As a kid, I struggled to bond with my dad who was gone for work a lot, but we always had cars that needed work. At about age 10, I decided I was going to start working on them with him, and as he taught me how brakes work and everything else, it built our relationship and started a new obsession for me.

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27 vehicles! Tell us a little bit about the most interesting cars you’ve had before.

Back when they were cheap, I picked up an NA Miata for $2,000. It was a fantastic little car, and I moved from Utah to Alabama for a few months for work, and then on to Texas with only what I could fit in that thing. I put coilovers on it and since the Tail of the Dragon was right on the way (via a 500-mile detour), I spent hours with it there on my way to Alabama. I have never had a car that was so willing and yet also so perfectly reliable. Nothing ever broke on it. I drove it like I stole it for two years and it never complained. It was fantastic!

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My dream car was always a Lotus Elise, and I saw at the start of the pandemic that they were selling in the $20,000s for the first time in a long time. So, I convinced my wife to let me pick one up and sold the Miata. This is an example of why you never meet your heroes. The car was incredible and it’s everything everyone says it is, but in my inexpert hands, it was only about 10% more capable in the twisties than the Miata was. Of course, it was faster in a straight line, but it’s a Lotus. That’s not where it’s happy. So, I spent 10 times the money on a car and still wanted my Miata back. Plus, it had electrical issues that left me stranded a couple times. By this time, we had three kids, the older two were into sports, and it was getting harder and harder to make it work without two cars that they could safely ride in, so I decided it was time to go back to a car with a backseat.

I was determined to still have something fun and unique. I have absolutely zero interest in any car that is common or anything that is not fun to drive, and since I had always wanted a JDM, I decided to go that route. I found a Celica GT-Four, asked maybe 10% of the questions I should have, and ended up with a complete POS that I was constantly working on. Despite the Celica being sold here, it shares basically nothing with the GT-Four, so I was importing every part I ever needed from Japan, the U.K., Poland, and all over the place. It got expensive fast. After putting on coilovers and replacing every component of the Super Strut suspension (which would be fun to read a deep dive on, just saying) as well as all of the rear suspension arms, plus rebuilding the brake calipers and CV axles, I got it to the point I thought it was solid, and found I was bored. It handled well and was a good car, but had none of the sharp handling I was used to and so lusted after. It was time to move on.

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The Toyota Crown in all its Majesta, er, um, majesty. Photo credit: Brandon Forbes

Cool, so for me to be happy in a sports car, I need something tiny with sharp handling, but that doesn’t fit my family needs. I decided to find something completely different then and get out of the sports car game for a bit. At this point, I found an incredible car. I started watching all the car auctions in Japan, learning about what was available and learning what things usually sold for. I also paid attention to how weird could I get without having to special order parts from all over the world. I settled on the Toyota Crown Majesta, found the perfect one in Japan, and reached out to Glenn, the owner of TexasJDM to import it.

It looked like a Japanese Chrysler 300, had air suspension that swallowed the bumps like they weren’t there (even on 19-inch wheels!), and was silent. The amount of insulation in that car meant I could whisper to my kids in the back and they could hear me just fine even when cruising at 80 mph. The most hilarious part was, since it was meant for the Japanese executives to be driven around in, the back seat reclined, the rear seats were heated while the fronts were not, and the back passenger side seat even had a massage function. My kids loved that car more than anything else I have ever owned, and it was just fun to see the kids get so excited about a car. They liked the Lotus, but they LOVED the Crown.

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Track all the cars! Photo credit: David T. Gillen

I put a timing belt on it and upgraded the brakes, but it never needed any real work in the year that I had it. I had an incredible opportunity to take it to a free track day at Circuit of the Americas, and man, it was fun. Then less than two weeks after that, a wonderful San Antonio driver decided to make a lane change right into my back door, effectively doing a pit maneuver on me and sending me skidding sideways down the freeway at 70 mph. The wheel and rear door were messed up, but it was still totally driveable. Insurance totaled it, but I bought it back and tried for months to find someone who would help me fix it to no avail. Eventually, I decided I needed to let it go and get something else, which led to the Peugeot.

