Today, we meet with Stirling. Stirling owns a Peugeot 106 Si in Ontario, Canada.
Stirling, why this model ?
- My desire to own a Peugeot 106 Si (GTI) started when I saw an old Top Gear episode "Best Handling Car Test". The cars in this episode were:
BMW E36 M3
VW Golf VR6
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R
You may be as surprised as I was to hear Jeremy Clarkson declare the Pug the second-best handling car in the world after the Ferrari 550, and ahead of the Lotus Elise! When he again declared it one of the 100 Greatest Cars the urge to obtain one was only reinforced.
How is the rule in Canada ?
- In Canada we can personally import cars from non-NAFTA countries as long as they are at least 15 years old.
How did you find it ?
- I've bought several cars through the auctions in Japan and imported them to my home in Canada: a couple BMWs, three Mercedes' and a Porsche 944 Turbo S. So I was familiar with the process and knew about the stock of low mileage older vehicles, many with left-hand drive (Japan is a RHD market), available at reasonable cost. In addition to monitoring the auction listings for German cars I began to keep an eye on Peugeots. Fortunately the 106 S16 (the GTI is known as the S16 in most markets outside of the U.K.) was in fairly strong supply in Japan, almost always in LHD configuration.
Cars that go through the Japan auctions are graded on a scale of 1-6, with 5 and up being reserved for nearly new or new vehicles. Most cars in the 15-20 year-old range are rated 3.5 or 4.0. As I've discovered the hard way, you want to stay away from anything lower than 3.5. When a 106 S16 came up in December 2013 with a 4.5 rating, in the colour I wanted, and only 85,000 kms on the odometer I jumped on it.
My broker Scott Bower at JapanCarDirect.com was very helpful as usual, taking care of bidding, transporting the car to port in Japan, and then shipping it to Canada. Along with Al at Thompson Logistics they shipped the car to a local European shop in my hometown. The whole process from bidding to delivery took about 3 months with the car arriving in early spring 2014. The biggest determinant of the speed of delivery is whether or not there is an open spot on a ship that is headed for Vancouver.
The Peugeot sat for some time at my mechanic's. I had also bought a 1997 BMW L7 at about the same time and I asked him to make that vehicle the priority. Once he finished up with the L7 he turned his attention to the 106. It was in excellent condition. He made a short list of parts he couldn't source locally - pads and rotors - which I ordered on the internet. I've dealt with two Peugeot parts suppliers from the U.K. (French Car Parts and 106parts.com) and have been very happy with both of them. Delivery to Canada is usually 4 business days.
How did you manage all the forms ?
- Once the car was certified as mechanically fit I visited my local Service Ontario licencing office with the requisite paperwork (Canada Customs Form 1, Japanese ownership, translation of Japanese ownership, bill of sale, etc.) along with a letter from the mechanic confirming the VIN on the paperwork matched the VIN on the car. The staff at this Service Ontario location are generally well-versed in registering privately imported vehicles, which is a blessing because the less that they have to interact with their head office the smoother these things tend to go.
How do you like it ?
- With the car licenced for about 4 months now I can say it is an exceptional runabout. My wife loves it and the handling really is terrific. The build quality I would rate as better than Japanese cars I've driven but not as good as the Germans. The verdict is still out on reliability though. I did have a head gasket issue that seems to have been mostly fixed with a can of Bars Stop Leak.
Do you have some other cars ?
- We have six other vehicles currently: four BMWs and 2 Mercedes. The Peugeot gets used the most. It is the easiest on gas, the simplest to whip around town, and in some situations the most fun to drive. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to own the "Second best handling car in the world (1999)".
For more information, you can meet Stirling on the French Cars In America forum.