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    CUSTOM 2002 Metal wide-body with a 2.7 swap.

    Bought in a state far beyond saving, the only way this #BMW-2002 could survive was to be transformed into something completely different.

    SHOW, NO SHINE Custom, wide-body 2.7 2002 / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Matt Richardson

    It feels like we maybe we should be apologising, again, because for the second month running we’re featuring a 2002 that a lot of people are going to find upsetting. But we won’t be, because we like it too much to care what anyone else thinks. It’s unapologetically a personal project, built solely for the pleasure of its owner, Josh Parker, to hone his skills and then show them off. From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands, with a bit of help from dad along the way, which makes this already spectacular 2002 even more so.

    Josh has always been into cars, he tells us, and it all began at the tender age of 12 when he was given a petrol-powered R/C car and building that set him on path he walks today. After passing his test he was chomping at the bit to get modding on something, though insurance restrictions meant he had to make do with an R56 MINI JCW, spiced up with some coilovers and other bits until he could make his dream of doing a full build come true. The fact that he had no mechanical or motorsport experience was not going to stop him and there was no practice run or warm up before getting this car, he went straight from 0-2002.

    “I bought the car in Thame just over three years ago,” explains Josh, “and it was awful,” he adds, laughing. “It had been off the road since 1989 and was in terrible condition, completely rusty, but because of that I only paid £1200 for it. It took two years to put it together, though in its first form it had a different engine, Golf arches and different wheels. Starting out, I knew nothing about welding or anything like that,” he says, “so the first step was getting it on the road and then, having developed my skills, I knew I could do everything better the second time around so 18 months ago it went through a big change,” and the result of that is what you’re looking at here. “The fact that I wanted to do everything on the car myself was a big influence on how the car has come out, “ he explains, “as I went my own way with it. I spent a year making the chassis strong and replacing stuff. The car was a blank canvas, it was so bad I couldn’t make it any worse,” he laughs. “The whole car looked like Swiss cheese, but at least I got to practice welding. The whole project has been hard, though, it’s taken a long time as I was starting from nothing. I spent a lot of time doing individual things, weeks at a time, and sometimes I needed to take a break, step away, but I never gave up.

    “My decision to change how the car looked came about when I realised that too many people were doing Golf arches, it wasn’t low enough and that I didn’t like the wheels. I decided to pick the wheels I wanted and then built the new, custom arches around them and doing that meant I could go for a really aggressive offset. I chose a set of 7Twenty Style44s in bronze, 9x15” ET0 all-round with 215/50 tyres; I didn’t want too much stretch but needed a bit to get the wheels to tuck under the arches.” The resulting fitment is absolutely perfect, but even with that zero offset Josh is still running 20mm spacers up front and 10mm at the rear, taking the final offset well into the negative. The wheels themselves are certainly handsome, single-piece items with stepped lips and plenty of dish, while the matt bronze finish looks great against the car’s patchwork quilt bodywork.

    Where Josh felt the car wasn’t low enough before there’s no such concern now, with Gaz coilovers delivering a serious drop, but that wasn’t enough for him… “I’ve raised the front and rear strut towers by 40mm to lower it even further,” he grins and the end result is spectacular, the tyres disappearing up into those magnificent arches and the 2002’s belly sitting a hair’s breadth above the ground. The arches themselves are custom metal items measuring a monstrous 60mm wider per side up front and 50mm per side at the rear, giving this 2002 a stance far beyond its diminutive dimensions.

    The brakes have also been comprehensively upgraded, with four-pot Wilwood calipers mounted on custom carriers up front with 260mm drilled and vented discs along with E21 323i hubs, while at the rear you’ll find Mk3 Golf rear calipers matched to Mk1 Golf front discs while Hel braided brake lines have been fitted throughout. You might think that all that brake work seems like overkill for a 2002 but you see it isn’t, because there’s something a bit special going on under the bonnet.

