Proton is 23 today. Once the pride of Malaysians, especially those in the lower income bracket, our national car has today become an embarrassment and, to some, an obstacle.
But in the 90s, Sagas were hitting foreign streets from Singapore to London, and there was even a time when left-hand drive Malaysian-made cars were being considered for the US.
My first Proton was a brand new Saga hatchback. I traded in my 7th-hand RX-7 for the brand new Proton. Sold it off for the more spacious and sporty Aeroback in 93. When NST, in a bid to tighten its belt, offered to sell its company cars to the senior executives driving them, I decided to buy the Perdana. The Aeroback and the Perdana are still serving us faithfully to this day.
Proton's charge on the world auto arena peaked when it bought MV Agusta, the Italian bike maker (after having acquired the Lotus earlier). It was planning to manufacture one of the cheapest cars in the world using bike engines.
And then Mr Badawi took over as Prime Minister ....
Anyway, Happy Birthday Proton. The company's pioneers are celebrating at Kelab Shah Alam at 8.30 tonight. There's a blog for the pioneers, here.Photos from top to bottom:
Proton logo now
Proton UK in the 80s
Proton police cars in the UK
The Jumbuck in Australia
Proton logo then