1996 Peugeot 306 xsi

Engine: 1998cc 4 cylinder 8 valves
Power: 135hp (100kw) @ 5500rpm
Max Speed: 125mph
0-60mph: 8.5 seconds

In 1997, I was leaving Norwich and had to hand back my BMW 318i company car. I was looking for something interesting to drive. In the end, I ordered the Spider, but I also needed a sensible car for daily driving.

I bought the Peugeot from a company that had repossessed it from a failed small business. It cost around £9,500, which was a good price when they typically sold for £11,000-12,000, and it had relatively low mileage.

I made the mistake of not realising that the 2.0lt xsi came in an 8v and a more powerful 16v version. This was the 8v model.

My mother had owned a 305 estate car and had some major problems with it. The 306 had its fair share too. When I bought it, there was an engine warning light on. The lamda sensor (O2) had to be replaced and it failed once more in my ownership. At its first service, it came back with a huge list of faults which had to be remedied. Worse than that, when driving down to the south coast after the service, the car made a terrible noise and developed a misfire. I thought the exhaust had blown and pulled into a nearly dealer.

It turned out that one of the spark plugs had blown out of the cylinder head - no doubt because it had been cross-threaded during the service. Luckily the Southampton dealer was able to repair it with a helicoil insert, but I had not luck with the Reading dealer getting any recompense. The Southampton dealer also pointed out that two of the tyres were bald, which the Reading garage hadn't noticed. After that I dealt mainly with independent Peugeot garages. Parts were also a nightmare though. I noticed a petrol smell and found one of the fuel injection return hoses had perished. It took months to get a replacement part, and the first one they sent was wrong. The dealer blamed a new parts system for the stuff up. Then the heater motor went. I was quoted 16 hours labour to replace the part. When they returned the car I drove down the road and the car filled with condensation, they had obviously damaged the heater core during the job, again I was fobbed off with excuses and they charged another 16 hours to replace the heater core. The total bill for the heater repair was more than the car was worth...

It was also an unlucky car. Whilst leaving a car park, near Standsted airport, a recently arrived American tourist reversed his rental car into the side door. A local panel shop did a great repair on it.

A little while later I left the car with one of those airport parking places at Luton airport where they valet park the cars. When they retuned it, it had a big dent in the rear wing. I went into the office and they rolled their eyes, "Another one" she said, "Don't worry our insurance will sort it out." It didn't of course, they wanted THREE estimates for the work, it was all just too much hassle and I sold it on, in 2003, with the existing damage for a little over £2,000.