INSIGHT | Dimma Design | Part 1

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Since I was a kid I have always been a huge fan of Peugeot. Indeed I have never owned anything other than a Peugeot since I started driving when I was 25 (I know! 25 years of age… Why so late? 🙂 ). My first car was a Peugeot 306 D-turbo and since then I have owned a 206 and numerous 106’s. If I am completely honest I am a diehard Peugeot fan but not only am I a diehard fan I am a brokenhearted fan. In fact the love affair with the french marque has come to an end as nothing in the range really gives me any excitement or yearning to own any of the newer models. However, the love affair with all things “Dimma” has begun!
 
My love of Dimma cars has been ongoing for as long as I care to remember. “Dimma” or “Dimma Design” are based in Belgium and have been putting wide and leery body kits on cars for decades now. Dimma started to design body kits for French manufacturers such as Renault and Citroen but have been best known for their Peugeot creations. The Dimma 205, 106 and 306 models. All ultra wide and ultra mean looking!

1985 Peugeot 205 T16 Group B (a)

The Dimma 205 is definitely the most popular Dimma car out there with many many cars having been produced. The car is based on the all conquering GroupB Peugeot 205 T16 that dominated the World Rally Championship in the mid 1980’s.

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Genuine Peugeot 205 T16 – photo by Eddy Clio Caradisiac.com

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Gorgeous Dimma 205 – Marlow Photography

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I think you will agree there is just something really fantastic looking about these cars. The huge arches, dished wheels and the typical 80’s styling ques like the vents just behind the door, very Testarossa like.

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Dimma Design also produced convertible versions of the car which although getting away from that rally heritage you could still have one for your other half and keep them happy :). Call me a hairdresser if you will but I think that looks amazing looking.

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There are some really “hot” version’s out there with the likes of the Cosworth 4WD version which is said to have 450bhp. How much fun would that be??

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The Dimma 106 is the car I wanted to build for a long time. The Dimma above resides in Holland and I have envied the owner for many years (Although I am sure the car has been sold on to someone else). This 106 Rallye Dimma to me is the best looking 106 I have ever seen. It just looks like what Peugeot would have produced if there was a road going version of the 106 Maxi.

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Peugeot 106 Maxi – the Dimma kit is exactly the same. Dimma produced these panels for Peugeot

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The above 106 is yet another Cosworth 4WD effort and you can just imagine its running stupid BHP and would be completely scary. I really admire the people who can come up with these builds and those crazy enough to drive them!

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Photo: Scene Photography
 
This Dimma 106 above looks fantastic and it’s for sale too on ebay currently. Even though the car is very much built with a slant away from its rallying background it looks brilliant on the MAM MT1 rims and the Audi Aviator Grey colour suits the car so well. People are going to look at the price of that 106 and think its completely crazy. If your thinking that you are completely missing the point of a genuine Dimma car. They are very rare and to get one like the above that has not be chopped up with exhaust coming out of the boot (I kid you not!) or out the bottom of the quarter panels or having the body kit smoothed into each other is pretty rare. This happened when everyone had to go bigger and better than the next person so a lot of great cars got “ruined” in the pursuit of doing something different. I could be wrong but a genuine example that has been looked after is going to be worth a fair bit more in the coming years.

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For me personally the ultimate Dimma has always been the 306. For a lot of people it will be the 205 but for me the Dimma 306 is the car that really grabbed my imagination. I grew up recording the French Rally Championship on Eurosport – watching the likes of Gilles Panizzi, Jean Ragnotti and Philippe Bulgalski battling it out on torturous french tarmac in their respective french F2 maxi kit cars. The sound of them was just amazing.

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I also use to watch Top Gear Motorsport (which was an off shoot motorsport program of Top Gear in the mid-90’s) and spied a Diablo Red Peugeot 306 Dimma – life seemed to stand still for me at 14 years of age when I witnessed this absolute beautiful machine. I just thought my life would be complete with that car in it.

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Not long after that Top Gear had another feature of modified cars and first up was the above Dimma 306 of Mr. Dimma UK, Terry Pankhurst. I looked at that segment over and over again and it just instilled in me my love for these wide arch cars.