    “I always knew I was going to do an engine swap,” Josh tells us, and what he’s done is taken a low-revving, M20B27 eta engine from BMW’s 325e and 525e models, designed for efficiency, and comprehensively reworked it to better suit his performance-driven needs. Sitting on custom engine mounts, the once-docile 2.7 has been transformed with a 325i top end, M21 forged crank, forged, reground stage one cam, Alpina B3 2.7 chip, a honed intake manifold, 185cc injectors and Magnecor ignition leads. He’s also fitted an M50B25 radiator and added a custom six-branch exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom 2.5” exhaust with twin pipes. It’s an impressive list of mods and it makes for some impressive numbers, with the 2.7 now pushing out 240hp thanks to Josh’s handiwork, which makes this 2002 a real road rocket. Naturally the transmission required a bit of work to make sure it was up to the task of dealing with the 2.7’s grunt and Josh was more than happy to get his hands dirty. “The gearbox itself is a Getrag 260 Sport five-speed on custom mounts with a stage one clutch and I’ve also fitted a 3.64 small case LSD from an E21 with custom-drilled output flanges.”

    The exterior might, at first glance, appear to be a mess to some but there’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. The arches steal the show but there’s also a custom front lip and a custom drag spoiler, custom bash bars and a back-dated rear panel that allowed Josh to fit the arguably much cooler round rear lights. One of our favourite parts of the exterior work, though, is the quick-release front clip, that allows for the entire front end to be removed in a matter of minutes. While it’s designed to allow easy access to the engine for mods and maintenance, seeing a car driving around with no front end is pretty cool. With a race car-inspired exterior you’d expect the theme to carry on inside the car, and you’re not going to be disappointed here. “This car was originally a Lux model,” explains Josh, “so it had a nice, powder blue interior though when I bought the car it was smelly and had started to rot, but I always knew that I was going to strip the interior, I just wanted to have the bare essentials to have the car running,” and he’s certainly stuck to that philosophy. About the only part of the interior that is still recognisable is the ’02 dashboard and instrument cluster but beyond that it’s all change. There’s a big convex Longacre rear-view mirror, single Cobra Sebring Pro seat with a TRS four-point harness, a Momo Model 69 suede steering wheel and a custom switch panel, custom pedal box and there’s also a hydraulic handbrake and a custom dual fulcrum short shifter. “I wanted to feel like I was in a Touring car,” explains Josh, “so I wanted the wheel high and close and a tall gearlever close to the wheel. The cage is actually a historic-spec one for the ’02 that I bought and then modified to make it stronger,” explains Josh. “It just bolts in but I want to make a new cage for it, eight-to-ten point, fully welded-in, which is one of my next big plans.” Meanwhile, in the boot you’ll find a 30-litre aluminium fuel tank with a surge tank, which is fed by one of the two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, the other feeding the engine.

    As much work as has gone into this car over the past three years, it’s only the beginning of what is going to be a much longer journey and Josh’s plans for the car are numerous and substantial. “I want to do a front-mid-engine conversion,” he says matter-of-factly, “I’ve come this far so I might as well keep going,” he laughs, but that’s just scratching the surface. “I’m currently working on a secret E30 project and that’s going to pave the way for the 2002. I want to make the car more useable and more reliable, but no less crazy,” he grins. “I want to iron out the bugs, modernise the underpinnings to make it more enjoyable; for example, currently if I’m taking it to a show and it’s too far, I will trailer it, which takes away from the experience and I want to be able to drive it everywhere.” All this work isn’t just for Josh’s amusement, though, it’s for the benefit of his company, Under Development Motorsport, and some of what he’s made will be for sale there, like his short shift kit. “It’s billet and should fit everything from E21s to E9x models,” he says.

