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FCA Head Designer Ralph Gilles Rebuilding a Peugeot 205 GTI Is Classic Love
We're all trying to wrap our heads around the 14-brand bouquet created by FCA and PSA merging into Stellantis, which is now the world's fourth-largest automaker by volume. Amid electrification plans and financial developments unfolding, Fiat Chrysler design boss Ralph Gilles provides a more mechanical angle on the matter, all thanks to the project car he's currently working on: a Peugeot 205 GTi.

FCA Head Designer Ralph Gilles Rebuilding a Peugeot 205 GTI Is Classic Love

The world was first exposed to the magic of the 205 GTi back in 1984, one year after the introduction of the civilian model, with the model going down in history as one of the most important representatives of the hot hatch genre. And with a 104 hp (105 PS) 1.6-liter engine only having to deal with under 900 kilos (1,980 lbs) and a chassis that would allow the driver to play the lift-off oversteer card at will, it's easy to understand why.

Nevertheless, the example we have here, which Gilles acquired back in October last year from the French Island of Corsica (as shown in one the Instagram posts below), features the larger 1.9-liter engine introduced in 1986, which brought a power premium of around 20 horses. And while the motor isn't quite as rev-happy as the one it replaced, it does deliver extra torque, which, as Gilles notes in the comments section of another post, is just what the doctor ordered for American traffic.

The pocket rocket is nicknamed Gisele, a name borrowed from Gisele Mouscardy, the late aunt who sent one of the designer's many sketches to Chrysler during his teenage years, a move that would eventually lead to him joining the company.

The Michigan-based aficionado, whose Instagram is a collection of motoring tales, has been posting monthly updates on the project, and the intro image is the January goodie, which landed just three days ago. We can see Gisele on top of a trailer, attached to a Ram 2500HD known as Vader, with the tiny beast stripped out for a complete respray.

Meanwhile, as the December post shows, the Pug's shoes were restored to their former glory by Detroit Wheels, with some parts, such as the flywheel, having apparently been replaced. When it came to other bits (e.g. the brake calipers), they were cleaned by the man himself, using a Harbor Freight sand blaster he bought a decade ago.

"[Sand blasting is] sort of like quilting for me. A semi-mindless task I find relaxing," Gilles explains in the comments section of the post.

We're not quite sure what to make of that timing chain, though, since, as far as the 205 GTi is concerned, we would've expected to see a belt.

Once completed, the spicy hatchback will join a collection of Euro gems including a 1968 Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior (this one is named Dorian), a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV (its Sergio nickname is an homage to the late FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne), as well as a 1991 Lancia Delta Integrale known as Bruno.

And it's worth noting that the car lover puts track miles on this machines, albeit while not neglecting his Viper ACR Extreme (after all, he penned the Gen V beast).

Until we get to see the final form of the project, a digital artist whose work has been Insta-shared by Gilles in the past has already pixel-built a 205 GTI with Gisele as a muse. Abimelec Arellano, whose digital creations we constantly feature (here's his Renault 5 Electric "Turbo" dream), has rendered a Mopar-ized example of the hot hatch that would make for some top SEMA material.

Nearly four decades ago, the 205 range was a key part of a dramatic supermini genre transformation, which saw these compact honeys moving upmarket. And while the trend has accelerated meanwhile, Peugeot never really managed to deliver a GTI badge as influent as the one in question. As such, perhaps the electric revolution currently taking place will see the French company pulling such a stunt.

The U.S. market? While Peugeot had an American presence in the days of the 205 (the carmaker left the stage in 1991), the model never made it across the pond.

However, with Dodge having tried to bring sporty compact vibes back in 2006 via the Hornet concept, albeit to no avail, the said battery takeover could see the Detroit automaker benefiting from the kind of development mentioned above under the Stellantis umbrella.


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