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! 

Tax doesn’t have to be taxing (or does it?!)

car taxIt depresses me every year when I have to renew my car tax and see the price raises every single year. This year it’s £210 for a year as the car is old enough to be in the Private Light Goods band. This means it is taxed on engine size not emissions; 1.6 litres and above is currently £210. Which means, ludicrously, my Evo is also £210 to tax while no doubt chucking out two or three times the Pug’s CO2. Why oh why can’t the Government not scrap road tax and simply charge tax on fuel? So-called gas guzzlers and high mileage drivers will be taxed more. Which is surely what the Government is trying to advocate againt or am I being naiive? :o)

New addition to the fleet

The lack of updates has been noted so I better come clean – We have a new addition to the fleet which has been competing with the 106 for driveway space:

I’ve always wanted to own an Evo – I love the technology, I love the unapologetic aggressive looks, I love the heritage – and having loved the look of the VII (odd choice I know) for years, I suddenly found myself obsessed by the version V. Almost identical to the VI bar some minor cosmetic and mechanical changes but I much
prefer the looks of the rear wing and front bumper compared to the bulbous VI.

Don’t think it’s game over for the 106 though, far from it. An update coming soon…

Brake upgrade

The brakes took a bit of a beating at the but were quite poor even before that. So I started looking at brake upgrades to see what was feasible. Since I wanted to retain the standard 14″ wheels, the largest caliper I could fit was the 266mm setup from the 306 Xsi, 206 GTi, Berlingo and a few other models. Now there are several combinations of caliper, pad, and disc and some require modifications. The best resource I could find after hours of reading was this comprehensive thread. It lays out alll the combinations available to you, and what works well.

So I found a set of calipers on ebay, and I sent them off to be refurbished with fresh seals and painted in silver. These came back painted up and so I needed to set about locating the rest of the rebuild parts, pads and discs.

I found that the spring clips needed to retain the brake pads from Peugeot were only sold with a set of pads. So I ordered these in with a view to selling the pads on. I also needed two fitting kits consisting of two sliders, rubber boots, bolts and 13mm bolts. Finally I ordered 4 206 gti torx bolts from Peugeot to fit the yokes.

Pad-wise, I decided on Ferrodo DS2500 pads (part no FCP1399H) which I’d used before on the 306 and are an excellent compromise for road and track. These were quite pricey at £110 from Demon Tweeks/Camskill but you realise they really are worth it when you try them.

The upgrade started badly, with me snapping a rear caliper bleed nipple leaving me searching for new new calipers. This was despite soaking the bleed nipples for 2 weeks in WD40, and being extra careful to remove them. They’re just rubbish! So I spend a good hour swapping over a new rear caliper. Now the rear was bleedable I set about test fitting the new front brakes.

Trial fitting showed the yokes of the new calipers fouled on the hub, which wasnt unexpected, but this meant you couldn’t fit both hub bolts and I had to break out the angle grinder. (Check out my protective Aviators!!) To correct the problem, I ground down some of the yoke until it fitted, painted and relaquered the ground area. I fitted the new brake discs and yokes, then broke out the new Ferodo DS2500 race pads and fitted them to the yokes with a bit of copper grease in the appropriate place. With the pads fitted, I built up the caliper using new sliders and bolted the calipers on. I then bled the brakes, removing a lot of air, and the brake pedal firmed up nicely. I was wondering whether I needed to use a GTi-6 or 406 master cylinder, but the pedal currently feels so good that I may not bother.

The bedding in procedure varies depending on who you talk to. Ferrodo recommend 25-30 stops at 50% of pedal pressure for 4-5 seconds. So I took the car for a spirited drive down my favourite local country roads. With the bedding in completed and the lovely whiff of brakes inside the cabin, I let them cool off and tried using them in earnest. The pedal has a little dead travel at the top but the stopping power is infintely much better than the OE setup. The progressive stopping power really inspires confidence, it really is worth all the effort and expense to carry out this upgrade and I recommend it to any GTi owners still on the OE calipers. It has transformed the performance, offering you the ability to press on and pull up smartly. I hope to write back on how they perform at Angelsey next week.

Heads up, new Head unit

Having got annoyed with my current cheapo Pioneer head unit this week (dancing dolphins but no RDS FFS!) I sat down to find out the best iPhone compatible head unit currently available out there.

I spent hours researching the best head unit, and settled on the Alpine IDA-X305. Having had an Alpine stereo in the past, I know they produce quality units and are worth the price premium over other competitors. The main requirement for me was iPhone 3G compatibility and this unit has purportedly the best interface for searching through and playing your music. Check out the youtube clips of the head unit here and here if you’re interested.

