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As a petrol-head we all think we can do a little bit of mechanical work at our cars whether that be changing the brakes, fitting a new exhaust or changing the oil – you know the minor stuff. Well over the years I have spent many an hour tinkering at Peugeot 106’s with the biggest thing probably being replacing the clutch on the rally car with the help of my dad. We sort of did this successfully because getting the gearbox back on was a terrible task. I can remember lying on the ground with the gearbox on my chest and the clutch release bearing slipping off the end of the shaft for the 100th time!!!

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Two years ago I arrived home for a few weeks with a plan of selling off the remaining cars I owned…. namely the two 106 Rallyes and the 106 GTi Grp N spec rally car. I initially thought that it would be a case of a bit of spit and polish and the cars would be sold easily… Nope!First of all I picked up my S2 106 Rallye from my mechanic to find that in the 18 months since I had last seen it had developed white overspray which covered the little pug in its entirety. Now being an ex-fairy liquid to wash cars user I thought all was lost. Up to this point of the year I was having hugely bad luck and the saying “if it wasn’t for bad luck id have no luck at all!” was apt at this particular time. Reversing my wife’s car into my sister in law’s car, missing my flight back to the states, smashing the screen on my phone the list was seemingly endless!

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Luckily a few friends who actually know about cleaning and detailing cars assured me that some work with a clay bar and not only would the white paint be removed but so would the grime from the past few years… They were right! Not long after the car was advertised and bar one punter who offered me a price, which I refused, and then rang me the day after offering me less than his original offer (WTF?) the car was gone at the end of the month to a fellow Peugeot enthusiast.

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That left us with two in the pack. The rally car and my 16v Rallye that I had bought back in 2007 and NEVER drove or even heard the engine turn over despite the fact I had it rebuilt in late 2008… (I am a disaster I know). To me the Rallye turned into what was really a donor car that would be sold with the rally car which is a shame as it wasn’t a million miles away from being drivable. Radiator, exhaust, battery terminals sorted plus a few bits more but I wasn’t in the mood to spend money just get some coppers in the coffers.

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Opening up the bonnet of the rally car and it was a mess quite frankly. Leaves, dirt, dust and the dreaded rust! Now looking at it at first I told my dad that there was no way we could sell the car the way the engine bay was so we thought that the best thing to do was to get the engine out and get a new passenger side inner wing welded in as it really looked to be shot. I rang up fellow Autolifer Chris Gray and explained the situation and he said that I should go out and try to put a screw driver through it to see if it was as bad as I thought… I went out, got the big screw driver and hit it a good thump.

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You know in cartoons when a character is about to hit something really hard but they close their eyes as they are not sure they want to see the consequences??? Well that was me and amazingly the wing was actually strong!!!! Such a relief. I went back in the house and spoke to dad about us tackling the job ourselves… Dad looked at me as if to say “Aye right, you are going to take the engine out, wire brush the engine bay, prime and paint and put the whole thing back together?” In fairness to him he had every right to question me because it wasn’t the first car I dismantled and never put back together. I am pretty sure he did something similar to a RX3 back when he was a “cub”.

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Remember I spoke about me having bad luck this year? Well I think once I came home I must have transferred this bad luck to my dad. I initially started working on the car outside our house, stripping down the front end and I took the shafts out of the gearbox too. We had sold our trailer and our location for doing the work was just a mile away so we thought we would tow it around. We towed the car without much issue but when we stopped and went to push the car it wouldn’t go forward. With the shafts out the wheel bearings came apart and the wheels were pointing opposite to each other. Before we figured that out my dad ended up pulling a muscle in his leg rendering him “inoperable” not only to helping me work at the car but he actually had to take off work he was that bad!! See…. Bad luck 🙁

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So we got the car inside with help from my friend Ciaran O’Hagan who had trolley wheels and before long we had the engine crane hired and we where tackling getting the engine out. With the entire front end off it was a fairly simple task to pull the engine out. Undo the wiring and just a lower and upper gearbox mount and then the top mount close to the ECU – now the hard work starts.

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That 50p sticker tells a “dad” type story.

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Clearing all the rust was going to take a wired brush on he end of a drill. This was a long enough process but very satisfying to see all that rust disappear from the panels but in saying that it really did look a mess. Dad would call in with me every now and again to check up on progress. It was coming along nicely I thought although I am sure dad was thinking “I must be mad for letting this guy talk me into allowing him to do this!”