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This is sadly all it took to total the Crown. Photo credit: Brandon Forbes

What’s in your garage now?

Well, there’s the 1997 Peugeot 306 GTi-6 that I imported from the United Kingdom and immediately blew the engine in it. It’s been off the road for almost a year now, but I’m close to getting it back on. This car is so much fun! Or it was, you know, before the big bang and all.

I also have a 2013 Toyota Sienna SE, which is nothing crazy, but the SE package made me actually enjoy driving a van for the first time. Then there’s the 2011 Chevy Cruze. I hate it, I hate everything about it and you can ignore this line. [We did not ignore this line.—Ed.]

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So, why did you import a Peugeot hot hatch?

I found the Celica at a dealer and it was already here, and I found the Crown in Japan, but still paid Glenn to get it here, so this time, I wanted to import a car all on my own. I initially looked at Japanese cars again, but kind of wanted to go a different direction. Also, all I could do was look at the auctions, and there, you have to make a decision based on like two to four pictures.

Then I started looking in England because I can actually read the ads there. I wanted a Vauxhall and also looked hard at some Series 1 Elises, but knew that wasn’t really going to work. MG, Rover—I looked at just about everything. I was very hesitant to go back to front-wheel drive after having been in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive cars for a long time.

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Then I started looking at the Peugeot 205 GTi, and learned about the Peugeot/Citroën passive rear steering system. My favorite FWD car that I have ever driven was a 4WS [as in, four-wheel-steer—Ed.] Prelude, but it was always in the shop because the system was so complicated and unreliable. The Peugeot four-wheel-steering system does not rely on hydraulics or electronics—those are all for its active systems. The passive system basically just allows flex in the rear axle, and as the pressure rises on the rear wheels, it allows them to turn a few degrees (a deep dive here would be awesome, too). This sounded fascinating, and everything I read said that this system would result in oversteer, which is rare in a FWD car.

The 205 is a bit small, and the good examples were more than I was hoping to spend, so I looked at what other cars had the passive rear steering system. I came across the 306, but man, most of them are severely underpowered and I just couldn’t talk myself into it. I also knew that it was a terrible idea. Like, truly awful. Parts would be impossible to source. I tried hard to talk myself out of anything that would put me in that position again, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Eventually, I discovered the GTi-6, which is supposed to be incredibly reliable (ha) and is very comparable to a VW GTI, but supposedly handles better. I decided that when it broke, I was in a financial position where I could afford to get a rental for a week if that’s what it took, or I could get something cheap if it went really poorly. So, I said screw it. I looked around and found what was supposed to be the best condition one that wasn’t silver, and bought it.

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Home at last alongside the Sienna. Photo credit: Brandon Forbes

How tough was it to import this car yourself?

The actual import process was not as bad as I expected. I was constantly terrified that I would screw something up that would prevent me from being able to register it and I would just be screwed, but that was obviously not the case. Once I found the car, I contacted the seller, put a deposit down and asked for patience while I figured everything out. I found a company called U.K. Car Exporters, and had a very responsive guy there who walked me through everything on that end. They could get the car cleared for export and onto a boat, and then I just had to figure out how to get it through customs.

When I owned the Crown, I got to know a couple guys who import stuff just for themselves. One suggested a customs broker who could get it cleared, so I contacted him, and he had everything cleared through customs before the car even landed. Registration was a bit more complicated. I went to the tax assessor’s office which is who handles registrations in Bexar County [Texas], where they rejected my paperwork three times because I didn’t check this box, or I didn’t write the VIN legibly enough or whatever. Eventually, they accepted it, gave me plates and a registration.

Then I just had to wait for the title. I waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. So, I reached out to see what was wrong and they said that it was flagged for additional verification, which would take up to 180 days. This was in like, March, and I was moving in May. I explained my situation, and the lady was super helpful, cancelling whatever additional scrutiny they had planned. She issued the title and I had it a week later.