There is also an Alpine IDA-X305S model and the only practical difference I can see with this model is that it can interface with a iPhone app (Pandora) and stream music over a 3G data connection to your head unit. Pandora is a very popular Internet Radio streaming service and I was tempted by this as it wasn’t much more than the X305. However Pandora hasve stopped operating in the UK due to licensing issues, making this addition seemingly redundant over here!

This will be my first stereo that doesn’t actually play CDs (so 1990s apparently!) Given I use my iPhone for music exclusively, I am not bothered by this one bit.

Alpine also produce an add-on unit to allow playing your music and phonecall over Bluetooth which would be cool as you can leave your phone in your pocket where mine resides 99% of the time. However I will decide at a later date if its worth the ~£100 investment.

Searching for the cheapest price for the X305 online brought up a shop a few miles from my house, believe it or not, which came in at £10 cheaper than anywhere else. I popped down and bought the unit from Road Radio, a first for me as I usually order all my gadgets online due to the cheaper prices and convenience, but it felt good to actually go into a shop, buy an expensive item and not get ripped off, or at least pay a premium. After buying the unit I got home and then realised I was overcharged £10!! My fault I suppose for not checking it, but hopefully I will get a refund when I go back in.

Anyway, I ripped out out the old stereo and set about installing the new unit, moaning at the complete lack of space behind the 106 dash. I ran the iPhone USB cable from the back of the unit down behind the dash to the centre console area ready to connect up to a iPhone dock sometime in the future.

First impressions are of a slick product, easy to control on the move and tracks are a cinch to select on the iPhone. The sound quality is also much better than the Pioneer.

Pictures of the install:

Loving the Leather

Since I bought the car with a red and grey flecked interior I set about  searching for a half leather interior to smarten up the 106. I found a reasonably priced set approx 40 miles away in excellent condition. The drivers seat had some wear to the leather on one of the bolsters but the set was in such good condition it was a done deal.

I removed the passenger seat and lo Peugeot have decided to use two different style pretensioner plugs under the seat. The consequence of not wiring up them up is that the Airbag light stays lit on the dash.

So to avoid this, I cut the plug off the old seats and crimped a couple of bullet connectors on the wires (couldn’t find my soldering iron at the time!). I cut the plugs off the new seats, discarded them and added a couple of connectors to the seat wire, so I could easily mate up the old plug. I then carefully cable tied to the seats so all the wiring was secure and bolted the seats down (4 torx bolts). I turned on the ignition and the airbag light went out after a second or two, as expected.

The rear seats were very easy to fit, just a couple of bolts on each side and job done, they were installed. I managed to shift on the old seats to the same guy I bought the leather from, who handily picked them up from my garage which was ideal for me.

All thats left is to find a set of matching doorcards and the red and grey flecks will be banished to history.

New motor

So I knew it had to be the 106 gti. Nothing else fitted the requirements. It had to handle as well as my 306 gti, be cheap to buy, cheap to run and fun.

Having had a 306 Gti-6 for 5 years, taken right up to 400bhp over the years, I knew anything would be a step down power-wise, even though the 106 can do 0-60 in less than 7 seconds. However, I realised outright power was only some of the fun, most of my driving is on the daily commute which involves a few stretches of twisty road, the ideal place for a nimble hatch like the 106 GTi.

Parts it seems are far cheaper than the 306 with seemingly one exception, half leather interiors. Second hand engines can be had for £200, sometimes even less, bushes, brakes and drivetrain components are all relatively cheap, and plenty of the electrics and trim parts are generic across the range.

I enquired about a car in High Wycombe, which sounded good, the mileage was 122,000, which is average for the year. I was not worried one bit about the mileage as long as it was regularly serviced and had had frequent oil changes. Too much is made of mileages over 100,000 these days. Most modern engines will run and run, it will be the suspension and paint you need to need to inspect for deterioration.

So I went to view, and it looked very honest. Service book all stamped up, 2 previous owners, smooth engine, rad in decent condition, cambelt recently changed. The paintwork was excellent, no rust or laquer peel, just 2 to 3 dents over the whole of the car. A quick testdrive, revealed the gearbox was fine, no pulls in the suspension and the car was rattle and squeak free. The rear beam also looked fine, no camber or squeaks. The interior was a red/gray cloth combination sadly but I knew I could buy a half leather set and swap them easily.

The car was reasonably priced, but I negotiated £95 off the price and put down a deposit.

I went to collect the following weekend in some of the worst snow for years! We couldn’t make it up the hill in the rear wheel drive BMW 1 Series so I had to walk the last stretch!

The deal was done and I gingerly made it down the hill, making sure I didn’t bin it just after buying the car!

The car felt great on the way home, very spritely.

I parked up at home, headed inside and then heard an alarm going off outside! Yep, good old French electrics! Usual cause of this is the ultrasonics playing up and so the first item on the todo list was created!