Henry Catchpole: Peugeot 205 GTi Tolman Edition

by Hagerty
17 August 2023

The Peugeot 205 is 40-years young in 2023 and this episode of The Driver’s Seat seemed like a very good way to mark that significant birthday. The 205 GTi is perhaps the quintessential hot hatch and this is now perhaps the ultimate version of the car. Chris Tolman of Tolman Motorsport originally restored a 1.6 GTi for himself but lightly updated it in the process to produce more power than a 1.9. This second Tolman Edition, however, takes things a big step further.

This is a 1.9 with a ported 16-valve head and new cams. There is also a new exhaust, a fly-by-wire throttle and a bespoke ECU. A competition clutch and Quaife ATB limited-slip differential help translate the resultant 200bhp and 160lb ft of torque to the road, while the brakes from AP racing help slow everything down again. The Bilstein dampers, with Tolman’s own tune, keep things fun but less unruly than the original had a tendency to be.

Despite all the mechanical improvements, the look is very much standard both outside and in. No big arches or bonnet bulges here. Even the new exhaust has the same turned down shape as the original. Inside, you still have the scratchy plastics and the original seats. The memories come flooding back as soon as you get in. Some Alcantara on the wheel seems to be the only change. Until, that is, you turn the ignition on and the digital dashboard comes to life.

The MoTec screen has perfect facsimiles of the original red and white dials and they look fantastic. But it gets better, because if you press the button with a Peugeot Sport logo on and hold it for five seconds, then the dials change to those of a 205 T16 Group B rally car! They really are so much fun.

A Tolman Edition will set you back anything from £55,000 (plus donor car) to well over double that for a car like this one. It’s a lot of money for a little hot hatch, but each one goes back to a bare shell for its restoration and in the world of restomods, it still looks like a relative bargain compared to many others.

Which other hot hatches would you like to see receive the restomod treatment? A Golf GTi? A Renault Clio? Let us know in the comments down below.


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