Thursday, 11 February 2016

Project Eighty-Seven - Part Eight

Words - Daniel Bevis; photos - Daniel Bevis & Will Carter


What’s the most visually significant change you can make to a car? A shiny new set of rims? A saucy adjustment to the ride height? Well, possibly, but you can’t get a lot more radical than totally changing the colour of the thing, so I thought we should give that a go this month.
Brilliantly, we live in the future. This means that certain things are mainstream – almost mundane – today which would once have been gobsmacking and pie-in-the-sky; try climbing into your DeLorean, cranking that V6 up to 88mph, shimmering back to the 1950s and trying to convince them of the commonplace reality of mobile video calls, or Kickstarter crowdfunding, or 3D printers. Or the possibility of changing the colour of your car without going through the rigmarole of respraying the thing. What a time to be alive, eh?

There are a number of options available to you if you fancy a change in hue and don’t want to commit to a respray. Plasti-dip is very fashionable right now, for example – it’s a kind of spray-on rubber coating that eliminates the terror of overspray because you can just pick it off. But I wanted to go a step further, into the middle ground between the totally temporary and the full-on permanent, so vinyl wrapping seemed to be the most sensible way forward.
Now, a lot of people are vinyl wrapping these days, and I’d be willing to bet that the majority percentage were doing it in matt or satin black. But I think that’s a bit played out (living in London, you see it on every second Range Rover and 5 Series, it gets a bit ‘meh’), and I wanted something that was more in keeping with the retro Peugeot ethos. After a little research, I was excited to discover that there’s a shade available that’s remarkably close to the old Miami Blue that 205 GTIs used to be available in, but with a twist – it has a spangly satin finish. Pretty neat, huh?

With that decision made, it was time to find the right people to do it. After a bit of digging about, it made sense to go with Totally Dynamic, as they’ve been in the wrapping game for fifteen years or so, and what they don’t know about covering vehicles in self-adhesive vinyl could be written with a chunky Sharpie on the back of a postage stamp. And while they have various franchises across the country (including one in Redhill, which would have been pretty handy for me in Wandsworth), the ethos of this build has been to take the car to the mothership wherever possible – like I did with the exhaust a couple of months ago, for example, going down to Dorset. And where is Totally Dynamic’s HQ? Why, Pudsey, of course. Just outside Leeds. Two hundred-odd miles away. Sure.

Unfortunately, due to various work commitments (and the pesky irritation of a house move), I knew I wouldn’t be able to find the time to drive it up there, get a train home to London, then do the whole there-and-back journey in reverse a couple of days later. So I fired up the Google-ator and set about hunting down a vehicle relocation service that could help me out. I read through countless user reviews and testimonials, and the shining star that had impeccable credentials over and above anyone else I found was Moto-Move. Handily, they’re based in Yorkshire, so the prospect of a couple of London-Leeds shuttle runs was a piece of cake for them (although, as I later discovered, they spend their time ricocheting around all corners of the UK like some kind of manic pinball, so if you need a car taken from anywhere to anywhere else, they’re your lads). Founder Andy is a thoroughly decent and personable bloke with a passion for old cars – particularly retro hot hatches – and his unique hook in the market is that he isn’t just some dude who’s bought a low-loader; he’s spent years in the field of mechanics, car and fleet maintenance, so if your car cocks up at the far end of the journey he can probably get it running. I thought that might be a useful attribute in transporting #Project87. Y’know, just in case.

So, Andy turned up at 6:45am on a bright Thursday dawn and carted the GTI oop north. The next morning, roving Retro Cars snapper Will Carter arrived at Totally Dynamic, up with the lark, to find the 205 surrounded by Nissan GT-Rs, Mercedes SLSs and various other treats. It does love to lower the tone, that car…
As Will watched on in awe, the vinyl wizards worked their magical wonders, stretching, heating and slicing until the whole of the exterior was gloriously plastered in a shimmering satin Miami Blue. And I have to say it looks bloody marvellous. You can tell that these guys’ bread-and-butter is in wrapping high-end supercars as well as complicated designs for commercial vehicles – with the complex angles and details of the little eighties Peugeot, the quality speaks for itself. And at £800 for the wrap (what they call a three-quarter wrap, as I wanted to keep the resprayed graphite grey lower half visible), I’d say that was an absolute bargain. Can’t recommend them highly enough.

The following Tuesday, my phone buzzed at 6:45am with a message from Andy Moto-Move: ‘I’m outside, ready when you are.’ I bounded down the stairs, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, and was greeted by a car transformed. I couldn’t believe it. The finish of the 205’s original white paint had always been the thing that let the car down – it photographed well, but up close you could see where twenty-seven years of sun and rain had taken their toll. But the vinyl wrap had refreshed the thing, made it look brand new. Totally Dynamic totally nailed it with this one. I’d heartily recommend you give ’em a call if you’re in the market for an automotive makeover.

And now, with heavy heart, it’s time for me to sign off from #Project87. It’s been a very personal and involving project for me – I’ve got to meet a number of fascinating characters and see a side of retro car maintenance and modification that would often be inaccessible to the man on the street (all in the name of reporting back to you, dear reader). I learned that my local auto electricians are a bunch of chancers, who hung onto the car for weeks on end and told me with pride how they’d been dropping their kids off at school in it rather than, y’know, fixing it. Conversely, I met some sensationally accomplished and talented mechanics with a true passion for retro tuning, at ED Motorsport, Toulmin Motors and Pug1Off. I got to see the car being dismantled on ramps time and time again; by this point I know the damn thing inside out, and I mean that absolutely literally. And best of all, I got to drive the thing. A lot. If you’ve never driven a 1.9 GTI, I urge you to go and do so at the earliest possible opportunity. They really do kick a serious amount of arse – 130bhp may not sound that much in a modern context, but it’s all about the weight and the gearing: these things are properly fast. And not just ‘fast for an old car’ fast, but really fast. The incredible suspension setup that Gaz built for me all those months ago made the already-sparkling handling utterly sublime, and those meaty Tarox brakes inspired the confidence to really hustle the thing down country lanes, provoking that famed cocked rear wheel at any given opportunity. The sturdy Helix clutch provided not even a single iota of slip which, I’m unashamed to say, is something that helps feed the hooligan in you when you want to unleash a mid-corner second-gear wheelspin and massage the ego of your inner teenager. This really is just an awesome car, and I’ll miss it a great deal. But needs must.

Still, don’t be downhearted. This isn’t the end for you, readers… in fact, it could be just the beginning. I’ve handed the keys over to Retro Cars’ very own Jeff Blackmore, who’s been bugging me for a spin in the old girl since he first clapped eyes on it. And now, lucky boy, his name has replaced mine on the logbook. So, let’s see what he’s got in store for you next time, shall we…?

Look after her, Jeff. She’s a good girl.
Over and out.

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