Time flies!

Time flies! Things have been so busy in personally and professionally over the last few years that it has been difficult to find time to blog. However there’s loads to talk about! Firstly I dipped my toe back into 106 GTi ownership with a very special car! (more info to come in further posts). In the past few years the modern classic car market has been booming. With the advent of low interest rates, investors are looking for tax free gains which has boosted prices of desirable cars across the board.  Combined with middle age people looking to get back into the cars they loved from their youth and the increasing amount of modern, sanitised, mundane motors on the market, good condition 106s are starting to appreciate and get the attention they deserve. With only 294 106 GTis on the road last year ) finding a rust free example in good condition can be a minefield nowadays (see buying guide here for tips). Don’t leave it too late! 

Turbo Rallye project – the plan

PlanSpeccing a turbo conversion for a naturally aspirated motor is not an easy task. Every man and his dog has an opinion, and everybody knows best. My approach is to find a reliable manufacturer that produces a turbo which is well matched to the high revving 1600cc engine. I’ll be doing this by analysing turbo compressor maps to find an efficient turbo that is also available at a low price. I’ll also be using empirical data gathered by the 106 community – first hand experiences can be invaluable and save a lot of time and effort. The aim will be a fast road car that is equally at home on trackdays.
It helps to be clear what you want to achieve with these types of builds or they tend to spend years half completed languishing in a garage surrounded by expensive parts that were bought on a whim.
So with that in mind the ethos will be:
  1. Quality – use proven parts, measure twice, cut once
  2. Low cost – good use of second hand and essential parts only
  3. Reliability – no chasing figures at the expense of reliability
The approach for this project will be to turbocharge the 16V 1600cc TU5J4 engine from the 106 GTi. I will not be lowering the compression, or using forged steel components to keep the cost down. The TUJ4 is a relatively high compression engine at 10.8:1 so I will be looking at running low boost – probably 7.5psi or half a bar of boost depending on how much air the turbo can flow. Any more than this and cylinder pressures rise and the risk of detonation and a melted engine goes up.
Benefits of a low boost standard engine approach
  • Cost – Tu engines are plentiful and cheap. Should the engine let go, replacing it will be easy and cheap. Small turbos are cheaper.
  • Less heat – Having to run relatively low boost should mean less heat management issues to contend with (generally speaking)
  • Responsiveness – high static compression means good drivability off boost and should give good turbo spool
  • Kinder to the transmission – Less boost, less power, less torque through the drivetrain.
  • Risk of pre-ignition – A bad batch of fuel, or hot intake temperatures could pre-ignite the fuel and melt the engine
  • Limited boost means limited power before knock occurs.
  • Increased wear – Running over 50% more power than the engine was designed for, will increase stress and fatigue
  • High cylinder pressures – risk of head lift and head gasket blowing
So given our clear objectives, next time we will delve into the black art of choosing a turbo.
Remember to put your nerd specs on and bring a calculator.

Plans are afoot…

Ever since selling my old 106 GTi a couple of years ago and putting the cash into the house deposit, I knew I’d be back in one again one day. Despite currently owning 2 much faster outright cars, nothing I’ve owned has the same rawness, steering wheel and sheer chuckability (is that even a word?) as the 106 GTi. I liken it to an angry wasp; small, buzzing loudly, changing direction instantly, chasing it’s prey down, and packing a real punch.

The appeal of the GTi starts with it’s lightness; In a world of increasing EU regulation over crash tests, airbags and crumple zones, cars have got heavier over the years. The 106 harks back to a day when regulations were not as strict, and standard equipment was sparse. This meant a very light car by today’s standards, around 950kg. Less weight means improved handling, better acceleration, braking and a canny ability to change direction like nothing else. In the words of the immortal Colin Chapman, “Simplify, and add lightness”. It works.