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At this point it was pretty evident the car had seen a fairly heavy impact on the front left passenger side but it had been pulled “fairly” straight but what is to be expected on a 17-year-old rally car! At this point I was pretty happy to start treating the panels with an anti rust agent called Kurust As I was treating the panel I was pretty sceptical about what it would do so I left it to cure over night and came back to this…

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… the following morning. It had turned black like I had actually painted the areas. It looked to have done a great job so I set about masking it. I have to say at this point I was really enjoying seeing the car’s engine bay transform and the fact that I was doing it myself, as dad was out of action, made it all the more satisfying.

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Now the engine bay was not the only part getting painted as I had a slam panel taken from an old 106 dad had for work and I had a 106 GTI bumper I had bought years ago and never fitted but had to fit as the car was bumper less. I will admit the bumper was the one thing I felt I could make a real balls of as it was the only piece that would people could easily see and/or mock.

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With that I spent a ton of time masking up the parts in the bay that did not need paint and making sure minimal overspray would affect places I didn’t want hit. So I primed the engine bay, slam panel and bumper and let them set over the course of the next night all the time being mindful of getting that engine crane back to the hire company before we got charged so there was a race against time.

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Ah finally the bay is really taking shape now. I laid down a couple of coats of white and it was looking really good. I was getting all excited with the before and after photos showing them to mum and dad. Mum giving me the “O RLY?” look.

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One of the most difficult jobs we had before was trying to connect the clutch cable to the clutch pedal. With the engine in it had me and dad scratching our heads. With the engine out it would just be a simple “push it through the bulk head and clip it on…” Right? Lying upside down in the car head near the pedals I struggled like no struggle I have known before. Dad tried and I tried and we could see the cable we just couldn’t hook it. This is the one thing I knew could beat me and it did.

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So with everything lacquered up it was engine back in time which went fairly smoothly and we didn’t bang or scratch the paint… well maybe a spot or two. Engine crane sent back it was now time to fire all the wires back on and get this baby cranked up!

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Some of the multiple photos I took to help remember what wire went where!.

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Before putting the wires back in position I reviewed all the photos I had taken but realized that once you put on two or three wires the rest all made sense because of their location in the harness. With masking tape I taped up frayed ends and renewed all the rest of them just to be on the safe side. There was one wire though that was a complete mo fo to get back on around the back of the engine because I couldn’t see it nor did I have a spanner or socket that I could effectively get it on with. After a while though we managed to get it sorted…

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New shiny slam panel fitted and fans back on, radiator installed again and things where really taking shape with the car but before you knew it I had to stop. My flight back to Las Vegas was looming the following day. So even though I did not get the chance to finish the car I was so pleased I was able to get the bulk of the work done. I had wanted to get a proper wash at the car but alas I really didn’t get the time. I was super frustrated I was unable to get the clutch hooked up either not that it really mattered in the end.

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The Peden 106 went back home to Lurgan.

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Most fun car EVAR

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One of the last days the Dimma would see Irish tarmac

A few months later and the rally car and Rallye were gone and I went from owning 5 cars to just 1 left out of the fleet. John Peden had taken the 106 Retro back, my Indigo Rallye made it to an enthusiast further up the country and in one fell swoop the other two had gone leaving just the Dimma. It felt really odd to be honest and it did irk me a little to know my Bianca White had merely gone as a donor shell with engine. If my rally driving career was all but finished to this point, it was completely done now with the sale of the rally car.

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Above you can see the two cars in a pic taken by, that time, the new owner. Rally car on the left and the Rallye 16v on the right. The white Rallye was actually put back into working order and the last I had heard of it was it was being built into a rally car!! Delighted to hear that to be honest!!!
 
As you can see I am not a mechanic and my hands “have never seen a hard days work in their life” apparently but the one thing I take from this weekend of me pretending I knew what I was doing was that it was immensely satisfying and so much fun. If you have thought about doing a project on your car and are afraid about messing it up or whatever, quit the bullsh*t and just get out there and do it! I’m sure the job I did wasn’t the best job that could be done and I probably made mistakes etc (wire on the wrong way on the starter anyone??) but it was a learning experience and since then I have been itching to get out and work on another car that I’ll enjoy. Thankfully that will be happening real soon and remember when you get out to your work space believe in yourself and chant I AM THE MECHANIC!!!
 
Words: Patrick McCullagh
Photos: Patrick McCullagh, Connor McCann, Wayne Douglas & Colin Reaney
 

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