    This 2002 is really an automotive expression of sheer joy and you can feel how much love and enthusiasm Josh has for this car when you talk to him about it. “It’s great to drive something that gets so much attention and that you genuinely built yourself, it’s just a great feeling,” he says with a smile. We can’t wait to see where he takes the ’02 and judging by what he’s achieved here so far, that E30 is going to be something really special too…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body 2.7 #BMW-2002 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-2002-Wide-body / #BMW-2002-Alpina / #BMW-2002-Alpina-2.7 / #7Twenty / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW / #BMW-2002-Alpina-E10

    ENGINE 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 eta / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #M20B27ETA , M21 forged crankshaft, stage one cam, #Alpina-B3-2.7-chip , #K&N cone filter, honed intake manifold, #Magnecor ignition leads, custom engine mounts, 185cc injectors, custom stainless six-branch exhaust manifold, custom 2.5” exhaust with twin blast pipes, fully silicone-hosed cooling system, M50B25 radiator

    TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 / #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, stage one clutch, custom gearbox mounts, E21 3.64 small case #LSD with custom-drilled output flanges

    CHASSIS 9x15” ET0 (front and rear) #7Twenty-Style44 wheels in matt bronze with 215/45 (front and rear) Toyo TR1 tyres, #GAZ-GHA coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #GAZ front camber plates, front and rear strut towers raised 40mm, custom front anti-roll bar relocation and drop links, fully poly bushed and reinforced front and rear subframes, custom rear subframe camber and toe adjustment plates, custom gearbox and exhaust tunnels, reinforced sills and various other chassis bracing throughout, rear strut tower brace, Wilwood four-pot calipers and custom carriers with 260mm drilled and vented discs and E21 323i hubs (front), Mk1 Golf front discs with Mk3 Golf rear calipers and custom caliper carriers (rear), Hel braided brake lines (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Custom metal wide arches, custom front lip, bash bars, custom drag spoiler, custom racing livery, back-dated rear panel work to allow for round rear lights and fuel filler cap delete, custom quick release front clip for fast removal of front-end

    INTERIOR #Cobra-Sebring-Pro seat, TRS four-point harness, #Driftworks quick release hub, #Momo model 69 suede steering wheel, custom dual fulcrum short shift, hydraulic handbrake, custom pedal box, sixpoint bolt-in cage, custom switch panel, 30-litre aluminium race tank in boot with surge tank and twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps

    THANKS Graham, Nicola and Hannah for all the support! All the @76build Instagram followers, all the other people showing love for the 02 and last but not least Thierry and Lewis at Cheers guys.

    “From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands”
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    This BMW-E30 may appear relatively unassuming, but to the trained eye there are clues that all is not as it seems. No-one, however, will be expecting the self-styled 360i’s firepower…


    / #BMW-E30-V8 / #BMW-E30-GM-V8 / #BMW-360i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-360i / #BMW-E30-800bhp / OK, #BMW didn’t make a 360i. But a chap called Ross did and it has two turbos, 800bhp and 5.8-litre engine!

    One of the questions I hear most often is ‘How did you get that in there?’” grins Ross Bradley, standing proudly beside his gleaming Black Cherry E30, exhaust ticking and pinging after another urgent country lane blast. “And that’s exactly the point – you make things fit. They don’t just go in there on their own.” That very much sums up Ross’s outlook on life.

    The joy of the project is as much in the build as the driving. ‘Built, not bought’ is a common phrase on the scene these days. Modifiers who’ve solely achieved their goals in the confines of a single garage with just a cup of tea and a crackly radio for company are rightly proud to wear their achievements on their sleeve. That’s not to sideline the opposing ‘bought, not built’ crowd, of course – we can’t all be experts, and there’s a whole flourishing industry set up to serve such purposes. But Ross’s history is very much hands-on, and that has informed this creation. He fancied doing stuff. Then he did it. It really is that simple.

    “I’ve always been toying with cars ever since I was little, being brought up with my dad building Yanks and hot rods,” he says. “I remember helping my dad build his Ford Pop when I was about seven years old, always doing what I could. With every car I’ve owned I’ve always had to rebuild something, be it the engine or interior for whatever reason, to make it better or make it my own.” And this is the case with the E30. The reasons for calling it a ‘360i’ will become apparent in due course. Suffice to say it’s very far from being a bone-stock 1980s three-box.

