A couple of videos back, we introduced you to our little survivor car, namely our 1991 Proton 1.3 Aeroback. It was, and still is, a strange little slice of automotive curio. It should have been scrapped years ago or traded in as part of the scrappage scheme against a Hyundai i10 or something. It should not have survived for 27 years, and it should not have only clicked its odometer over to 23,000 miles. But it has, and it did, and we love it for it. It’s not a fast, fun, dynamic or revolutionary car. In fact, even when it was new it was old. The design is basically a first-generation Mitsubishi Lancer. Yes because it’s survived, we’re oddly smitten with it. It’s a wheeled time capsule. A nod back to wind-up windows, having to lock the doors yourself and steering powered by nothing but your own arms. We love it.
Despite all our affection, we never thought that proton would be a hit with the masses. Admittedly, there’s the odd bit of love for it. Normally from people who can’t remember the last time they saw one, that kind of ‘old car’ thing. On the whole though, we thought this was for us. Something that only we would enjoy. We were, quite simply, wrong.
The car went in for its MOT a couple of weeks back. It hadn’t been on the road for three years. We weren’t too worried though. We’d done everything we could see needed doing. The lights were checked and fixed, the steering rack got new boots, we gave the engine a top-to-bottom service, we ensured there was no structural rust and we were rewarded with a MOT pass. The only advisories came from the cracking, old tyres. But we’ll be changing them, so that’s fine.
With legality obtained, we hit the road and took some pictures. Standard stuff. The first pics were just of the car and a field. They got a few likes. Then, the next day, we headed down to Avonmouth, just down the road from N2G HQ. When we got there, we parked up outside the old Proton UK HQ building. It’s a sad sight, overgrown and forgotten, but still resplendent with livery and signage. Proton pulled out of the UK in 2014, and this garage has been empty ever since.
Anyway, we pulled up outside, took a picture and whacked it up on the old interwebs, as Ricard Rawlings would say. And then we broke the internet. That one tweet had over 7,500 retweets and reach of over half a million. For a Proton. Pardon?
It turns out Malaysia is still incredibly attached to, and consequently, proud of this car. There was the odd reply or retweet for the UK, sure, but honestly, it was 90% Malaysia. So a lot of it we couldn’t understand. But we think it was good.
It was all lovely though. We were always glad we saved this car, but now, we feel like we’re doing something really special. The UK motoring scene might not ‘get it’, but Malaysia does. And if a country can be that passionate about and proud of a car, it obviously was worth all the effort.