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I just recently re-registered it in Virginia, and they rejected it, saying they needed a bunch of stuff, so I have sent it all back and am waiting to see what they say, but it’s making me nervous. I am glad I imported it myself as that was definitely a bucket list item for me, but having done it now, I will probably let other people handle that for me if I buy another import.

So, what happened to the 306 GTi-6 after you got it?

I bought the Peugeot in August 2022. It arrived to me in San Antonio in September, I got it registered in October, and then I drove the crap out of it. Man, it is fun. I did a drive in it with the local Lotus club, and when we all met up, they were laughing at me and some almost seemed insulted that I would bring that to hang out with the Lotus crowd. Then the drive started. These guys know how to drive and they pick some crazy, windy roads, but they still stop a few times along the four to five hour drives. In the beginning, I was in the rear, figuring that I was going to be the slowest one there and I didn’t want to annoy anyone with that. As the day went on, I found that while I could not keep up in the straights, I was right there with them through the curves. Part of that is that I was going 9/10ths and I am sure they were not, and I also had some pretty nice tires on the Pug that were brand new at the time. I ended up towards the front of the group by the end because I was legitimately keeping pace with them. At lunch, everyone wanted to come see my car. Suddenly, it was cool. That was such a fun experience, and man, seeing the tiny little European hatch look like a minivan in comparison to the other cars there was hilarious.

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They’ll never know. Photo credit: Brandon Forbes

A couple months went by, and one day, I was driving the Peugeot home from work, just cruising down the freeway doing about 70 mph, not pushing it or doing anything unusual. I heard a bang, then saw smoke, and I pulled over to find a massive hole in the bottom of the oil pan and coolant spraying out of the radiator. Well, crap. I got it towed home and jacked it up to find the remains of my oil pump savagely sliced in half by what remains of the rod for cylinder 1. It blew a hole in the front of the block that sent engine chunks through the radiator, as well as one that went out the back of the engine that destroyed the motor mount.

You mentioned that it’s nearly ready to hit the road again, though. Tell us what you’ve done to it so far.

The challenges involved in getting this back on the road far outweigh anything I dealt with on the Celica or any other car. Initially, I thought of buying a used engine, getting it shipped over and that would be that, but then I decided I needed to know what I was getting. I finally found a builder at a shop in the UK called Spoox Motorsport who specializes in Peugeot and builds Peugeot race cars, and had him build me an engine. I went with forged internals so I am not worried about throwing another rod, but beyond that, I kept it pretty much OEM because I don’t have the ability to tune it for any mods I wanted. He had a hell of a time getting some of the parts he needed, which delayed things considerably. I didn’t get the engine until one week before I was supposed to move to Virginia. Oh, and the crate he shipped it in got smashed, destroying the alternator, timing cover, cam gears and a couple sensors. Of course, Spoox replaced everything that got damaged in transit, but that took time, so I had to put the project on hold. I threw the car on a trailer, and the engine rode in the U-Haul.

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On the Lotus drive, back when it was driving.

The final build sheet for it included:

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  • Engine
  • Radiator
  • Motor mount
  • Right CV axle
  • New pads and rotors
  • Quick-shift kit
  • Two new alternators
  • Lightweight flywheel
  • Clutch
  • New silicone hoses for the intake, radiator and several others
  • I feel like there is so much more to list, but I think everything else just went into the engine.

I have the engine in, and tried to start it a couple weeks ago but nothing happened. The guy in the U.K. has been incredible on this journey, though. I have called him every time I have gotten stuck, I show him the problem, and he instantly knows what’s wrong. There have been numerous times where I was struggling for like an hour, then I call him and no joke—five minutes later, that piece is done. It’s awesome and I am so grateful for all his help. Once it’s running, I still need to fix a couple suspension things, and there’s a sensor I need as well, but I am holding off on that order until it runs and I know what else (if anything) it needs.