    “I always liked the E30,” Ross ponders. “I was going to get one for my first car when I started driving, but was talked out of it due to running and repair costs at the time. This was the late ’90s, so I went the Ford route and ended up having numerous Escort RS Turbos and so on.”

    Fast-forward to 2006, however, and we see that starry-eyed yearning of youth starting to come full circle. “I was out working and I saw this car on someone’s drive,” he recalls. “It had been sat there for about four years – it was a 320i, the body was in pretty good shape, although it had moss growing up the side of it, flat tyres, the usual. I offered the owner some money for it and he took it right away… I bought it for £275.”

    Game on, then. A childhood dream fulfilled and pretty cheaply too. All Ross had to do now was to make it his own. But he wasn’t going to rush into anything, he’d been waiting long enough to realise his E30 ambition so there was no need to charge in like a bull in the proverbial porcelain emporium. He used the car as a daily driver for a few years, doing bits and pieces here and there as he saw fit. New wheels, an M-Tech 2 kit, swapping the 2.0-litre motor for a 2.5. But then it all started to get a bit hairy. Suddenly that idea of doing it ‘cheaply’ wasn’t going to cut the mustard any more. It was time to commit, and commit hard.

    “About four years in I took it off the road and gave it a major overhaul,” he says. “New paint, new interior, suspension, wheels, brakes, the works. And I built the engine into a 2.5 turbo.” Of course, as your eager magpie eye will have probably spotted, that’s not the spec that the car enjoys today. You will no doubt have glanced over to the engine bay shots and spied quite a lot of cylinders in there. So just what the hell happened next?!

    “I used it like that for a few more years, until about four years ago when I again took it off the road and swapped out the motor for the Chevy V8,” says Ross, casually, as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do. “It took me a further two years to build it from there; it was always going to be boosted right from the start - and then I had it on the road until, after a few problems last year with a couple of fires due to burst hoses, oil leaks, and turbos eating bearings, I’d had enough of the niggles. So last winter I took it off the road again and had another major overhaul!”

    OK. While you catch your breath and try to take in the sheer majesty of the spec list, let’s distil it down to the base elements: Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres (near as dammit to six litres, hence why he calls the car ‘360i’) with a massively juicy fuelling system, a pair of turbos that originally called an Iveco truck home, the sort of brutal internals more commonly found on drag cars, and a peak power figure somewhere around the 800bhp mark. Given the 1,300kg-odd kerb weight, that gives the car a similar power-to-weight figure to a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – around 590bhp/tonne. All this from a reliable 3 Series built by one man in his garage.

    “During the most recent overhaul, I remade the exhaust manifolds and downpipes, and replaced the turbos with a set of Holset HX35s, and then got them ceramic coated,” says Ross. “I also sold my old red leather interior and put a new one together, with Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed by Lawrence at LG Trimming in north London.”

    While this car is all-motor on the face of it, the interior is one of our favourite elements. With the astonishing attention to detail going on under the bonnet it’d be easy to turn this E30 into a stripped-out drag monster, jettisoning anything that’d add unsavoury weight.

    So we love that Ross has brightened up his day-to-day commute with such a flawlessly executed and fashion-forward cabin. “With the interior sorted, me and my dad stripped the car down and repainted it in Black Cherry Candy, and after refitting with all new BMW window rubbers and so on it’s now what you see today… all the work apart from the interior was done by me, everything hand-made in my garage. So anything that I needed to make this work, I had to fabricate, as you couldn’t buy it off the shelf – the engine mounts, chopped-out rear end, remade gearbox mounts, you name it.”

    What Ross has created here is arguably the ultimate stealth weapon. Those who aren’t in on the secret may find themselves drawn to the car simply because it’s so beautifully presented. But there’s little to suggest anything’s radically altered aside from the subtle clues of the flared arches and front-mount intercooler. Indeed, peering through the window and spying that interior may convince you that it’s a mere show-pony. “That’s very much not the case,” laughs Ross. “I drive it as much as I can.” And with Bugatti-shaming power, wouldn’t you? It’s safe to say this car gets a pretty hard time on a regular basis.

