After 14 illuminating months, it could be time for PetrolBlog to part company with the bedazzling Proton 1.5 SE Aeroback. Yes, the one with the fancy aftermarket frontblende. For balance, it's also got a radiant heckblende. It's the ‘Gold Blende’ of Protons.
The Aeroback – which is Proton speak for hatchback – has been used sparingly since joining the PetrolBlog fleet in October 2021. A trip to the Haynes breakfast club in November 2021, a classic run to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, before returning to Haynes last weekend. There, thousands* of car enthusiasts looked on with wonder as the Proton wafted** into the 1990s paddock. Look how it, er, blendes in with the neighbouring Lotus Elise and Mazda MX-5.
Still want that lightweight and engaging sports car? Yeah, probably.
It's not as minty-fresh as Jon ‘Grandmaster Proton’ Coupland's immaculate 1.5 GL Black Knight. It isn't even black; in certain lights you'll discover that it's finished in a rather fetching shade of metallic green. As the ‘luxurious’ SE model, it features ‘Braemar’ velour upholstery, which, as Vanessa Carlton will tell you, is superior to leather.
Light My Fire
But that's not all, because as a former dealer demonstrator for Westbrook Cars in Canterbury (yes, it's still wearing its original plates), the car has got air-con. It says AIR CONDITIONED on the back, so the driver behind knows that you're enjoying the velour in ice-cold comfort.
For a budget car from a budget brand, the Proton packs a surprising list of bells and whistles. Electric windows, tinted-glass, tilt-and-slide sunroof, central locking, electrically adjustable door mirrors, Blaupunkt ‘Sidney’ radio-cassette, wraparound three-piece tailgate spoiler, digital clock and fully reclining seats are just some of the goodies.
Actually, that's about the extent of it, but do you get a factory-fitted heckblende and an aftermarket frontblende from Malaysia. People love the frontblende; this chap couldn't get enough of it.
Put A Light On Me
You'll note that it's sporting a set of wheel trims from the GL model; the three-spoke alloy wheel-style trims have a habit of falling off. Truth be told, the car looks better on the poverty-spec trims; it also looks fabulous without them. Black steelies for the win, etc.
The 1.5-litre triple-valve engine has covered 96,000 miles, but based on the paintwork and condition of the interior, you'd swear it had done 9600. It's not perfect, but finding imperfections isn't easy. If the body is an 8.5 or 9 out of 10, the interior is a 9.5 or 10.
It passed the last MOT in December 2022 at the second time of asking, with around £450 spent on a lower ball joint, headlight adjustment, a pair of rear brake cylinders and new front brake pads. The latter was just an advisory, but it made sense to get them done at the same time.
The car will come with a folder of history, the original handbooks and enough SE wheel trims for two and a half Protons.
It's a reluctant sale, hence the tentative listing on the blog before it hits the open market. A price of £1395 seems reasonable given the condition and recent (clean) MOT, not to mention the frontblende, which is worth the asking price alone. Email majorgav [at] petrolblog.com if fancy experiencing this blende of Japanese technology and Malaysian style.
Edit: Proton now for sale on Car & Classic.
*A dozen at best.
**It doesn't waft.
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