As of this week, however, the Peugeot has started!!! I don’t have a few things put back together on it just yet so I couldn’t drive it yet, but it started!!!

What about the rest of your garage? Tell us about the Sienna and your less-than-loved Cruze.

We’ve had a van in the family for a while now. I am married with three kids, shortly after our second was born, my wife’s car, a ’94 Honda Accord, pretty much died. It needed a clutch and suspension work, the spark plug tubes were constantly full of oil, and it just wasn’t worth fixing anymore. Plus, she wanted something bigger to accommodate two kids. I tried to talk her into a Honda CR-V or a Pilot, but she hated them and in the end we got a 2003 Honda Odyssey. I hated that van. It did the job, and was stupid practical, but I always hated driving it. After three years suffering with that thing, one of Torch’s furry friends jumped out in front of me, and I will forever be grateful that that deer sacrificed its life so I could get out of the Odyssey.

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Minivans: They just work. Photo credit: Brandon Forbes

We knew we were replacing it with another van, and I hated the Toyota Sienna less than I had hated the Odyssey, but I still did not like it. We drove every trim except the SE, but then an SE popped up close to us hours before we intended to buy a different one. My wife actually had to convince me to go look at it, and wow. It’s still a van that is far from a sports car, but the seats are so much more supportive, the suspension is completely different, and you can actually feel what the van is doing. The SE took the van from being a penalty box to being a comfortable place to eat up the miles. I have owned 26 other vehicles over the last 17 years, and aside from the Sienna, the longest I have ever owned one was three years and most cars last only around a year. We have had the Sienna for five years and I have no intention of getting rid of it anytime soon. We have put 100,000 miles on it and driven it through 28 states. It’s been great, and the plan is to get an identical one when it inevitably dies.

As for the Chevy Cruze, man, it’s awful and I was not supposed to have it this long. When I threw a rod in the 306 last December, I knew it was going be out of commission for a bit. A coworker had the Cruze, but it was their spare vehicle that had broken down and needed all sorts of work. He hadn’t even registered it in a couple years, so I asked if he would be interested in selling it. I got it for next to nothing and had to replace the turbo (which is built into the exhaust manifold), the catalytic converter, the passenger window regulator, and a bunch of other things to get it roadworthy again. It cost me more to fix than it did to buy it.

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The Chevrolet Cruze: Ain’t nothing too wrong with a running car. Photo credit: Brandon Forbes

The plan was to hold it a couple months while I got the Pug up and running, and then to sell it before I left Texas. I moved from Texas in May, and I am still stuck in this stupid Cruze. I have to admit that it has been a good car for its intended purpose. It got me and the dogs to Virginia without issue. Granted, it still has a rusty, leaking exhaust, the headlights are fogged so bad that they hardly illuminate anything, the previous owner hit an armadillo with it and messed up the front bumper cover, and it is the most underpowered car I have ever owned.  I am pretty sure the 1996 Ford F-150 jellybean I had for a while handled better, but I have come to a sort of begrudging acceptance of the Cruze.

Having said that, I will be working on the Pug again for a bit on Monday and hope to have it going reliably by the end of the year.

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Lastly, what would you have in your dream garage?

I really want to keep the little Pug and pick up another NA Miata, plus a VW ID.Buzz and a TVR Sagaris if I could afford it.

Thanks, Brandon! If you’re a member and want to be highlighted, please check your email for a link to a survey you can fill out. If you don’t want to be featured, that’s also fine. Go here and join today!

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All photos credit Jeff Harlan (@limecreekroad/@atxrally on social media) except where otherwise noted.

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My 0.02 Cents
My 0.02 Cents
4 months ago

Absolutely a great choice of car, I had access to many of them back in the mid – late 90’s when I lived in the UK. Our project managers were supposed to get estate cars (wagons) as company car due to this ‘unwritten rule’. Then one of them said why? and got a GTI-6, then another one did, then another.
We use to enjoy every HP the cars had with no regard to wear & tear as they were only keeping them for two years. Happy Days indeed.
Congrats on getting one over here.