    “I just love it,” he smiles, with the satisfaction of a job well done.

    “Most of my friends think I’m mental. But you only live once!”

    Ross is running a small-block V8 bored out to 5.8-litres.

    The car has a similar power-to-weight figure as a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

    Recaro CS front seats and an E30 M3 rear bench, all custom-retrimmed.


    You’ve put quite a lot of work into this, then?

    “Yeah, the amount of time I’ve put into it… I couldn’t put into numbers, really. It’s years. Years and years of hard labour!”

    Not really a budget build either, given the massive spec?

    “Ha! No, I’ve always thrown what I’ve got at it. It’s taken everything I have.”

    All plain sailing, though?

    “No real dramas. Couple of fires, turbos letting go, oil leaks… That’s just customising, isn’t it? There were points when I thought ‘It’ll never get done, never see the road,’ but I got it there. You’ve just got to keep pushing, haven’t you?”


    STYLING Resprayed in Black Cherry Candy; rear arches flared and rewelded; M-Tech 2 BMW Sport body kit; front valance modified for intercooler.

    TUNING Early Chevrolet small-block #V8 rebored 0.030in to 5.8-litre; GM forged crank; #ARP main studs; #Eagle H-section forged conrods; #Clevite big end bearings; Probe oversized forged pistons; Melling high-volume oil pump; ported and polished alloy heads; Manley severe-duty stainless steel swirl-polished oversized valves (2.02in inlet, 1.6in exhaust); #Edelbrock valve springs with titanium retainers; Cloyes double roller timing gear and chain; Clevite cam bearings; Comp Cams 256/263-degree blower cam and lifters; Edelbrock magnum chrome moly pushrods; Comp Cams 1.5:1 alloy roller rockers; #Brodix rocker covers, ARP hardware (rocker arm studs, intake manifold bolts, sump bolts, timing cover bolts, engine mount bolts, exhaust header bolts, crank pulley bolts, bellhousing bolts); ARP oil pump driveshaft; custom engine mounts; hand-built custom turbo headers and downpipes; twin Holset HX35 turbos with 12cm² turbines; twin Tial 44mm wastegates; two-stage boost control; handbuilt custom twin 3in turbo-back exhaust with Simons silencer; custom intercooler; Tial 50mm dump valve; Edelbrock Pro-floinlet and matching fuel rails; Pro Comp 90mm throttle body; 770cc injectors; swirl pot with high-flow in-tank lift pump; twin Bosch 044 engine feed pumps; Torques pressure regulator; March serpentine pulley kit; Pro Cool alloy radiator; Megasquirt ECU; Ford Ka coil packs; fully lightened and balanced flywheel and rotating assembly; Toyota Supra Mk3 R154 gearbox with custom Chevy bellhousing adaptor – rebuilt and uprated with Marlin Crawler thrust washer; billet bearing retainer and selector forks; McLeod hydro clutch release bearing; ARP clutch bolts; Spec R Stage 4+ full-face paddle clutch; alloy fluid reservoir; Cube short shifter; custom propshaft; E28 M5 210mm LSD with 3.07 final drive and M3 Evo twinear rear mount; custom rear crossmember; custom driveshafts with UJs; custom gearbox crossmember.

    CHASSIS 9x17in #ET25 (front) and 10x17in ET20 (rear) #Hartge polished three-piece wheels; 215/40 (f) and 235/40 (r) #Federal-RSR tyres; custom billet aluminium centre caps; modified front crossmember for engine clearance; reinforced rear beam; E36 M3 front anti-roll bar with custom mounts and rose-jointed droplinks; reinforced rear trailing arms; custom rear strut brace tied into custom rear diff mounting bar; #Gaz-GHA coilovers; #GAZ adjustable front top mounts; stainless steel steering linkage joints and custom linkage; steering rack moved 20mm forwards; alloy power steering reservoir and custom lines; in-car brake servo conversion using Renault Clio servo; VW Sharan brake master cylinder; AP Racing six-pot front callipers and 330mm discs; five-lug conversion using E36 and Z3 hubs; Porsche Brembo six-pot rear callipers; Apec Z3 rear discs.

