The car should always be the star in stories like this, but that doesn't stop us getting a bit misty eyed over those we hold dear in our hearts. There's nothing quite like the cold early weeks of the year (and Facebook) to remind me of those glorious days in early 2014 when I owned a Peugeot 306 Rallye. I'd wanted some kind of quick 306 since they'd launched, as six gears in a hatch seemed really cool to a very geeky child and I loved the idea of owning a car seemingly so much better than all the other hatchbacks. I wrote about a cheap one in December 2013, found a Rallye in January, got together all the money I had and bought a Cherry Red 306 without air-con or electric windows. For £1,700. Back then it felt like the coolest thing I'd ever done - to be fair, it probably still is..

What followed wasn't so cool - I crashed it. And still regret being overconfident and, er, underskilled. The irony of buying a rare cult car that surely couldn't get any cheaper because so many had been smashed up certainly wasn't lost on me. The Rallye in question was recovered and repaired, but I still yearn for another one

Not least because 306s, when they can be found, haven't skyrocketed in value like so many classic hot hatches. I bought mine because I loved the idea of a Rallye, but even to a 23-year-old chump, it was clear that good, undamaged ones (ha!) would have to appreciate at some point. Because they were - and still are - fantastic cars. A GTI-6 was still Shed money five years ago, and less than £5k even last year, while 106 Rallyes, 205 GTIs and everything else seemingly started at £10k. Which didn't make sense, given the 306 was also fast, good-looking, and great to drive. Now, however, the world is finally waking up to the Rallye's greatness. It's a blessing and a curse..

This one is so similar to the one I owned that even the numberplates aren't that far apart, but it looks far better than mine ever did. Or probably could have. Still with just 73,000 miles under those tremendous Cyclone wheels, this Rallye was bought by a dealer with the intention of it going into their own collection - a person of fine taste, clearly. Apparently the "unprecedented rise in values on most 90's and noughties hot hatchbacks" spurred on the purchase, but now it has to go, seemingly to free up some space. It looks some opportunity for the PHer with equally superb taste to the dealer and your humble scribe

Purchased from a Club Peugeot Sport member who owned a few Rallyes, this one is being sold with so many spares - a rear axle, seats, lights and more - that a van is advised to collect them all. Handy. It's also been treated to fresh filters, fluids and plugs, a new battery and a machine polish, which it looks great for. The pics make it look like the Rallye is riding a little low, but that might just be the rose-tinted specs skewing things. That the missing front decals are mentioned in the ad (they're coming back, fear not) suggests the seller really cares about this one. Hopefully they have a rear wiper lying around, too..

The price being asked is £7,950 which, at last, feels about right for a Rallye. Yes, it's no longer a sub-£2k bargain (don't remind me), but also isn't the £22,500 that a 205 GTI with similar mileage might cost. Maybe the 306 will appreciate some more, maybe it won't - try not to be too influenced by it. At £8k it feels just about affordable enough to own and enjoy as one of the 20th century's greatest hot hatches, as opposed to being mollycoddled like the more valuable alternatives must be. Take it from someone who owned a Rallye - not even one this nice - for all too short a time. They're awesome. With the money spare I'd already be on the 488-mile round trip with a mate and a rented van. Grab one, please, before the survivors are up at £14,995..

SPECIFICATION | PEUGEOT 306 RALLYE
**Engine 1,998cc 4-cyl **Transmission 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive **Power (hp [email protected],500rpm **Torque (lb ft [email protected],500rpm **MPG 30.1 **CO2 225g/km **First registered 1999 **Recorded mileage 73,000 **Price new £15,995 **Yours for £7,950
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