Strangek
Strangek
4 months ago

That Pug is awesome, love the wheels especially! Well bought…er, maybe not. Cool car though!

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Strangek

Haha I have no regrets. I knew it was a bad idea, but rebuilding it has been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot. Also, thanks regarding the wheels. I spent an embarrassing amount of time deciding what to get for it and then I had to get them out of Denmark because the OZ dealers in the states couldn’t even order them with the right offset.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
4 months ago

It sounds like you had a 4th gen Prelude (91-96) with the electronically controlled 4WS system. I had a 3rd gen which had a fully mechanical system that was incredibly reliable and never required any maintenance in 200k miles. It’s on the short list of cars that I regret getting rid of.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

Wasn’t mine, but it was definitely a third gen. I was just a lot tech so I didn’t know what it was always in for, just that it was. Good to know the 4ws is a solid system on those though!

SageWestyTulsa
SageWestyTulsa
4 months ago

Wow, @Forbestheweirdo sounds like ideal next-door neighbor material. As a fellow dad with a history of ill-advised automotive decisions (60-something and counting!), I have a deep appreciation for the thought process and the commitment here. And I’ve always wanted an Elise (and a Peugeot, for that matter!), but have never had the money at the right time. This was a great read.

Additionally, as the owner of a tornado red Alltrack on white Sparcos, I salute your setup on the 306.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  SageWestyTulsa

Thanks. I spent many hours picking out the wheels. The factory wheels are a solid cast, no hole in the middle, so no one can balance tires on them here. I decided that was reason enough to get some sexy new wheels. The sparco version was on the list but didn’t come in an offset I needed so I would’ve had to get spacers is what made me go oz.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

Question: why do you have the US plate over the UK plate? Why not just remove the UK plate?

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Chia
Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Ben Chia

Honestly mostly laziness. The UK plate isn’t just screwed on there, it’s got copious amounts of double sided foam tape holding it on, and the chances of getting the body underneath that looking good isn’t very likely, so rather than scraping everything off and likely having destroyed paint under there I just left it.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
4 months ago

It also looks cool that way. Like an old suitcase with travel stickers.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

I just think it looks weird and distracting, like you’re hiding something. Either show it all or not at all.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

Fair enough

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago

Brandon sounds like a swell blood who likes pain.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago

Haha hard to deny that one. I knew it was a bad idea then did it anyway. That refers not only to the Pug, but half the decisions I make in life.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago

Bloke, not blood.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

Great article Brandon! Very well written.

And that Pug sounds cool as hell. Love that you went forged. No more rod rodeo for sure.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Thanks! Yeah it should be good to go now, just have to put the front end back together and see how it goes

SarlaccRoadster
SarlaccRoadster
4 months ago

Did the original engine bite the dust because the timing belt change interval was ignored? From my limited experience with french cars (a couple Citroens and a Peugeot 309) that’s the only thing you have to be careful with.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago

It’s possible, the previous owner supposedly replaced it a year before I bought it but I have no documentation to back that up.

ChuckFickens
ChuckFickens
4 months ago

I find it unlikely that the previous owner was telling the truth. The car had its last MOT in the UK in August 2022 which a assume was about when you purchased it? and then before that the last MOT was in November 2018 meaning the car was taken off the road in November 2019 at the latest (it also only done just over 2k miles between the two MOT dates and only another 40 miles since April 2008)

https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/results?registration=p336vwy&checkRecalls=true

It seems unlikely that they would change the timing belt and then it just sat for a year not being on the road.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  ChuckFickens

Yeah he convinced me that the August MOT would suffice instead of a full inspection (I’m an idiot I know) and he bought the car not running, without an MOT and was working to get it roadworthy again, but in the end it was one more project than he had time for. So I know there were several things he had done to get it through the MOT but yeah I have no idea what

SarlaccRoadster
SarlaccRoadster
4 months ago

So it seems disingenuous at best to blame “french cars baaad!!!” on blatant disregard for maintenance. As a general rule, whenever you buy a car without maintenance records you should replace timing components, water pumps and other known things that would cause catastrophic failure if ignored.