    INTERIOR Full custom retrim in Ruby Red nappa leather and black Alcantara; Recaro CS front seats with custom rails; E30 M3 rear bench in nappa leather with quilted design; doorcards in black Alcantara with quilted nappa leather inserts; dash, centre console, glovebox, handbrake, gear gaiter and roof lining in black Alcantara with matching stitching – by Lawrence at LG Trimming in Enfield, London.

    THANKS Thanks to Shaun at V8 Developments for the wiring and mapping; Dad for helping me paint it; and Lawrence at LG Trimming for the retrim.
    • While you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-tuWhile you lot usually love to hate anything wearing a BMW badge that doesn’t have a BMW engine under the bonnet, in the case of Ross Bradley’s twin-turbo Chevrolet V8-engined E30, you just loved it as it is your 2016 Performance BMW Car of the Year.

      The engineering that’s gone into building this absolute beast of a machine, all of it done by Ross himself, is both mind-blowing and eye-watering in equal measure. The fully built, rebored Chevy small block V8 now sits at 5.82-litres and has been bolstered with a pair of Garrett T04E turbos resulting in a staggering 880hp. Fully polished 17” three-piece Hartges sit under widened rear arches, there’s a fully removable carbon bonnet, while the red Sport interior adds a bold splash of colour. You might not approve of that V8 swap, but this is such an impressive build that it’s impossible to hate.
        More ...
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    / #Peugeot-205GTi / #Peugeot-205 / #Peugeot / #1984 /

    Gee McDaid’s exceptionally clean 205 may look like a clean standard car, but delve a little deeper and it starts to get rather special.


    It may look like a show car, but Gee McDaid built this perfect Peugeot 205 for blasting around the B-Roads… Words & Photos: Steve McCann.

    When Peugeot launched the 205 GTi back in 1984 they led with a James Bond style advert, having the hot hatch parachuted into a snowy mountain range, shot down by a jet and chased by another huge plane while it slid furiously along ice and sideways down the slippery slopes avoiding explosions. Sure, it may have seemed more appropriate with an Aston Martin but regardless the message was clear, this was a driver’s car built for driving hard on the edge, a small car with a big personality. Fortunately, that’s how Gee McDaid saw it too. He fell in love with the 205 back in the day and that feeling has never left him. “I remember having a 205 pencil case at school so I guess it started then,” Gee laughs, “But my first experience of the real thing was a test drive years ago. The guy selling the car really pushed it to the limit and the 205 came alive, I knew immediately I had to have it!” From then on, he’s pretty much always had one. Until that point Gee had owned a lot of Fords, starting with a few Fiestas, then onto Escorts and an Orion. His love of cars in general was down to his older brother who used to pay Gee to clean his cars. At first he didn’t see the point, just the colour of the money, but soon discovered cleaning cars gives you an appreciation of them too. “It must have struck a chord as ironically, I now have my own detailing business,” Gee smirks, “As a kid I was getting paid to clean cars and now I still am.”

    You can already see where this is going, a true driving enthusiast who is equally obsessive over car cleanliness. Is it possible to strike a balance and have a super mint motor that gets driven hard? Well, judge for yourselves….

    “I really didn’t plan to go anywhere near this far with the 205.” Gee explains, “I just wanted to build something fun for the road that handled well, but it just evolved this way as I couldn’t help myself.” What Gee means is that his perfectionist nature and cleaning obsession wouldn’t allow him to cut any corners or settle for anything less than the best when it came to this 205 project and to be fair, that’s not really a bad thing!