Steering feel
Another one of it’s USP’s is steering feel in this car – It is uncannily good. It communicates the road surface, grip, camber, through the wheel to your hands in such a way that you feel so confident you can brake at the very last moment, sense how much grip is there, and keep it there just at the threshold of ABS braking. The car feels like it’s constantly communicating how much grip all 4 tyres have sending the road surface flowing back through the steering to your fingertips. It’s a great sensation and hugely underrated in modern cars today which often feel disconnected from the road.

The 106 was created at a time when the engineers ran Peugeot. Before the accountants got involved, the engineers had free reign to set up the car in such a way that it dialled out understeer and while more difficult to control for the layman than say, a 207, with it’s dull understeering chassis, the 106 attitude could be adjusted on the throttle (very easily with cheap/old tyres). The way the car turns in (especially on modern tyres) is sublime, and on a flowing country lane, it’s sweet handling and low inertia means even today, it would challenge modern turbocharged hatchbacks.

The Rallye
All the above also applies to the 106 Rallye which in S2 guise is even lighter than the GTi (865kg) and in my mind looks even better with it’s rally livery and unique bumpers. The Rallye never had the 1.6 16V TU engine from the GTi, making do with an 8v. However, the 106 has been around so long now, that the tuning and modification scene knows it inside out, there is very little that hasn’t been done before.

So yadda yadda, what’s so interesting you say, about buying a old French rustbucket? Just get on with it. Well, that’s the plan. But first we need to talk engines. The standard 8v Rallye engine makes 103bhp. This is not going to cut it. So how about we take the 16v from the GTi (120bhp) drop it in and turbocharge it (200bhp). Should make for a lot of fun!

As I said, plans are afoot!

That smile, when the turbo kicks in

Bear with me

106 GTi bear alloy wheels

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, then comes along some alloy wheels shaped like teddy bears. No, I’m not joking, for your viewing pleasure, we have some teddy bear alloys to fit your 106 GTi. Click here to revel in their amazing looks and be the envy of all your friends. Or should that be laughing stock! Not sure I could ever bring myself to buy such things, even for the better half!

Time capsule 106 GTi!

Immaculate 106With my GTi sold, you’d think I’d lose interest in the little hot hatch. Far from it – I regularly find myself scanning the classifieds for examples of the fast little Pug in road or track guise. As I was looking I stumbled across something really quite rare: A 106 GTi in Surrey in immaculate condition that had covered only 4000 miles form new. Painted in white, – a rare colour for the GTi – it sports the marmite interior yellow striped seating but the pictures show quite how stunning this car is. Registered in 1997, it has astonishingly covered only 266 miles per year. Priced at £8995 it will no doubt take an enthusiast to be interested in buying but  given it is absolutely immaculate I’d be suprised if Peugeot themselves don’t snap it up!

Click here to read more

The pug is up for sale!!

Yep the star of this site is up for sale. I’ve really enjoyed owning this car over the last 2 and a half years. It has a sweet revving engine, easy to keep on the boil and suprises a lot more expensive machinery. It feels like a grown up go-kart. On one hand it is happy to pootle round town but then becomes astonishingly good when chucked down a country lane. I doubt it is much slower down a twisty road than much more powerful cars due to it’s lightweight body (only 900kgs), 128bhp engine (rolling road proven), and fantastic chassis.
It’s a standard GTi in cobalt blue, standard apart from uprated brake calipers. Only 2 previous owners in 14 years, one of which was an older lady, who regularly serviced the car – history present.

Full service history and documenting its service history from 1300 miles plus lots of receipts and invoices.

ALL electrics work as they should, windows, lights, heaters, dash. Spare alloy wheel is included.

It’s been very well looked after in my care over the last two years with the following work carried out so you should have plenty of carefree motoring miles:

Tax 6 months
MOT 9 months

Currently on 143K miles, I bought the car on 122k miles, 2 and a half years ago. Personally I always buy a car on condition not just mileage as 80-90,000 mile cars can be in a lot worse condition than say a well looked after 150,000+ miler

You’ll struggle to find a better example with no niggles, and looked after as well as this car for the price. Bodywork is very good for the age, no laquer peel anywhere just a few of tiny dings on the bonnet and a dent on the door



ABS sensor failure

So it seems these things happen in threes! The ABS sensor light came on the dash for the second time in my ownership. This means parts of the ABS system is not working and so the system is deactivated. Typically it is an ABS sensor on one of the wheel hubs that has failed and needs replacing. While the light is on, the ABS system will not be functioning, so be aware that you are likely to lock up the wheels under heavy braking especially in wet conditions.