As someone with a long history of poor car buying decisions who, among other cars, has owned 8 Alfa Romeos, I have never strayed from the above rule. Somehow that has led me to never get stranded by a broken car in my close to 1.5 million miles driven on 4 continents (not counting getting stranded by broken rentals or cars I didn’t own/maintain).

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago

You’re not wrong, and I never meant for it to sound like I was knocking French cars. I was told it had a new timing belt, and when I pulled it apart the old engine the belt was still there and looked relatively new.

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

But, but, but… why the RHD ?
Was it because the importers were in the UK and it was easier to source a car there ?

This thing is French, there are plenty (well, not plenty but enough) of these in LHD on The Continent ?
Aren’t you painting yourself into a corner as far as specific parts go ? Anything in the engine bay that’s on’ the “wrong” side, that you’ll have to source from the UK rather than from France or Germany ?

BTW, this car was a big thing in France when it was released. The 6-speed gearbox and the few extra ponies were making a substantial difference compared to the 5-speed one (which came with a boring ACAV-series engine which was apparently worse than what its 155hp promised).

It won most of the comparative tests in French media in its time.
It was very, very expensive new (in France), even for French buyers used to pay through the roof for French cars – I believe north of $25k (in 1990’s $). It was pricier than a Golf VR6, close to a Corrado VR6. Still, it was selling decently in the beginning.

Then, something awful happened: pervasive European rules completely ended the quotas on Japanese imports (which were one of the main dams keeping French manufacturers in France sweet and cosy), and overnight the Impreza WRX became available.

At a price which was pretty much the same. Or not that much higher.

And the S16 (as it was called in France) got the fate of the Porsche 968 when the E36 M3 was released. It died on the vine.

Last edited 4 months ago by Goblin
Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Goblin

Good question. It was definitely easier to find in the UK just because the ads are in English, and when I got it there were very few that were legal for import, I was at the time under the impression that the S16 was the 5 speed and the GTi-6 was unique to the UK, which technically it is but same car under a different name is the S16. Really it was just easier and I don’t mind the RHD so that’s what I went with.

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

Well, if you ever need a translator from/to French don’t hesitate to ping me here.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
4 months ago

Thing is, UK cars are usually rusty from the weather and badly maintained because of their low used value.

A French car would’ve been better but I understand the language barrier is a bitch.

Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago

Great piece Brandon and Stef. Now I know the story behind that picture. 306 love. I lived in NL for 2 years back in the ’00’s. I had a buddy that wanted the previous gen 206. Man, they loved those 206 and 306’s over there.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Parsko

206s are definitely sweet. I lived in England for a couple years when they were new and man they were everywhere!

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
4 months ago

Fun story! I hope you get the Pug roadworthy soon!

For the Cruze, they all eat the turbo eventually. If you’re so inclined, throw some Bilstein OE replacement struts and shocks on there. Those will be a touch stiffer than OEM and should help the handling. Lastly, the 1.4T/autotragic powertrain needs a tune to wake it up. They’re dog slow with the factory programming and running 87 octane gas. The gearing in the 2011 autotragic doesn’t help either. It’s too short and won’t shift until the engine is way outside its powerband.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago

Yeah so I’ve heard on the Cruze. The plan is probably to sell it once I know the Pug is good to go, definitely not putting money into upgrades for it. It’s close to 170k and just needs to be someone else’s problem at this point

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
4 months ago

Agreed, we all get those cars. Absolutely sell it since it does nothing for you.

John McMillin
John McMillin
4 months ago

I have to salute your dedication, Stef. You’re a true enthusiast, like I might have been if I’d had a bigger income. Good luck with your current project – but if it doesn’t work out, you know the next one will. One question: why did the Pug repair need two alternators? No, make that two questions; how does it feel driving on the wrong side of the car?

