1 Feb 2013

The original, and best, hot hatches. How much do they cost now

The term hot hatch gets bandied about a lot.  It first came into use with the introduction of the Mk1 Golf GTi - which had such a stiff chassis it could lift an inside rear wheel whilst cornering.   'Hot hatch' aptly described a lot of the competition which followed the Golf GTi - a half decent engine in a lightweight hatchback with crisp steering and stiff suspension.

Hot hatches grew bigger, more powerful, heavier, faster and got stolen so much they cost a bomb to insure (you could get into a Mk1 Golf with a hairpin).  The essence of the hot hatch has been diluted over the past 3 decades.  The new breed of so-called hot hatches - the Peugeot 208 GTi, Renault Clio 200 Turbo and Fiesta ST - all have around 200bhp and weigh as much as a house.  They use chassis engineering and electronics to dial in what their mass takes away.

The Mk7 Golf GTi has an electronic parking brake for God's sake.

If you want a real hot hatch then you need to buy one of the original unholy triumvirate - a Mk1 Golf GTi, Peugeot 205 GTi or Renault Clio Williams.  We have a look at how much it would cost to buy one of these in great condition.

VW Golf GTi

The golden rule with the Mk1 GTi is to buy an original, unmolested one.  Too many have been stanced, have upgraded engines or have just been modified to death by a moron with a Halfords loyalty card.

This one on eBay caught our eye.  It's a 'barn find' 1981, 1.6 GTi with 113,000 miles on the clock that's been laid up for the past 4 years.  It's advertised at £2200 and probably needs another £2000 spending on it to get the engine, brakes, suspension and the rest of it up to fine fettle - although if you're handy with the spanners you would spend a lot less.

If you are looking for a fully restored, mint condition GTi then expect to pay upwards of £8000.  For this money you'll get an 'as new' car with factory-spec interior, paint, wheels, a rebuilt engine and a fat file full of receipts for all the work done.  This one looks perfect.  It's a 1983, 1.8, GTi Campaign with Pirelli wheels and a perfect paint job - and yours for £7995.  We found the car on eBay but it's worth trawling forums on sites such as the Mk1 Golf Owners Club

Peugeot 205 GTi

Crawling through the adverts for a decent 205 GTi can be a soul destroying affair.  The original model was revered for it's purity, it's chassis, it's handling and it's rawness.  Two things separate the 205 from the Golf in terms of the survival of original examples into 2013 - 1) the Peugeot scene is not as big as the VW scene, and 2) it's a Peugeot, so if left to it's own devices will rot.

Many cars have been neglected, abused or cack-handledly modified.  A few 'mint' examples are to be found for sale at up to £10,000 by unscrupulous dealers or misguided owners, but these are often original models that have been given a polish and service.  However dig a little deeper and it is possible to find some examples of early 1.6 205 GTis that are original, in great condition and are for sale at a sensible price.

This one looks good.  It is original, has a decent service history, 54,000 miles, no power steering, no electric windows and no sunroof (they take up an inch of headroom and leak) - perfect.  And it's for sale at £2900, which is a little steep.  You may get away with £2500 in cash.  The owner writes an honest advert and has presented it well for the photos.  

The only downside is that it's in silver.  White is the ideal colour for a 205 GTi.  The only similar white car we found was sitting 2 inches too high at the front, with no explanation!  Budget £1000 for a thorough service, plus possibly another £800 for new suspension and you've got a truly original hot hatch.

Renault Clio Williams

If you're going to buy a Clio Williams then it needs to be a 1 or 2 in Sports Blue rather than a 3 in Monaco Blue.  There are only 213 Williams 1s on the road and 201 Williams 2s left - and only half of those are actually licenced and on the road.

A lot have been rallied, a few have been modified.  One is for sale on eBay with Dimma bodywork, which is a horrendous thing to do to such an iconic car.  Some people will try and sell you a Clio Williams for silly money but good, unrestored - mint condition - Clio Williams 1 and 2s can be had for £5000.  This one is a private sale and has reconditioned wheels, no rust and the engine and gearbox are described as A1.  In fact the seller describes it as perfect with no faults, which is outstanding for a 19 year old car.  It's up for £4975, has 89,000 miles and looks, on the surface, like it needs no money spending on it.