Replacing an ABS sensor is quite a straightforward job and can save you money on garage bills if you choose to do it yourself. All you need are some basic tools, and ideally a sturdy vice clamped to a bench or similar.

To diagnose which ABS sensor is at fault and how to replace it, I’ve written a guide here to talk you through the process.

Losing power, jerky, no acceleration

More problems with the Pug! This time the car started hesistating badly under load, and felt very much down on power. Pulling out of a junction, it felt like the exhaust was blocked as the car would barely accelerate up to road speed. It was also ‘kangarooing down the road, one minute it had a little more power, then the next it was gutless again. I nursed it to work and back and set about taking a look at he possible causes. I started with inspecting the coil pack. Typically symptoms like this are down to fuelling or ignition problems. The coil pack can be a possible failure point when experiencing a misfire and relatively cheap to replace. I observed a large crack in the coilpack, with could be causing the lack of spark on one cylinder and hence absence of power. Since I had a spare coil pack I set about replacing it which was fine until I realised that Peugeot obviously have two types of coilpack. They look almost identical with the same product numbers but the loom plug is slightly different. Fail. So I managed to get hold of the correct coil pack, started the engine and… …same problem.

I booked the car into the garage to get sorted quickly and the diagnostics indicated a faulty injector on cylinder 1 and a intermittent fault on number two injector. Two replacements and the car was up and running. The garage cleaned the throttle body and inlet manifold while they were replacing the injectors.

If you’re car has the same symptoms (misfiring, down on power) you can usually narrow it down to one of the following areas (in ascending cost order):

  • Spark plugs
  • Fuel filter – blocked or dirty
  • Coil pack – cracked or faulty
  • Blocked exhaust – cat internals may have dislodged and blocked the exhaust
  • Injectors – dirty or faulty – ultrasonic cleaning can sometimes fix this
  • Lambda sensor – faulty sensor affects engine fuelling
  • Fuel pump – failed or unable to provide adequate fuel pressure
  • Camshaft timing out – backfiring
  • ECU fault

If you don’t have access to a diagnostic machine you could investigate the fault in the above order, however diagnostic checks can be worthwhile (as in my case) and tell you exactly what the problem is, for not much cash.

Another costly month! Though nice of the garage to fit an auxiliary belt, tensioner and spark plugs for free. It can pay to go to a decent reputable garage.

Clutch failure

Not a good week! Driving back from the gym one night this week, the clutch pedal felt like it’s bite was lower than normal. Then suddenly I was unable to select gears – it was as if the clutch was not disconnecting drive from the engine. So I had to carefully slide the gears in using the right amount of revs just to get me home. As I pulled up on the driveway, I tried to move the car out of second gear. Eventually it shifted and the clutch pedal hit the floor. The clutch was making an awful grinding noise in neutral which made me think this was not going to be cheap! So not having the time or inclination to diagnose a clutch fault I rang the garage and asked them to recover the next day.

The garage confirmed the release bearing was completely shot and had started grinding through the clutch forks. The annoying thing is, that I replaced the clutch with a Valeo item not 10,000 miles ago and it looks like the part was faulty as the release bearing is worn to pieces. The garage replaced the input shaft seal on the gearbox while it was off, as well as a driveshaft seal to cure a small oil leak and the Pug was back on the road for a not inconsiderable sum.


Shortest posts ever? The Pug went in for it’s 2nd MOT in my ownership and am happy to say it sailed straight through MOT with no problems whatsoever. Not bad for a 14 year old French motor!

