For many young adults, the notion of car ownership tends to be one that is just as anticipated as it is dreaded. After all, having a car introduces one to the prospect of personal mobility and the potential of being able to go anywhere at any time, as you please. However on the other side of the coin, car ownership can also present itself as a considerable financial commitment, what with the cost of purchasing a vehicle alongside its maintenance.
29-year-old M’sian man shares why he drives a 23-year-old Proton Saga
And back in 2020, a Malaysian man known as Ken had attracted quite a bit of attention locally after sharing his decision to inherit his grandfather’s 1999 Proton Saga as his daily runabout. At the time, he explained that his decision to do so was to avoid becoming saddled with debt from signing on to a car loan, despite being eligible to apply for one.
While he has faced some derision over his choice given the car’s age, Ken has remained steadfast to his commitment of steadily restoring the 23-year-old sedan and has now taken to sharing another update two-years later on. Now 29-years-old, this would mark close to his fifth year of driving the faithfully reliable Proton.
Recalling his circumstances as a fresh graduate in 2018, Ken said that some people had suggested he purchase a Perodua Myvi 1.3G Manual at RM44,300, which was the cheapest model from the Myvi range, as opposed to attempting to restore the Proton due to its poor condition. However as a fresh graduate with not a lot of money to spare, this would mean that he would have to apply for a loan to afford the Myvi.
Based upon calculations using a RM4,000 downpayment with an interest rate of 3.51% at the time, Ken said that he was looking at a monthly repayment of RM487 across a period of 9 years. And that’s before factoring other costs such as maintenance and insurance premiums.
Repairs on the Proton Saga have amounted to RM9,000
Given that fact, he decided to take up ownership of the Proton Saga instead, and steadily made improvements on the vehicle over time. To date, he has spent RM9,000 on the car, which includes repair and restorative works such as a new coat of paint, in addition to regular servicing.
“RM9000 is a big amount at one single sum but divided by average 4 years of usage, it will come up to RM2250 per year.
At RM2250 a year, the amount needed per month is only at RM187.50. It is a much lower commitment figure compared to the monthly installment needed for a car loan.” he said.
And while he acknowledges that it may not reflect well on his image to be a man of almost 30-years-old driving a 23-year-old car that was handed down in his family, Ken said that he would rather choose financial security over perceived image and status.
In speaking with Wau Post, Ken said that the car had been in his family since 2006, when his father had bought it for his grandfather to use, before the keys were handed over to him when his grandfather stopped driving. In terms of cost, the most expensive repair was having the car completely repainted, alongside having rusted body panels replaced, which set him back RM2,000. This was followed by an engine top overhaul costing RM900.
Previously, used-car dealers have offered him only a measly RM800 for the Proton Saga prior to its refurbishment in 2018. However, Ken estimates that given the extensive work completed on it, he may be able to sell it for RM4,000 now.
While it may be a little long in the tooth compared to its conventional counterparts, Ken’s Saga continues to soldier on without much of an issue. In fact, he adds that another friend of his who drives an even older 1991 Proton Saga 1.3S Megavalve has also reported similarly robust reliability, which goes to show that older cars have the potential to be decent, if not even great, daily-drivers.
If you want to buy an older car, what should you look out for?
He has also provided some advice and insight to those who are interested in looking into purchasing used cars:
- Check for accident damage, which can show in the likes of slight paint shade differences between body panels, suggesting a recent respray. He recommends viewing the car under good natural sunlight. However if the whole car had been resprayed, this might be difficult to see.
- Compare the paint from the exterior of the car to the inner seams of the panels, especially near the doors, bonnet or trunk. If there are differences, this could also suggest that the car was repainted after repairs were made.
- Check the headlamps and tail-lights of the car for brand moldings, such as the Bosch logo typically found on older Proton cars and the Koito, Ichikoh or Stanley logos on older Japanese cars. This means that the headlamps are original. Fake replacement units do not have these band mouldings. This tip works best with older cars.
- Try inspecting the engine bay and trunk area to determine if there are any irregularities such as dents, or asymmetry in terms of their panels. Any such discrepancies could suggest repair works were done.
- Uneven gaps in the fenders, hood, trunk and doors can also be a sign of accident.
However, Ken notes that he doesn’t wholeheartedly recommend buying an old car as he did to others, as the journey of having to repair and restore the vehicle can be challenging, especially for those without any experience dealing with vehicles. Those looking to understand the benefits of owning a new car may also refer to another post he made on the matter here.