    The initial idea was to find a solid base car, fit a bigger engine, clean it up a bit and off we go. So, in 2012 Gee sourced a 1992 1.6GTi that had been parked up for a couple of years but was otherwise ok. He was even able to drive it home so was off to a good start. The initial proper inspection verified it was the right car, but Gee wanted to do some light repairs to the floor and get it undersealed. He felt the easiest way to do this was remove the engine (it was getting replaced anyway) and stick the 205 on a spit. Gee didn’t have a spit of his own but he does have some welding skills so made one! “The trouble is, once you get a car on a spit, that’s it, you have to go the whole way,” Gee explains. So, the 205 was indeed stripped to a bare shell with the floor repaired, chassis legs stitch welded and strengthened before the whole underside was treated to four blue base coats and six coats of lacquer! Once this was done and bits were being bolted back into place Gee’s OCD kicked in big style. He just couldn’t face putting anything back on the car that wasn’t renewed, repainted or powder-coated. Even tiny bolts and fixings, they all had to be replaced with new items. While all this was going on, progress was made in other areas.

    A Peugeot 309 GTi was picked up for parts and Gee got a Christmas present from his wife Lynsey that all guys would appreciate – a Citroen Xsara! Thankfully, this wasn’t a driving alternative; it was donor car number two. As it turned out, both these vehicles would prove to be very resourceful for the project. The 309 was relieved of its complete rear axle which was of course stripped, with parts painted and powder-coated before being rebuilt and fitted to the 205. As well as giving a wider track, this provided the back end with a brake disc conversion. Wishbones and the anti roll bar were also taken from the 309 and along with various new parts such as polybushes, uprated mounts and the fantastic GAZ coilovers and dampers, the suspension set-up was a winner!

    When it came to the powerplant, Gee was tempted to use the donor car 309 engine which turned out to be a 2.0 8V in the process of having a turbo conversion. However, he decided it against it. “I wanted the car to be as useable and reliable as possible,” Gee tells us, “so for that reason, the tried and tested 2.0 16v was a better option.” This is where the Xsara VTS comes in. It’s more common to see this kind of conversion done with a 405 Mi16 engine but Gee reckons that most of those around require a rebuild whereas the Xsara 2.0 16v (same as the 306 GTi-6 unit) may be heavier but it’s newer, has slightly more power and has better parts availability. As you would expect, there was no chance this lump was going anywhere near the 205 until the engine bay was prepped and painted. Also, the new engine had to be cleaned, painted and have the head ported and polished before fitment.

    All the essentials were done at this stage too like the timing belt, fitting a new head gasket and replacing various seals and hoses. The Xsara gearbox was retained but reconditioned first and to cap it off a new Valeo clutch was added to the mix. It was all looking good but there were a few obstacles to clear before the transplant was hailed a success. The donor Xsara ECU and loom had been scrapped so another was found from a GTi-6 but took days to sort and solder. Finally, these engines have clearance issues that many solve by cutting holes in the bulkhead or modifying mounts but Gee decided to get creative. He cut and re-welded part of the exhaust manifold and it did the job perfectly, leaving a real factory finish under the bonnet.

    With potent power, improved braking and a handling set-up to satisfy the side of Gee that demanded a quick, planted, fun car, it was time to address the cosmetic aspect. Overall he was looking for a subtle look, something close to how Peugeot intended, hiding the real animal underneath and that’s exactly how it turned out. Inside the cabin, the existing grey door cards remain but the Goodwood leather interior from the 309 slotted straight in with a bit of a squeeze. The seats are slightly wider but look right at home here. On the outside the bodywork received a fresh coat of Miami Blue paint and remains completely standard other than the mouldings. “I hate that plastic trim,” Gee explains “I have to clean that kind of stuff on a daily basis and it ain’t fun so I smoothed and painted mine in a metallic grey instead.” It was an inspired move as it looks fantastic against the blue and matches the refurbed 15in Speedlines painted in the same graphite colour. Small finishing touches that really make a difference are the replacement of all the glass, mirrors, headlights, spotlights, indicators and badges with new items. “I tried not to replace all these things,” laughs Gee “there was nothing wrong with lots of the original parts but it just had to be done.”

