Condition: Straight, but you won’t worry about every scratch
Advert: Letchworth Motor Auctions
With the Festival of the Unexceptional looming, you may be in a panic because your project isn’t going to be ready and you can’t stand the thought of being banished to the modern corner of the car park.
Well, we are here to help, with an exceptionally unexceptional car which could cost less than the price of a respray on your other classic and appears to only need a light amount of fettling.
We’ve been keeping an eye on this Peugeot 309 for a few weeks now, as it appeared in the listings of a well-known Citroën specialist – Chevronics – as part of a deceased estate disposal. After failing to get a bite at £1995 the dealer has put it in to the next classic sale at Letchworth Motor Auctions, where it has an estimate of £750 to £1500.
The 309 was a bit of an oddity even when it was new, being sandwiched in between the 205 and 405, which were unarguably the prettiest cars in their classes. This Golf-rivalling hatch was dowdy in comparison and was originally designed to be a Talbot to replace the Horizon. When the brand was killed off, the car was hastily rebadged.
This particular 309 was registered in October 1993, making it one of the last of its kind. The slinkier 306 had been launched seven months earlier, so it’s likely this car spent a few months unloved in a storage depot before the first owner was persuaded to buy it.
The sportier versions of the Peugeot 309 are highly regarded and this one is fitted with the same 113bhp 1.6-litre injected petrol engine fitted to the 205 GTI. But any hope of fun will soon be dispelled as the engine is mated to an auto gearbox. Our usual sources seem to disagree on whether it’s a three or four speed, but either way it’s not going to provide the most thrilling of driving experiences.
To emphasise that this is a cruiser rather than a racer there’s a clock in place of the usual rev counter, presumably because you won’t care about the engine speed when you can’t do anything about changing gear yourself. The clock’s usual place is taken by an enormous warning light for the engine temperature.
What’s remarkable about this example is its originality. It still has the correct wheel trims, dealer stickers and even the most prized dealer fit accessory – a heckblende. This is a plastic panel which is supposed to match the tail-light lenses and stretches between the rear lamp units to make them look like a continuous feature across the width of the car. The salesman must’ve been pretty convincing in this case though, as the heckblende was clearly meant for a pre-facelift car and it doesn’t match this later run-out 309 at all.
The ‘luxuries’ don’t stop there, as the GL-spec Peugeot 309 comes with electric windows in the front and a huge glass roof which cleverly seals itself using an inflatable tube. Flipping the handle down depressurises a rubber ring and the roof slides. Squeeze it again and the ring of rubber inflates and the glass panel is held in place and watertight.
The bodywork looks very smart too, with a healthy shine to the metallic grey paint and no obvious signs of rust. The underneath has been undersealed to halt the corrosion noted in the MoT in 2016.
Although the car is said to run and drive well, it hasn’t seen an MoT bay since 2017 and has been in storage for the past five years, so will need going through carefully to make sure nothing has deteriorated or gummed up before putting in for a test.
We’d also advise a cambelt change and maybe swap the rag-tag assortment of budget tyres for some newer rubber made by a company you’ve heard of.
All easy(ish) stuff which is quite good fun for the average home mechanic. Then you’ll be able to park up with pride at the Festival and listen in as like-minded fans coo excitedly at your heckblende and bore their partner with tales of how the 309 shared its doors with the 205.
Check out the Hagerty Media homepage for daily news, features, interviews and buying guides, or better still, bookmark it.