The Peugeot 305 was introduced by Peugeot to replace the long-running 404 model, and many speculated it would be called a 4xx model, as Peugeot already had the 304 and 504. Confusion reigned among the automotive press at the time it was unveiled in November 1977 as to why the car was not called a 405, as it was a medium-sized family car that was quite large for the 3xx badge, front-wheel-drive and offered excellent space, particularly in the rear.
At launch, the car was available as a four-door saloon with a choice of either 1,290cc (64bhp) or 1,472cc (73bhp) engines. The 1.3 was badged GL or GR, and the 1.5 carried the SR badging. A diesel model followed, featuring a 1,548cc aluminium-block unit with Bosch injector pump that put out 49bhp. Sportier models followed in 1980, giving 88bhp and then 103bhp. All models drove through a four-speed manual gearbox that was praised for its precise changes. The model was facelifted in 1982, gaining the moniker ‘series 2’ and had a variety of changes under the skin as well, including improvements to the front suspension and steering, new dashboard layout and modifications to the sub-frame to allow Peugeot’s next generation XU engines with five-speed gearboxes to be accommodated. Two more body styles were offered alongside the saloon; a five-door Estate and a 3-door Panel Van variant. The 305 won What Car?’s Car of the Year award in 1979. Engines eventually grew to 1.9 litres at the top end in both petrol and diesel variants.
The 305 was styled by Pininfarina and featured front and rear crumple zones, protected (but fibre glass) fuel tank and side impact protection. The 305 estate variant introduced the fully independent rear suspension using trailing arms, that offered a more compact design and lesser intrusion into the boot space. This suspension design continues to this day and was also present in the celebrated 205 hatch.
The example we have here is a 1987 facelifted model. It’s a 1,472cc petrol engine variant with a four-speed manual gearbox. The car is owned by Bimal Fernando who purchased it in September 2016. Bimal was looking for a larger saloon car. His car ownership history prior to the 305 consisted of a VW Beetle and an Austin 1100 (featured in Motor in September 2008). “We are not getting any younger” he says. “A 2-door vehicle is not that practical at our age” he laughs. “I was really looking for a four-door family classic and came across this from a contact at Car Mart”. The car had just been painted and was originally belonged to a Government organisation in the Kandy area since purchase in 1987! The body was in excellent condition, with no rust and hardly any issues. “Whoever used this car has taken very good care of it, especially in the custody of a state agency” says Bimal. “It’s a challenge for me to maintain in that same condition” he adds.
Bimal has done a few tasteful improvements to the car. “I got down a set of original 305 driving lamps from England and also replaced all the cooling system hoses with the original Peugeot-branded hoses”. He looks after her with original parts only, and the car has never let him down. “It has given me very good service” he says. “My sister in law’s family visited us from UK recently and we drove to Trincomalee and back in this car”. It has been driven to Nuwara Eliya and on the Southern Highway with no problems at all. “I am very happy with the car” he smiles. “I have not cut corners in maintaining this car”.
Bimal’s wife drives the 305 as well, and he proudly proclaims that she likes the car too. “She drove the Habarana - Trincomalee leg of our recent trip, no problems at all”. Bimal estimates he has added around 6,000 kilometres to the odometer since purchasing the car.
The seat covers are not original, as Bimal chose to put covers to protect the original seat fabric. However, he went to great pains on a visit to Singapore trying to find a fabric that would be as close a match as possible to the original, and luckily found a fabric that was a very close match. Otherwise, it’s a matter of normal servicing and maintenance. The engine has been tuned by a Peugeot specialist who is based in Seeduwa and Bimal is very satisfied with his work. Bimal also keeps the Haynes repair manual for the model, and has the original car manual too.
We step aboard the car as Bimal prepares to drive us to our photoshoot location. The engine starts immediately and settles to a smooth idle, while the AC cools us quickly in the blazing heat. There is ample space in the rear seat and the car feels in fine fettle. A glance at the odometer has us doing a double-take, the mileage is 332,000km! Bimal smiles and says that the car has undergone an engine overhaul at the 200,000km mark at Carmart, but otherwise is in great condition. His car has front headrests, which some of the model did not come with, and the dashboard is in good nick – the dashboards of these cars were known to crack as they were not tropicalized. Another pain point for owners was the fibreglass fuel tank, which necessitated careful driving on rough roads as a bad knock could crack the fibreglass and leave you out of fuel!
500,000kms? Bring it on, then!
In 2013, the Telegraph covered the story of Mark Wyatt’s 500,000km 305 Estate. Running a 1.9L diesel engine, the car, affectionately referred to as “the Limo” had covered over 500,000 kilometres at the time, and was still running regular 650-mile round trip commutes between France, where Mark lives, and the United Kingdom. Oh, and it was returning 60 miles per gallon – that’s 25 kilometres per litre! The diesel engine has never been overhauled – the head was removed a few years back for a customary check but nothing required attention. Mark attributes the success to the fact that the car is regularly run (it’s his daily driver after all), and the climate where he lives does not expose the car to too much salt – either coastal or road salt.