The Peugeot 205 was so popular in its 13 years on sale in Britain that it became notoriously difficult for Peugeot to replace.
In 1991 the Peugeot 106 had been introduced to offer another affordable small car, but it didn't have the same appeal. It wasn't until 1998, over two years after the demise of the 205, that Peugeot launched its 206 successor. While stylish and popular, the 206 never captured the hearts and minds of those who drove it, unlike the 205.
At its launch in 1983, the Peugeot 205 was available with a range of small petrol engines and naturally aspirated diesels. Suspension was by Macpherson strut at the front and trailing arms fixed to transversely mounted torsion bars at the rear.
Despite being beaten to the 1984 European Car of the Year title by the Fiat Uno, the 205 soon won many plaudits thanks to its low running costs, attractive styling and excellent dynamics.
Peugeot launched the GTi in April 1984, perhaps the most revered of the 205 models. Originally a 1.6 litre with 105bhp, then upgraded to 115bhp during 1986, the GTi had a list price of £6295. It was joined in the range by a 130bhp 1.9-litre flagship at the end of 1986.
Both models offered huge driver involvement, fizzy performance and pert good looks that made them hugely popular with hot hatch drivers of the 1980s. A series of special editions, such as the 1FM (produced in association with Radio 1 and adding a host of additional equipment) further enhanced the GTi's appeal.
The Peugeot 205 Gentry was a softer-edged GTi, with a detuned 1.9-litre engine producing 105bhp, more luxurious interior and automatic gearbox. It was only available in Sorrento Green or Aztec Gold. The spirit of the Gentry can be seen in the recently launched 208 XY, using a less-powerful GTi engine with a softer focus.
The cabriolet version of the Peugeot 205 was the CJ, and was available with a 1.4-litre petrol shared with other hatchback variants like the XS and GT. Launched in 1986 and made until 1994, the CJ was partially assembled by Pininfarina. It rivalled cabriolet variants of the VW Golf and Ford Escort.
Peugeot also made a GTi version of the CJ cabriolet, called the CTi. Initially available with the 1.6-litre engine, the more powerful 1.9 was later introduced to the CTi, but only in its catalysed 122bhp form. Today the CTis are much less sought after than the hatchback GTis.
The Rallye badge has arguably as much kudos fixed to a Peugeot as the GTi moniker does. With the 205, two very different Rallyes were produced for British and European markets. The former was little different from the regular 1.4-litre 205s - it produced the same power but was lighter and came with unique colours and decals. The 205 Rallye was only produced in 1992.
European versions of the 205 Rallye made 102bhp thanks to the adoption of twin Weber carburettors (the UK car had just one). Bereft of most interior luxuries, it weighed just 790kg.
With the 205 DTurbo, Peugeot arguably created the diesel hot hatch that is still popular today with models like the VW Golf GTD and Mini Cooper SD. Adding a turbo to the 205's 1.8-litre diesel liberated 78bhp and 117lb ft of torque, combining pace with economy.
Dimma provided a range of factory-approved engine and body modifications for the 205. While kits were available to be retrofitted, the official Dimma cars, ordered from Peugeot, are now most collectable.
Available on GTi and CTi models, the Dimma widebody tweaks gave the 205 massively flared arches and new vents, similar to that of the T16. Perhaps the most famous Dimma 205 is 'H 20 COS', a Cosworth-powered wide-body car.
The 205 was as accomplished in motorsport as it was on the road. The T16 was the ultimate evolution of 205, homologated by Peugeot to compete in Group B rallying. The competition car was hugely successful, winning 16 events and two WRC titles for Peugeot between 1984 and 1986.
The final T16 Evolution 2 cars produced over 500bhp and weighed less than 1000kg. Production T16s made a more sedate 200bhp from a 1.8-litre turbo, but retained the mid-engined, 4WD layout of the rally cars.
See more of the 205 GTi 1.9 in our Hero Cars feature video here.