1996 Proton Wira 1.8 EXi DOHC fully restored by DSR!

As enthusiasts, car restorations are among the most satisfying things, ever. Dream Street Restorations, now more popularly known as DSR, has completed nearly a dozen full rebuilds, including the Proton Satria GTi (DSR-001) and Satria R3 (DSR-002).

This time, DSR got their hands on the legendary C99 Proton Wira 1.8 EXi DOHC Limited Edition from 1996, and it’s given the serial number DSR-009-C99, signifying the company’s ninth complete restoration. Like all projects DSR undertake, each car has its own story, and here’s how this one unfolds.

Sometime last year, DSR acquired this specific model from its original owner who purchased it back in 1996. Mind you, that was the first time the Wira has had a change of hands since rolling off the production line, which meant the bulk of it remained intact. Also because the car was quite rarely used, really.

However, restorative works couldn’t begin until a new owner comes along. Thankfully, one person finally did, and with enough budget to bring it back to former glory. The first order of business was to determine the paint colour, and for this, the original Majorca Black was specified.

The new owner also specifically wanted the Wira to be kept as close to factory spec as possible, so anything salvageable must be retained, repaired or refurbished. One of the most impressive things about this project was the immaculately preserved fabric seats, which only needed thorough cleaning by professional detailers. Even the door trims, Momo steering wheel, plastic trims and rear sunshade endured the passage of time. The Momo gear knob had disintegrated, though, so DSR made a custom replacement.

The bright wooden trim surrounding the cockpit was also made from real wood. This was a nice bonus at the time, because other Wira models had plastic trims. What also stood out was the fact that the spare wheel was never used – the three-digit serial number 236 on the tyre meant that it was manufactured on the 23rd week of 1996!

That’s quite the anomaly, we think, but there were more treasures to be unearthed. For instance, the engine oil catch pan, Yasaki brake fluid bottle, two fluid containers (one for engine oil, the other for distilled water) and tool kit were all genuine accessories that have been kept in the boot, as though frozen in time. Save for the tool kit, these relics are usually long gone.

The nostalgia with this is immense, and it’s exactly this sentiment the owner intends to preserve. On the outside, the Wira is as per original specification. The new paint, 14-inch five-spoke AAC wheels, mud flaps, amber turn signal indicators and huge “tiang gol” spoiler were original fittings, although the spoiler was a post-factory accessory by EON.

Note the 1.8 EXi DOHC badge on the front passenger side fender? Yeah, that too is according to factory specifications, as well as the non-saggy sleeved twin exhausts pipes. The only post-factory add-ons are the built-in projector fog lamps and front lip. Unlike DSR’s previous rebuilds, this Wira does not feature its airbrushed logo on the tailgate at the request of the new owner.

Once satisfied with the aesthetic rework, DSR began restorative works on the chassis, powertrain and driveline systems. The 1.8 litre 4G93P DOHC four-cylinder engine was given the company’s signature blueprinting treatment (outsourced to verified experts SS Motorsport Garage), a process which prepares, specifies and documents all of the engine’s tolerances, clearances, and materials.

The engine was stripped down to the last washer and thoroughly cleansed before being reassembled by hand. No modifications were made, so the stock flywheel, clutch plate and stroke ratios were 100% true to factory condition. Only the cylinder walls were polished, and the crankshaft optimally balanced. A nice red ignition coil cover and cables add contrast to the brand new engine bay.

As rebuilt engines go, this one will have to be ‘broken in’, meaning it will go through an oil change after the first 1,000 km. If you’re planning on buying any C99-based car from DSR, the company will provide its details in full, including an A-to-Z documentation of the engine blueprint.

Other components such as the five-speed manual transmission, suspension, hydraulic power steering, alternator and air-conditioning system were all restored as well. That’s not all – new ducts, fluid lines, hoses, battery housing and air filter box were also installed, creating a museum-grade spectacle. The only part that looks visibly aged is the manifold.

For the benefit of our younger readers, not all Wira 1.8 are limited edition models. Back in 1996, Proton introduced the regular 1.8 EXi variant (alongside the 1.3L, 1.5L and 1.6L models), but the C99 block was actually the 4G93 SOHC version, and this was paired with an automatic gearbox. It also wasn’t fitted with Recaro sports seats and Momo steering wheel/gear knob.

This 1.8 Limited Edition was a homologation special introduced in very limited quantities. Approximately 2,500 examples were made between 1995 and 1996, 2,450 of them finished in Majorca Black. The remaining 50 were barren RS (race spec) versions painted in white.

The naturally-aspirated Mitsubishi-sourced DOHC engine developed 140 PS and 167 Nm of torque. Those are some healthy output numbers even by today’s standards, and lest we forget, F1 legend Michael Schumacher once drove a rally-spec example belonging to Suriya Sankaran (proud founder of DSR) from the Pan Pacific Hotel in Sepang to the Cyberjaya Lodge, registering a top speed of 236 km/h.

However, the Wira LE wasn’t homologated to allow Proton to compete at the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) or World Rally Championship (WRC). Instead, it was created to allow privateer teams to compete in the FIA-sanctioned Group N rally championship.

FIA stipulated that the engine, gearbox and braking system used by competing Group N cars must be the same as their road-going counterparts, so the Wira LE was really beefed up right out of the gate. It had a more rigid frame, requiring only a simple rollcage and seatbelt harness to qualify for international rally championships.

If you’re baffled by the asking price for one of these on the used market, well, now you know why. It’s a truly special breed that’s only dwindling in numbers, so if you plan on preserving one of Proton’s finest creations, you know who to get in touch with.

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