Remember those opening scenes from Baywatch with Pamela Anderson’s slow-mo running sequence down the beach in her one-piece? Of course you do. That feeling of lust and desirability you felt in front of the television screen are the exact same emotions felt when a Proton Satria GTi drove by over two decades ago.
Today, what does Pamela and the iconic Proton have in common? On a good day, they’ll still make you do a double take in passing.
Any stark differences between the duo? Certainly…
You still can’t afford one of them. No points for guessing which.
The Satria GTi was, and still is, the most lust-worthy and desirable hot hatch from the carmaker. The odds of coming across an unmolested unit is up there with one of the Kardashians leaving the limelight. Used units of the Satria GTi hover around the RM20,000 mark and pricing is highly dependent on the condition; most of which the provenance is questionable. Acquiring a bone-stock unit is akin to sourcing unobtanium.
Why is the hatch such a hot commodity? Simply put, it was Proton at its peak. Apart from the Midas touch of Lotus, the 138hp 1.8-litre Mitsubishi-sourced 4G93P engine and five-speed manual transmission lent it proper hot hatch credentials to take on the established players.
Proton’s stake in Lotus meant the black art of suspension-tuning from Hethel was bestowed upon the unassuming hatch. They tinkered with the steering and brakes as well.
Anything that Lotus touches turns to magic… or gold. Remember the Lotus Carlton based on a Vauxhall Carlton that was exciting as a head of cabbage? It was the default getaway car for people that made illegal withdrawals from banks in the UK. Yeah, bank robbers loved them due to their sheer speed and handling.
The nimble hatch even did a number on Richard Hammond, leaving a lasting impression on the former Top gear host as he placed it in the crosshairs of a Peugeot 206 GTi. Having evaded the snipes of the French, he described it as “loud, brash and raucous in every inch of a hot hatch in the traditional sense.”
While the Satria GTi will remain an eternal source of pride for the marque and Malaysians alike, we came across a restored 2001 Satria GTi with a price tag that would raise some eyebrows as much as it would coolant temperatures at RM98,000 nett.
H&L Classics tends to dabble in machinery of the Deutsch derivative, primarily the three-pointed star, but took on some local flavour for a change.
They’ve claimed the restoration took over a year and almost every aspect of the vehicle was replaced or refurbished.
We’re not going to touch on the extensive work carried out. Granted, it’s substantial and comprehensive as fluffed out on their Facebook post which you can read below.
𝗙𝗢𝗥 𝗦𝗔𝗟𝗘: 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝟮𝟬𝟬𝟭 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗼𝗻 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗮 𝗚𝗧𝗶 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗲𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗘𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 Video review:...
Posted by H&L Classics on Saturday, 17 April 2021
However, some of the work does once again raise an eyebrow or two.
The term blueprinting is among the most misused terms in the automotive world; second only to coupe applied to four-door vehicles. Here, the engine has undergone a complete overhaul and blueprinting. According to the post, “engine blueprinting is more than just a rebuild; it involves taking apart every single component, inspecting it, balancing, and adjusting it to ensure it perfectly matches the manufacturer’s specifications.”
You can read up about blueprinting here and why the term tends to be misunderstood or wrongly applied.
Nonetheless, an overhauled engine will undoubtedly mean stress-free motoring for another 200,000km or more. Not to nitpick but that battery terminal cover being held on with a cable tie doesn't exactly scream "attention to detail."
As the engine was being overhauled, the body was stripped to a shell and all rust treated. A new lick of the iconic GTi silver was reapplied. They’ve claimed to replace the front headlights, fog lights and side indicators with the original Bosch units but from the photos, the fitment seems to have been neglected. You can clearly catch this in the front with the headlights and corner indicators.
One of the first acts of ownership for a sporty car is to always replace the wheels. Therefore, finding a GTi with the original rollers can test your patience and hairline. Fortunately, the one here has the six-spoke rims that’ve been refurbished and powder-coated.
You’ve got to feel special in a hot hatch and the GTi did tickle that fancy well. Part of refurbishment includes the iconic Recaro Njoys being padded and reupholstered with identical fabric to the original. Carpets were cleaned and the floor mats are new. Even the rear windscreen is new. Nonetheless, that badly scratched up gear knob is hard to ignore.
A unicorn of our times, the Clarion head unit was repaired and is fully functional. There’s even a special edition Proton Satria GTi “Millennium Collection” cassette tape with tunes courtesy of Sheila Majid, KRU and even Geri Halliwell of Spice Girls fame; guaranteed to induce a sense of nostalgia like it’s the noughties.
Three things are beyond question here; them being that the Satria GTI is bound for future classic status, the amount of effort that’s gone into this particular restoration and this probably being the best-condition GTi in the world.
That begs the question though; is the car already deserving of said status with a price like this?
Granted, even the more obscure JDM and Euro performance models are experiencing a hike in drug abuse among owners looking to sell. We kid, we kid. It’s a “willing buyer, willing seller” market.
For what’s arguably the most pristine condition GTi around, is RM98,000 a fair trade given some of the shortcomings highlighted here and the availability of other JDM heroes of that bygone era for much less money?