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The part we don't talk about - Sentimental attachment to metal.

Updated: Apr 15

The reality of owning a project car is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows, a series of bad luck can be the death to some. This is the story of my 1996 Peugeot 106.

As it lays essentially on it's deathbed there isn't much if anything I can't tell you about this car, I've been wanting to write about it for years but really the story was never complete, I'm still not sure if it will be soon, and it definitely never went the way I expected it was going to. Every dent and mark on this once near perfect bodywork has a story of its own, every weld, every imperfect handmade panel represents a passion for keeping a car alive that really would have been scrapped a long time ago. Are we as car enthusiasts just daft? Or does the sometimes small sense of achievement far outweigh the monetary value of what some would describe as a bucket of shite.

If I had a pound for every time someone told me I would have been better off scrapping it and buying something new I'd be loaded, 8 years I've owned Yoda, starting life with me as a bog standard 1.1 Peugeot 106, absolutely nothing special, Yoda is my first car, and truthfully from day one of ownership has always been a pain in the arse. When I bought this car I didn't even have my licence yet, I really fancied a Peugeot 205 but 205 prices were already on the rise, I hadn't even left school yet, I was 18 and working towards going to college in Perth, we thought this would be the perfect thing to get me there and back, it was cheap enough to run, and I could learn a bit more about working on cars whilst carrying out the repairs it needed. However this quickly grew arms and legs, my car enthusiast brain was now fully activated for the first time, 'I now have a blank canvas' - Day one of ownership I was looking online to find out which engines I could swap into this for little to no money.

I'd say one of the biggest factors of the sentimental bond often between man and metal is the friendship it brings, the memories almost ingrained within the panels of the car, I've met many friends because of this car, and the car often out-living the friendships gained.

It's September 2016, I am 4 months into the ownership of the car, I still don't have my licence yet but I'm working on it, I've bought another 106 to be the L plate car, - the decision has been made, the 106 is getting an engine swap, I've sourced a near complete Citroen Saxo VTR for the grand total of £50 through my mate Kyle, We moved quickly to get to work getting the car prepared, I at this point didn't have much experience working on cars, my dad had shown me how to change brakes etc and I had picked up things though watching him working on his cars when I was a child.

Kyle and myself stripped the engine and gearbox out the saxo on my grans drive one October night, we were absolutely determined it was coming out that night, we eventually got it out the car at about 11.30PM that night fueled by Rockstar Energy. I still find it hilarious we transported all the stuff that came out the car (engine, gearbox, driveshafts, me, kyle and my dad) to my garage where yoda was parked in the silver 106 on L-plates.

I won't bore you with the full first build of the car, but with the help of many mates we got the car built over a few months however I couldn't get it to fire and I was busy with college stuff so it sat for a couple months in the garage mainly untouched, I at this point had passed my test and was distracted driving everywhere in the silver 106, however there was an issue, the silver 106 failed it's MOT in January 2017 and I didn't want to spend any money on it, so it got scrapped and Yoda was pulled out the garage so we could investigate why it wouldn't fire. A snapped wire to the starter motor was found a repaired but never fixed the issue and I was getting frustrated with it. So I had agreed to buy another 106, on the day I went to look at the car we were also working on Yoda, I had just looked at the car I was supposed to be buying and I got a phone call from my mates Kyle B and Ian, they tell me that the had got the car to fire and I thought they were winding me up, but they weren't, the car was actually running, I still to this day don't know how they managed it, But I appreciate it. I cannot emphasise the feeling you get when a project car fires after a new engine has been fitted, especially when thee car had really been built with little to no knowledge other than what Kyle J was learning at the time and a serious amount of youtube - the likes of Haggard Garage, Mighty Car Mods and Roadkill being the main influences.

The car was on the road in April 2017 and we went absolutely everywhere with it, nearly every day we were out in the car with Leigh (previous owner) and Daniel, again the memories with the car during this period are unforgettable, there really are too many to list but I think I did do about 12k miles in it this year so that just shows how much the car was driven. I think it must have been to nearly every abandoned building in the central belt of Scotland at one point.

One of the funniest memories during this period must have been entering the burnout competition at Driftland, Japcan roaring I did a mad two wheel peel in it.

The main goal during 2017 was to get the car down to Donington for French Car Show 2017, which we managed, the car actually did the journey pretty trouble free, although the clutch felt funky when we got there, Daniel N of SAX06UK had realised we hadn't added in a spacer on the clutch cable when we had fitted the box to the car, so with some quick thinking he added a jubilee clip to it to act as a spacer and it was much better, how it hadn't been an issue between May and June I'll never know. - Again French car show in itself provided some unforgettable moments and people I've been friends with ever since, one sadly not here anymore, but if it hadn't have been for this car I wouldn't have met any of them.