    The end result looks stunning, but does it tick all the show and go boxes for Gee? “You can never be 100% happy and finished with a car, there’s always something that can be done.” Gee tells us, “But I absolutely love it and although I do like to keep the 205 clean, that side of me never gets in the way of using it as I always intended.” It’s true, this is a man who works extremely hard at his business (Pristine Machine is always fully booked for months in advance) so when he gets a day off and the weather is nice, Gee really makes the best of it and heads up into the beautiful back roads of Scotland, even as far as the Highlands to enjoy the car, the scenery and the escape. “It just drives as I had hoped, it’s got plenty of power with fantastic handling and has been faultless for the thousands of miles I’ve covered.” We think that pretty much answers the question then, it seems it is possible to have the best of both worlds.

    Leather seats are straight out of a Goodwood edition 309GTi. For many Miami Blue is the ultimate 205 GTi colour, we’d be inclined to agree.

    Lee McDaid

    A massive inspiration for Gee during this project was his son Lee who sadly passed away in 2010 at the heartbreaking young age of 11. The build helped occupy Gee through extremely difficult times. He had a few 205s before this one and Lee just loved his passenger runs. December 2015 would have been Lee’s 17th birthday and the 205 would have been his present. RIP Lee.


    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.0 16v Xsara VTS engine conversion, ported and polished head, Group N engine mounts, re-angled and heat wrapped equal length manifold, cylindrical air filter, BBM silicone coolant pipes with alloy thermostat adapter, #Taco modified dual speedo drive with 405 cable, 306 GTi-6 loom and ECU, Xsara battery box, Sound of Silence custom stainless steel exhaust system, Xsara VTS BE3 box, new #Valeo clutch kit, Group N mounts, competition adjustable linkages.

    SUSPENSION: Rebuilt and lowered 309 GTi rear beam, Xsara VTS ARB, Group A rear beam mounts, #GAZ-GHA adjustable rear dampers, seam welded subframe, 309 GTi #ARB with polybushes, 309 GTi wishbones with polybushes, #GAZ GHA adjustable coilovers with 250 lbs springs, Group N top mounts, Xsara VTS power steering rack and pump.

    WHEELS: 6x15in #Speedlines acid dipped, shot blasted, polished lip and painted metallic grey. Toyo R888 soft compound cut slicks.

    BRAKES: Fully rebuilt 288mm front brakes, #Mintex 1144 pads, Stainless steel braided flexi pipes, 309 GTi rear disc conversion, 309 GTi servo and master cylinder, all brake and fuel pipe and clips replaced.

    EXTERIOR: Bodywork repainted in original Miami blue including door shuts and floor pans, trims and mouldings smoothed and painted metallic grey, red alloy trim repaired and painted original colour, Clio rear wiper, new lights, new indicators, new spotlights, new aerial and new badges, paintwork wet sanded to remove orange peel and fully detailed, bare metal floor, stitch welded front legs, fully seam sealed, undersealed, underside painted and lacquered in original colour, seam welded and painted engine bay.

    INTERIOR: 309 GTi Goodwood full grey leather, all new bronze tinted glass inc mirrors.

    THANKS: My awesome wife Lynsey for putting up with all the hours I spent and for the donor car. Kev and John at KMbodyworx, Patrick at Max Marine, Robert and the boys at Autotec, Jamie T, Mark Wilson, Joe Blow and Aldo. Pristine Machine Vehicle Detailing (Port Glasgow).

    Xsara 2.0 16V engine is the same as the one fitted to the Pug 306 GTi-6, so it’s kind a keeping it in the family.
    Gee’s near-obsessive attention to detail means that the underside is as clean as the topside. Now that’s dedication!

    When did you last see a 205GTi on the roads, let alone one as clean as this?

    “I just wanted to build something fun for the road that handled well, but it just evolved this way as I couldn’t help myself.”
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