There are certain traits that tend to make cars more exciting to UK enthusiasts. One of those is that of the homologation special, those cars produced for the sole purpose of fulfilling motorsport competition regulations. Because, well, everybody loves a racing car - especially a successful one - and so if there's a road car available with a tangible link to one then we're going to be interested.
The second trait likely to get fast car fans in Britain all giddy is being left-hand drive only. Yes, it's impractical, but to us it tends to look exotic; forbidden fruit on four wheels that we probably shouldn't have, yet are very glad that we do. Think BMW E30 M3, Lancia Delta Integrale, Ford GT and so on.
Now, while the European 205 Rallye doesn't quite conform to those rules - because it was never officially offered in the UK - the opportunity to buy one over here is too good an opportunity to pass up. It was only ever left-hand drive, it was built specifically for 1,300cc rallying and, if anything, its stellar reputation was only ever helped by the limp right-hand drive equivalent offered in the UK.
Come to think of it, that XR drag queen of a Rallye was about as bad as the breed ever got - the rest were all superb. Both the 106s and the solitary 306 version were fantastic cars, lighter and even wilder than their GTI brethren, and there's an argument to say this little 205 conforms to that belief as well. So much of the 205 GTI legend is in its immediacy and flighty agility, yet here is a car that's 100kg lighter than a 1.6. The Rallye's kerb weight is 794kg; the lightest dry weight of an Elise Cup 250 is 860kg. Furthermore, while both GTIs use fuel injected engines, the Rallye has the old school, boisterous charm of twin Weber carbs. Power is very close to the 1.6 GTI at 103hp, it so will feel comfortably quicker with the substantial weight loss.
The Rallye's reputation amongst a select few, plus the obvious rarity of being import-only, and the appreciation of GTIs, means they're worth a pretty penny. Especially good ones like this, recently brought over from Spain and with just 38,000 miles recorded. Work undertaken and mentioned in the ad includes new tyres, filters, oil and plugs, as well as a respray six years ago and a reupholstered interior. While it would be hoped that all Rallyes that have made it this far have been reasonably well looked after, this must be one of the best.
Need further convincing? We spoke to a former Rallye owner (who now has an Integra Type R - nice work Nick) who described it as "special" - no surprise there - saying it has the sense "of driving something with a purpose, even when you just pop to the shops". Naturally the twin carb set up came in for praise (even if setting them up can be tricky), as well as Peugeot's recent recognition of the 205 as a classic making parts easier to come by. So while words like "brittle", "thin" and "niche" are also used around the car, the Rallye certainly ticks a lot of boxes for those sufficiently committed.
Which is all rather skirting around the subject somewhat: it's £17,995. For those who can remember not being able to give away 205 GTIs, that figure will be astonishing. But it's really a reflection of how the market stands; this automatic CTI with more miles than the Rallye is on sale at £15k...
So although it's a lot of money for not a lot of car, the 205 Rallye must surely be one of the best examples of how exciting these cars from the past now seem. Stripped out road racers never seem to sell well new because of how uncompromising they are - see the Megane R26.R, M3 CSL and Series 1 106 Rallye - yet become revered in time when buyers realise such cars won't happen again. The 205 Rallye is one of the rawest and most intense there was, so don't be surprised to find it even more in demand as time passes.
SPECIFICATION - PEUGEOT 205 RALLYE
Engine: 1,294cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 103@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 89@5,000rpm
First registered: 1990
Recorded mileage: 38,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £17,995
See the original advert here.