I've never been easy on the car, but I had decided I wanted to have it resprayed as the paintwork was shocking, the Samoa Blue paint had faded to the point it was unrecognizable and the clear coat was cracking all over. This phase of the build took forever, mainly because I had not anticipated how much work the car would need or how much it would cost, but with massive thanks to Alan at Alz Paint and Bodywork we did manage to get that car painted and I was totally over the moon with it, Alan had worked wonders with the car, and adding the 106 GTIO bodykit to it had really set it off.

I've resurrected this car so many times over the 8 years I've owned it, mainly due to me. I have fitted 4 different engines to it - the first VTR engine spoken about above, I then went for an earlier VTR engine - when that was fitted we had to build the car out the back of my mums flat in the snow because I had binned my daily driver, with the help of many friends, mainly Kyle J, Kyle B and Shayne we got the car built in a week. Then when this engine had some serious problems about 8 months down the line I had decided I was going to put a 16V GTI engine in it, Aaron took me through to Glasgow to collect the engine in the back of VW Lupo, which was absolutely not happy about it, and again Shayne came over to help put the engine in the car, this swap was an absolute nightmare and I couldn't get it running properly which resulted in the full wiring harness being swapped for a 3 plug GTI harness. And lastly this engine was short lived due to developing crankwalk so another GTI engine was swapped in, I also welded some new metal into the inner wings and repaired the engine mount as it had cracked. The car also benefitted from a set of Cat Cam 743s.

So where does that bring us now? Well bringing us up to 2023, I was at a point where I felt the car was pretty much complete, the bodywork was where I wanted it to be, it had the ideal amount of power and really it was just a case of working on the interior and carrying out the maintenance work the car required, but unfortunately this year was out to get me, April 2023 I crashed the car into a farm wall, bending the nearside front chassis leg roughly 80mm in towards the radiator and absolutely wrecked the front inner wing, bonnet, front bumper, rear bumper and rear axle.

I rebuilt the car again, forming the new inner wing by hand out of 1.5mm sheet metal and welding it in, the rear axle got swapped for a saxo VTS disk axle that is absolutely slammed, and I had to do some welding underneath as well, the car also had a different gearbox fitted at this point due to the 2nd gear synchro being damaged on the one in the car. The last part I required to get the car back on the road was a bonnet and I had managed to source one down near my mate Will in Shropshire, so I asked him if he'd be able to go and collect it.

Myself and Clarke took a drive down one Friday night to go and collect it, which honestly was a total nightmare of a trip due to the fact I had been working in Dundee all day, but I thought if I just drank loads of energy drinks I'd be fine. Stupid choice, I managed to get to Lancaster before my body decided it didn't want the energy drinks anymore and I spent 10 minutes spewing in a park and ride, then continued on our way. We collected the bonnet spent about 2 hours chatting with Will and Emily then headed back up the road, which was pretty much stress free except my bank having an error and my card getting declined in an English petrol station - that was interesting to say the least. We laugh about the trip now.

Then the day after getting it back on the road the engine wiring harness caught fire due to the main live from the alternator to the starter being trapped under the engine mount, luckily I caught it quick, throwing about half a bottle of halfords coolant over it had seemed to do the trick, I managed to cut the burnt wires out of it and drive it from Saline to my work at Lathalmond. Now the car it this point is really testing my patience, but I persevered with it, repairing another engine loom I had and fitting that I had it running properly.

May 2023 - two weeks after I put the loom back in the bonnet latch failed on the outside lane of the M876 at Larbert bringing the bonnet up smashing the windscreen and the roof in the process, again I managed to get the car to work after it happened but this is the last time it's driven anywhere under it's own power. I had plans for re-skinning the roof - truthfully I've hardly looked at it since.

Now the car sits pretty much abandoned, a shadow of it's former self. It is almost like it is stuck in limbo at this point, on the one hand I don't want to get rid of it because of the sentimental attachment to the car but I also haven't had any luck with it and I feel there is no shame in getting rid of it at this point, realistically it should have been dead a long time ago but I have kept resurrecting it, the problem being now I don't have the same level of drive to work on it as I used to, and don't get me wrong this car is great to drive when it works. But at what point does the cost of repair and the time involved outweigh the sentimental value and the memories attached to what really is just a chunk of metal? I guess as car enthusiasts it can be the hardest part, no car was designed to last forever especially not a 90's French econobox.

That is a look in to my Peugeot 106, and I guarantee any true car enthusiast will be able to relate to everything that has been written here. Maybe it is time to move on to something else retro.


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