The proton has been in my family for a number of years, and it all started with one just like the picture. My granddad was the one to purchase it; Of course to follow the trend of other oldies, which included wearing a flat cap whilst driving. It had a 1.3 8v engine and acquired a dent on every panel. Mainly due to the failing eyesight and driving abilities of the protons owner, but even still we were all impressed at how tough it was. then after a few years he decided he needed more power and bought a L reg hatchback version with a 1.5 12v engine.
This model wasn't even given a proper name in the U.K, just GL. In its home country of Malaysia it was called the iswara, named after some native butterfly. But the model we had was like the equivalent to the XR3 or GTI of Malaysia. Over there it used to hold all the rally titles and it would be modified to the hilt.
Then the owner changed and it became my brothers. It was the second car he had owned and much faster than his 1.1 fiesta. We would go out in it together, down to Devon, out to the cities ranting it all the way. We used to race boy racers in it, and win. It was a cracking machine, reliable, fast and more secure than any other car in the car park. It wasn't because it had alarms, immobilisers or smash proof glass, but because it was so inconspicuous. One day we decided to go to Southampton, a pretty dodgy place on the best of days . It was until we returned to the car after a full days shopping and silliness that we discovered we had left it completely unlocked and no one had even taken a second look at. Okay maybe the drab brown interior isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it being almost invisible is a good quality if u want a car you don't want to worry about.
After two years of my brother trying to break it which included going down a ditch and driving through a tree it came to me and my wife to be her first car. Where it took some more abuse and was left on the sea front every day for over a year. Yet it never failed to start once. Eventually it got murdered by a vindictive neighbour who smashed the rear screen and unfortunately it would cost considerably more to fix it than the poor car was worth. It was a very sad day when I drove it to the scrappy, but I sent it of in style with a few hand brake turns.
Now I just thought id give some details on what one is like to drive.
Firstly the interior is slightly on the boring brown side, the speakers are rubbish, the steering wheel feels too large and there isn't a lot of head room. But with a chrome gear knob and tax holder it can be jazzed up slightly. Even better is what they do to these cars in Malaysia their motherland. I have seen them fitted with Mitsubishi evo interiors, this being a straight forward swap as the proton is practically 95% Mitsubishi.
Now The exterior is a bit dated but isn't that bad. Looks similar to a Volvo 440. Mine was in a Goldie purple metallic that really hid the dirt well. And to show you mean business fit a tow bar. It comes in handy when reversing into cavaliers.
Those are worst bits of the car and now for the saving graces.
The driving ability of the car is exceptionally surprising. It is very nifty through the bends, has plenty of mid range pace from the Japanese 12 valve engine to toy with most boy racers and not a bad throaty sound either. The gears fairly well arranged to get you cruising at 60mph in no time.
Now for the best bit. The cost! Not only is it very economical and cheap to insure but it's a bargain. you can pick one of these up with no more than 40000 on the clock for £100-£200 and most are owned by people who tend to look after them.
So if you have just passed your test and after your first banger or you are looking for a bargain buy than have a gander at one of these. Its cheap and cheerful and will never let you down.
This car is a joke! bad handling, weakly built and no joy to drive at all. When I was base in far-east, the company which I worked for bought 10 of these for their staff. The car is economical though but to maintain it in good condition is difficult. The fuel and temperature meter got faulty in two of the cars on the second week, the dealer blame it on the O.E.M supplier. The front bumper of one of the car hit another car and the bumper just came off and the impact was only when the car was doing less the 20 mph in the company ground. Driving this car on the motorway can be dangerous as it is not stable and if you were doing 70 to 80 mph it might get spun off if a truck or bus overtook as it is lightly built and there is not much weight to keep it steady while driving under windy condition.