Tolman’s Peugeot 205 GTi restomod impressed James Disdale by not falling victim to the typical bloat
Is ‘restomod fatigue’ a thing? I’m not sure, but if it is, then I’ve certainly been suffering from something like it over the past year or so.
The early exponents of this updating art were fairly simple in their approach, serving up a sharper driving experience while retaining the donor car’s retro looks and character.
Yet recently the scene appears to have changed, the emphasis shifting to outlandish money-no-object projects that seemingly obliterate the original machine’s personality in pursuit of the coffee-run (ugh!) bragging rights of a well-heeled few.
However, the Tolman 205 GTi proved that it doesn’t have to be this way.
For starters, it actually looks like the car it’s based on, to the point that even keen lion lovers will probably dismiss it as a stock example, albeit a beautifully kept one.
And while the period-perfect exterior and interior hide some heavily modded mechanicals, none of the many changes dilutes the fast French hatch’s core appeal.
If you’ve driven a 205 previously, then a blast in the Tolman will bring happy memories, and if you haven’t, then you’ll soon understand what the fuss was about.
Yes, it’s faster than the old car (a bespoke 200bhp twin-cam 16-valve 1.9-litre motor sees to that) but the razor-sharp throttle response and classic hot hatch big-engine-in-a-small-car vibe remain intact.
And while there’s a welcome injection of precision, control and braking power, the Tolman handles with the same old-school Gallic flair as the original, its acrobatic agility, fluid ride and endless throttle adjustability serving up engagement and entertainment regardless of speed or circumstance.
With prices starting at around £60,000, the exquisitely finished Tolman is still pricey, but it’s a snip compared with some of the mind-boggling figures being charged for machines that are increasingly ‘mod’ and less ‘resto’.
More importantly, the Tolman 205 GTi was the car that left me grinning the most in 2023, the silly smile plastered on my face from the moment I clapped eyes on it until long after I’d clambered out of the driver’s seat and handed back the keys.