106 GTi Turbo

I stumbled across this video on YouTube – quite nippy for a little French tin can!

Airbag light revisited

Airbag warningSince I , the Airbag light has intermittently come on the dash console. As you may know the connectors under the seats are the prime culprit for this. I connected them up with bullet connectors which have obviously worked loose with the seat moving back and forward. Luckily I didn’t have to remove the seats again, but simply ensured the connections were sound by reaching underneath and securing them. Hey presto, no airbag light on the dash cluster. Another cheap and quick fix ready for the MOT

Blowing exhaust

ExhaustWith this year’s MOT drawing near I knew it was time to get the exhaust replaced. It was worn and rusty and I remember patching it up for the last MOT so it was overdue a replacement. Normally I’d choose a decent stainless steel replacement to free up a little power and stave off rust permanently, but I wanted to keep the car standard so didn’t look into performance exhaust options. I left the car with the local Wilco Motosave who put a new exhaust on from the catalytic convertor back for the reasonable sum of £150. These guys are reliable, friendly and cheap and had already patched it up for free a couple of weeks earlier. So thats another job that should help the car sail through the dreaded MOT next week.

How to fix the alarm on the 106 GTi

Ultrasonic Alarm sensorThe GTi is the only car in the 106 range to have a factory fitted alarm system. However French electrics being what they are often means the alarm system more often than not can cause trouble over the years. You may find yourself wearily having to get up in the middle of the night to turn off the alarm as your neighbours curtains twitch and give you the evil eye! Fear not the solution is actually easier than you may think. For almost a year now I’ve been disabling the ultrasonics (the sensors that detect air movement inside the car when the alarm is activated) every time I got out the car. This is obviously far from ideal. So I finally decided to stop being lazy and fix the issue. You’ll need to buy 1 or 2 new ultrasonic sensors (I had a pair from a friend – buying two means you can be sure you’ve cured the problem).

  • Start by removing the top of the door seal and pulling the A pillar trim back from its clips. This will expose the sensor wire.
  • Remove the sensor from the trim
    Troublesome alarm
  • Cut the sensor wire about halfway down and strip back the wires.
  • Pull the spades from the plug on the new sensor
  • Clip two spade connectors onto the car wiring.
  • Plug the spades into the new connector
  • Wrap up the wiring with some electric tape if necessary to keep it tidy
  • Connectors

  • Now before packing away the wiring, I suggest waiting for a time when you will be in the house all day so you can lock the car and check that the alarm doesn’t go off without cause.
  • If the new sensors work, carefully place them back into the A pillar trim and refit the trim.
  • Refit the door seal
  • Now test the alarm by sitting in the car and locking it with the key fob and waving your arms. If the sensors are functioning the alarm should go off.
  • Pack up and enjoy the peace and quiet


Best tyres for a 106 gti?

FalkensSo it was time for new tyres again. The last set of Falkens have lasted around 17,000 miles which I thought was excellent for the stress they endure and the abuse I put them through. This did include rotating the front and back sets about halfway through their life. I really do ask a lot of the tyres with hard braking and cornering, and what was suprising was how well the ZE912s coped in the wet with the tread down to the wear markers. Wet roundabouts showed no sign of giving up grip unless the entry speed was excessive. Keep it tidy and the lateral grip was impressive. Given this, I decided to purchase another set of the Falkens as I was impressed by their performance for the money. I think I’d have to spend another £30-£40 per corner to better them.

With 14″ tyres now increasingly hard to come by, they are one of the best value summer tyres out there considering their good performance on the road. I ordered from Event Tyres online using a voucher got the front axle fitted for £130. Not bad considering they come to your home and place of work and get on with it very efficiently. They even managed to balance the GTi’s wheels which is notoriously difficult sometimes as they don’t have a central spigot (no hole in the middle of the alloy) so the fitter needs a special adapter. The fitter asked me to observe him torquing up the wheels with his torque wrench as I signed the paperwork with his colleague. A very polite and impressive service and would recommend it.