Peugeot 206 GT, a youngtimer with a worldwide appeal
Author: Michele Di Mauro · Credits Ph: Michele Di Mauro5 April 2022
Born to homologate its “wicked sister” in the WRC, where it would in the event win more titles, the 206 GT is an easy, fun and exclusive – yet still accessible – youngtimer. A beautiful example for sale on Agorauto provides the ideal excuse to tell its story.
We are on the cusp of the new millennium, and the small Peugeot 205 have revolutionised the stylebook of the French manufacturer in recent decades. An incredibly successful and long-lived model, it is by now however feeling the weight of years. Something new is needed in order to make the leap into the new millennium, and Peugeot therefore launched its long-awaited successor in 1998: a small, sportily styled car which, predictably, was named the 206; it would become one of the Lion’s most popular models, and many will remember the advertisement featuring the Indian fan who builds one for himself using an anvil and a hammer.
The 206, which would remain on the catalogue until 2012 (in Iran, where it was produced under licence, it continued until 2020) with approximately 10 million units, marked the debut of Peugeot’s new stylistic language and reworded in updated form the salient traits of the 205, the model that it aimed to replace, while retaining its base concept.
Just like the 205, the new model was available in the inevitable GTI sports version, powered by a two-litre, 16-valve engine generating 136 horsepower, making it capable of sprinting from 0 to 100 in 8.4 seconds and reaching 210 km/h. Furthermore, just like its predecessor, a joyous sporting career was also on the cards for the 206. Who doesn’t remember the monstrous 205 Turbo 16 from those glorious Group B days?
When the 206 was being readied for the race track, or rather, the dirt roads, a problem arose: in order to be homologated as a WRC car for the World Rally Championship, it had to have a minimum length of 4 metres. The GTI was too short, at a mere 3.82 metres.
The French technicians did not lose heart, however, and a solution was found, by creating a new version with modified bumpers, which protruded much more than on the 206 GTI. The next step was to produce 4000 units in production configuration, the minimum amount necessary in order to qualify for the championship: a task which would allow the 206 WRC to participate in the world championship from 1999 to 2003 with drivers the likes of Gilles Panizzi, François Delecour, Didier Auriol, Harri Rovanperä and Richard Burns, and to carry off two driver’s titles, with Marcus Gronholm in 2000 and 2002, and three consecutive constructor’s titles, from 2000 to 2002.
That same year, the Peugeot 206 GT (“Grand Tourisme”, without the “I”), a special, rare version, was listed on the catalogue, created for sporting purposes and now much sought after by collectors. An instant classic which has largely broken through the 20-year age threshold and is therefore rightfully listed under the youngtimer category.
In addition to the bumpers, which give that version a decidedly aggressive look, the GT differs from the GTI due to the design of its 16” alloy wheels (compared to the 15” rims on the GTI) and the identification plate on the central pillar which bears the vehicle’s serial number. Like the mechanicals, which remain completely unchanged, roadholding remains the same as that of its GTI sister, with the exception of the Low profile tyres on 16” rims: brilliant, but not exasperating, and enjoyable in all conditions.
The story of its racing sister is quite different: 300 declared horsepower, 0-100 in approximately 4 seconds and a variable maximum speed depending on the running surface, be it earth, tarmac or gravel, four-wheel drive and a five- or six-gear sequential gearbox. But now, we are on another planet.
In the years that followed, the development of the 206 production range would witness further evolutions to the two-litre, four-cylinder engine, producing 177 horsepower on subsequent RC and GTI180 versions. These engines might wrest the title of “baddest” 206 from the GT, but not its title as the most exclusive, both because only limited and numbered vehicles were produced, and because of its illustrious offspring.
In fact, the Grand Tourisme is without a doubt the 206 to collect and place in your garage, before prices rise any further. It is even better if it is priced accessibly like the example in the photographs, for sale on Agorauto. But beware of fakes, which have been around for a new years now: authentic GT bear the initials WRC on their registration certificate. A little “extra feature” which makes this unusual version even more interesting and special.