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The cabriolet 306 also got the Dimma treatment as well. I really cannot fault Dimma’s design when developing the kit, which was essentially for rallying, into something so pleasing to the eye. Usually rally cars cannot be described as beautiful but more so purposeful looking. The Dimma is no Ferrari but to me at least it is just the last word.

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Eighteen months ago my dream finally came true. You know the drill, trawling the internet endlessly on a dull evening putting in those search terms you always seem to use: Dimma, AE86, Evolution, Cosworth, Type-R and so on. I then spotted a Dimma 306 and there was no price listed, I simply had to know more!. The following morning I went to go look at the car and as it came along the road I turned to my mate and said “Oh my god, I am in trouble now” not long after the car was bought and I have loved it ever since.

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Probably my least favourite Dimma is the 206 as there are so few good examples around. Like all the above Peugeots the Dimma 206 is based on a works Peugeot rally car from Peugeot Sport. In its guise above it looks amazing but I think the problem is not with Dimma’s version. When the 206 was being homologated to allow it to compete the FIA told Peugeot the car was too short. This is when the 206 Gran Turismo or GT was born with the very big bumpers so that Peugeot could make the car legal for competition. So the design of the 206 WRC and therefore the Dimma 206 was always a little bit compromised.

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From certain angles the car looks very good but I think from the front the car looks to “smiley” or “mouthy” it just does not work. However from the side…

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…it does look a lot better. Getting the stance and wheel size right for the car seems to be absolutely key (as it is for any car but especially for something as wide as this) and I think the original Dimma car with its Cosworth engine looks really great. It seems that the Cosworth engine is the choice for an engine swap for Dimma owners. I would secretly love to do a Lancer Evolution Dimma 306 and I have seen a Dimma 106 Evolution build from the continent which looks superb!

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There are some very dodgy looking Dimma 206’s around and in some dodgy looking colours and they go for peanuts but there is so much potential with them. For example get the car painted, get rid of the front and back bumpers and use 206 S1600 bumpers and you would have something like this potentially…

Peugeot 206 S1600 - M. Gras

…which I think looks a lot better. Its more compact and less “mouthy” or “smiley”. Breathing life into old modified cars is completely possible. I guess it is a little like the property TV shows we see. Some couples come in and are horrified by the curtains or completely put off by the wallpaper, then there are those who look at it and can completely visualize “what could be”.

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The last Dimma Peugeot we’ll talk about is probably the rarest of them all. The Peugeot 309 was never a particularly sought after car especially in the shadow of its older brother the 205 so I guess it is no surprise that so few Dimma 309’s are in existence today.

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For you that hail from Northern Ireland you will notice the car is on a N.I reg although its indicating that it has an Mi16 engine from a 405 and the 4WD system to boot!. The Peugeot Talbot Sport colours were so popular in their day. People loved to represent the PTS brand on the car and I miss seeing them on the grills of 205 GTI’s like my uncle use to have on his 1.6.

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Above is yet another rare version of the Dimma 309. Peugeot fans will recognise the colour instantly as Goodwood Green and this is indeed a Dimma 309 Goodwood. The 309’s definitely where not that special as a normal car but to have rare versions within the Dimma grouping is quite special.
 
So if these cars are so cool and so special why does no one care for them or why do they not command a high price? It’s not the fault of Dimma but by the early 2000’s the scene had changed or at least it had began to change to what it is now: more OEM styling. Out went large body kits and Peugeot, it seemed, had lost its way with fans: people who had grown up with the 205, 106 and 306. Nowadays people almost laugh at you for owning a Peugeot. Its all Honda, VW, Mitsubishi and Subaru. Peugeot, in the modifying community at least, is a shadow of its former self. We (Peugeot enthusiasts) have been left to face palm at the copious amounts of badly modified 306’s and the occasional and rare glimpse of a 205 GTI or 106 Rallye. Peugeot, as a brand, just isn’t cool anymore.
 
Check out the second part of this article here where we take a look at the non-Peugeot Dimma cars.
 
Words: Patrick McCullagh
 

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