Okay, I’m a bit of a blagger, always have been, and back in 1997 when I was barely out of my teens I somehow managed to talk a dead friendly Peugeot salesman into lending me the keys to a brand new 106 GTi for a couple of hours. Seeing as I was smoking around in a ratty old Fiesta at t he time, those frenzied 120 minutes opened up my mind to a whole new world of speed, handling and, above all, fun. I don’t think that the tyres on that particular GTi ever recovered…
It was a bit of a golden age when Peugeot launched the 106 back in 1991. Manufacturers were making massive improvements in performance and chassis design yet the cars were still yet to be weighed down with all the safety gubbins and equipment that now comes as standard. The Mk1 106 always felt light on its feet, with the ultra nimble Rallye and XSi models being the real stars.
When the Phase II 106 came along in 1996 it was hard to resist its cheeky good looks and promise of a cracking drive, and with a sweet mix of easy to insure and fast as fook models us modders have always loved ‘em.
You can learn a helluva lot about how a pukka FWD motor handles by razzing down a challenging road in a 106. Feeling exactly how much front end grip you’ve got via the delicate steering and even bringing the rear end into play are all part of the fun, and sorting the chassis with a few well chosen mods only heightens the experience.
All stock 106s ride in the clouds, so bring ’em straight back down to earth with a decent slam job for starters. Strut braces add some extra strength, and featherweight rims can reduce the unsprung weight. Tidy.
Compared to more modern machinery, on the inside of a 106 things are pretty basic – but in a way that’s a big part of their appeal. If you look at it from the point of view that there are less things to go wrong and fewer fripperies to distract you from the driving experience then you’re onto a winner.
A whole host of 106s have been taken down the leather and lushness Euro route over the years, but for me they are built to be used, and used hard. A motorsport theme inside will win plenty of brownie points, with buckets, harnesses, flocking and even a roll cage getting a double thumbs up.
Engine-wise, you can almost divide 106 owners up into two groups. If you’ve only had your license a short time then there are a whole host of smaller engines available that your insurance company won’t run away from when you try to get a quote. The 60bhp 1.1-litre lump is a good pick, but if you can afford it the 75bhp 1.4 in the GTi-lookalike Quiksilver is the one to have.
If you don’t give a shit about your premium then it’s a Rallye or a GTi all the way. Throttle bodies have always been the dream mod, but sorting the breathing out, cams and a remap shouldn’t be sniffed at.
During the 1990s, Peugeot found it virtually impossible to design a bad looking car, and the 106 was one of their most successful shapes ever. And this means that us modders can only improve the looks of what is already a proper corker of a motor.
As with most hatches you look to the range topping models for ideas, and the subtle kits of the Quiksilver, GTi and Rallye provide all the aggression you could need. Debadging and smoothing the front and rear ends is always a trick touch, while fitting an understated splitter or smoked light unit will undoubtedly win friends.
FIRST PROJECT – MK.1 106 1.1 XN
Engine: 1124cc; 60bhp
Max speed: 99mph
Insurance group: 4
Price range: £350-£750
PERFECT PROJECT – MK2 QUIKSILVER
Engine: 1360cc; 75bhp
Max speed: 109mph
Insurance group: 5
Price range: £500-£3000
ULTIMATE PROJECT – MK2 106 GTI
Engine: 1587cc; 120bhp
Max speed: 128mph
Insurance group: 13
Price range: £1500-£3500
We might not be massive fans of the French but we just lurve their motors and the Pug 106 is one of the best. Snappy handling and relatively cheap to buy, they’re born to be ragged and it’ll bring a smile to your face every time you do. The 106 is one of the best ever hot hatches and well worth a look, especially if you happen to be on a budget!