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  John McMillin

The first one got smashed on its journey from the UK. Thanks FedEx.

So it’s my third RHD, 2 of which have been manuals. I thought it would be super weird, but it really isn’t. Took a week or two to get used to it, but after that the only issue was the turn signals being on the opposite side on the JDMs, luckily the Pug is the same as US cars, and being from the UK the speedometer is in mph so I don’t have to constantly convert it to know how fast I’m going. Unprotected lefts are difficult, but I only have one of those on my commute and it’s easily avoided.

The Dude
The Dude
4 months ago

Your RHD take gives me hope. I’ve seriously thought about picking up a Century, and probably would have last year when I was car shopping if it weren’t for the RHD thing. But based on my experience playing racing games, I had a really hard time adjusting to the cars that were RHD, and was worried about making an expensive mistake.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

So the century is one I lust after for sure, but every part is unique to them and they didn’t make enough for me to dare. Parts will be hard. The RHD would be the least of my worries on that one haha

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
4 months ago

You’ve gone through a lot for this car, but it will be worth it when running again – it’s always great pulling up to a light and knowing there’s very little chance of seeing another car like the one you’re driving!

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Indeed. I know of a few 306s in the states, but I’ve never actually seen another over here.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
4 months ago

Excellent piece, really a lot of fun living with Brandon through his car stories.
I can absolutely identify with Brandon’s feelings re the Lotus.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago

I have an unreasonable love of Peugeot. And I should know better. Great story.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

I knew better, but still got sucked in and can’t wait til I can drive her next week hopefully!

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago

Nice to see the British plates still in place, although displaying plates with a Union Jack on is considered tacky. For the nerds, the letter P indicates the year of registration, in this case between the 1st August 1996 and 31st July 1997. The last two letter indicate where the car was registered, MY being Manchester.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Washington requires the use of its own front plate but I did what I could with mine:

https://live.staticflickr.com/5699/23360716673_b61f0ef688_c.jpg

I had to think outside the box for this French plate, though. Too many characters otherwise:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49945378703_3648aa33a1_o.png

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

So does Texas, I haven’t ever had anyone care though so I decided to risk it. Turns out that when the car can’t leave the garage it’s pretty easy to get away without one haha

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

How is it tacky? Do you not have to have the Union Jack on there? But yeah there was never a question, I wish I could’ve found a spot for the US plate that wasn’t on top of the UK one though but the front still looks good.

I knew about what P reg meant, didn’t know the MY bit though. Thanks!

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago

Basically, when were still part of the EU *sniff* you could display an EU flag on the left hand side of the plate, and you didn’t have to display the white UK country identifier stickers on your car.
Now we’re not part of the EU, we have display the white country identifier stickers when driving on the mainland. The UK government, in all it’s current right-wing populist pleasing dog whistle form, has decided that portion of the plate that used to be used for the EU flag, can now be used to show a Union Jack, Welsh flag or Saltire.
Generally people displaying Union Jacks in public are to be avoided because they’re frothing right wing thickos.

SageWestyTulsa
SageWestyTulsa
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I’ll definitely be adding “frothing right wing thickos” to my repertoire.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Oh ok. Interesting. Well I’m glad it has them now haha

Cerberus
Cerberus
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Same in the US. Not EVERYONE with a flag on their car is a tool, but it’s a good indicator and is always the case if it’s some degenerate in a pickup with a huge (frayed) flag waving from a pole in the bed.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

That was a fun story, and that Peugeot is a handsome little guy.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  Iwannadrive637

Thanks! I quite like it. I think… Been a while since I’ve driven it haha

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
4 months ago

Great read, and thanks for the inspiration to have cool dad cars on a budget!

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
4 months ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

Haha I spent too long in boring cars, I can do cheap, I can’t do boring anymore.

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