Apart from a few minor appearances of a red Renault Clio, I don’t usually use this blog to write about anything other than cars with removable roofs, but today I’m going to break with this tradition. You see, today is an important day in my car history. As R489 ACK drove off yesterday afternoon, it marks the first day in over six years that I’ve been without a French-made hatchback of some kind with the iconic Peugeot Sport decals on its flanks.
For those that are still unaware, it means that since buying S128 MKV in September 2006, it’s the first time I’ve not had a Rallye registered in my name.
I don’t know what it was back then, but something made me buy that car, a Bianca White 106 Rallye on a fairly rare S plate, quite spontaneously. I’d vowed never to buy a French car, but as I was driving a Clio at the time that was already negated. And so I handed over £2700 for a car that would kick start a lot of the things that interest me today.
Although MKV, under it’s new alias of S11 TLO, would later turn out to be completely rotten, it was the car that got me into car clubs, road trips and track days. As much as it was a dog, I will always thank it for that. It slowly progressed over a couple of years from chav chariot to something much more suitable. It will hold memories of my first ever track session at Zandvoort in Holland and laps of the Nurburgring in the snow to snapping the clutch cable near the Scottish border and bouncing around uncontrollably over Dartmoor with the rear suspension sat on the bumpstops. All in all, with a Lands End to John O’Groats trip and a return to it’s spiritual home in Sochaux under it’s belt, it was good times all round.
MKV wasn't the purist's choice when I got hold of it...
Didn't take long to break it, just chose to happen around 600 miles from home!
The steels lasted a while with a refurb to freshen up the look
I had the car looking as I wanted it, which meant more money for trips abroad
Before we hit the Nurburgring, there was time for some messing about in the snow in the Eifel forest
The blingy wheels' days were numbered
...but it was worth the struggle up to the top of Scotland
...but it was always Cyclones and a rear end lift that I wanted
My first track time came with a visit to Zandvoort in Holland
With damp conditions, the track was all ours for formation photography
Pretty much how MKV ended up
Though a set of multicolour Speedlines were an extra bit of fun
When it came to replacing such a car, there was one logical answer which I was unable to overlook. Intent on finding a 306 GTi6, as soon as I came across a 306 Rallye, in the Bianca White shade that I knew and loved, and with a special history, I knew it was the car for me. Now, I knew S891 OAC had covered a lot of miles, and with a Revs magazine front cover in it’s early days showing it two feet in the air, I knew it had been worked hard! But it was a fastidiously maintained piece of Peugeot heritage, the original press car from the 306 Rallye launch. It had even appeared on Channel 4 at the hands of Penny Mallory, yet I have never been able to trace any footage of that. The car stayed with me for a year, was given one opportunity on my favourite track in the Eifel mountains and after attempting to shed it’s rear suspension and ultimately being a slight disappointment over the 106, had to go. It’s since passed through another owner, though I’m still kept up to date by it’s current owner and it’s still just as looked after and cherished, just what I’d wanted.
Nothing says cool like your car on a magazine cover
It was put through it's paces at the only place suitable
The 306 stayed standard and clean for a short time
I always liked the 'white on white' look
Meanwhile, there was a brief fling with a S1 106 Rallye, N682 TNV was borrowed at any point I could make an excuse to use it whilst my brother was using it to learn to drive. A tidy little N reg model, bought fairly locally and still in the south west to date. Fitted with a standard 1.3 TU2J2, the car was a laugh a minute, strapped into the Sabelt harnesses with it’s perfectly precise feel, it really did feel like a rally car for the road. Ultimately, the non motorway friendly gear ratios and the more dated looks meant there was only really one option for the 306’s replacement.
TNV was something a bit different, but again, nothing but fun
OZ alloys gave it a dark sinister look
And it didn’t take me long to find it either. In fact, on the ferry home from that trip I was already emailing the seller of a car I knew I had to have. So only two weeks after my return I found myself on a one way Easyjet flight to Newcastle to pick up a well known car in the 106 Rallye world, commonly known as RACK. It was, until now, the only S2 Rallye in Onyx Black with the original engine in the UK and I was buying it ‘unseen’ as such.
This wasn’t my first encounter with RACK though. I had seen the car a few times before with previous owners and my desire to own it had come from not being quick enough the first time round, two years before, even before the 306 came on the scene.
RACK, having formerly been known as M TJ2599 before it was imported from Bavaria, is naturally left hand drive, which called for not only many comedy moments in the McDonalds drive thru, but made the car perfectly suitable for my growing obsession with driving abroad. And that’s just what I did. In between various UK shows and a couple of days thrashing the tread off donated budget tyres at Llandow, RACK ended up in Rheinland Pfalz no fewer than five times. With it’s trusted Bilstein suspension and a 266mm brake setup squeezed behind the steels it soon started to give me my best lap times to date and in the meantime started it’s well known party piece... it became a ‘Ring tradition to go out on the Nordschleife four-up, and even eventually, a full car of five!
Further afield, the car ended up completing one of my long time goals, driving a lap of the Monaco GP circuit and along the way racked up miles on some of the best roads through the Alps and over the tallest road bridge in the world at Millau. I even drove it through the coastal areas of Holland all in the quest of picking up a LHD carpet for free. It was well worth it! Later on that year I splashed out on some brand new wheels, something I had to have to complete the perfect Rallye for me, £600 worth of shiny anthracite Speedline SL434s, almost the holy grail of Peugeot wheels. All that was left to do was to enjoy the car and have as much fun as I possibly could in it.
Now right up to date, it was time to say goodbye to a car I’ve really loved. Sure, the S2000 is my all time dream car and is a much better all rounder, but RACK set the bar very high. It may rattle and squeak and drone along the motorways, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in a car, it was pretty much reliable, despite the stick that Peugeots usually get and it was cheap to run. 35mpg round the Green Hell and a new set of discs for £24 is not to be sniffed at!
RACK is now set to lose a part of it’s identity, the number plate that gave rise to it’s name. It’ll always still be RACK, but it’s about to get it’s third logbook in it’s third different country as it’s new owner takes it back to the Pyrenees and with that the Onyx Black S2 count will drop to just two in the UK.
You see, MKV had met RACK before...
Bringing RACK home over Woodhead Pass
The four-up laps became stuff of legends
Many comedy moments occured...
Prescott Hill Climb was a once a year venture
The Speedlines really transformed the stance of the car, money well spent
Yet more four-up fun!
A final trip to Nurburg signalled the end in sight
And Llandow was an opportunity to really have a thrash, not worrying about the tyres!
Only the finest Italian alloy would do
The Col de Turini was a spectacular sight
...and a chance to prove that a Rallye could be an off roader too!
So there you go, six years worth of memories, it’s been fun, but it had to end somewhere and I’m glad it’s ended with owning the Rallye I always wanted and now owning the S2000 I always wanted.
Indigo Blue one next to complete the collection then...?