Project Proton – meet the first Proton Wira to go on the Nurburgring and the two Dutch brothers that built it –

Think of the Nurburgring and you’ll probably envision a bunch of performance machines making their way around “The Green Hell.” However, have you ever seen a Proton Wira lapping the famous track? Well, that’s exactly what the Gravemade brothers from Dutch DIY Mechanics (DDM) have done, and it makes for a rather surreal (and patriotic) experience to see our national car alongside Porsches and other sports cars.

Called “Project Proton,” the “taxi-spec” Wira you see before you is the work of Jochem and Ruben Gravemade, who have lived in Malaysia – specifically Ampang – for seven years across two periods (1997-2001 and 2009-2011).

After returning to their home country in the Netherlands, the brothers’ love for our country made them come up with the unusual idea to make everybody at the Nurburging aware that Malaysia makes good cars too. With that, they went forward with the project, which would also serve as a love letter to the country that they used to call home.

The first challenge was finding the car itself, which were rather rare in left hand drive form. Speaking to, Jochem said the Wira was sold in small numbers in Germany from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, and as luck would have it, they managed to get a unit on July 5, 2019.

Unfortunately, the original 4G13 1.3 litre engine was “rusak,” as described by Jochem, and a second 4G13 had to be sourced. Even then, the second powerplant failed to work properly as the entire wiring was “a complete disaster.”

Another Wira was then purchased with a larger and more importantly, a working 4G91 1.5L engine, relegating the first car to become a donor of spare parts. Jochem also noted that both cars were obtained from first owners in Germany.

The refurbishment work was done without much hassle, given the easy availability of Mitsubishi Colts, Lancers and Galants there, although specific interior components like lights and trim pieces proved to be more of a challenge. Nonetheless, these parts were obtained and the project progressed smoothly, and with everything put together, the end result is rather neat.

The “track teksi was then given an appropriate paintjob and livery, complete with the iconic yellow and white badge on its front doors that has the script “DDM Dutch Mechanics Sdn Bhd” as well as “Teksi Ampang” as a tribute to their Malaysian hometown.

For track purposes, a set of white 16-inch multi-spoke wheels and sports tyres were fitted, along with better brakes. To make the Malaysian immersion complete, there’s even a McDonald’s VIP drive-thru sticker on the windshield, which was sent from Malaysia by one of the DDM’s fans.

Fast forward a year on the anniversary of the first car purchase (July 5, 2020), and Project Proton graced the Nurburgring for the first time, which was followed by another outing in August. While the car might look finished to most eyes, Jochem said they were not content with it looking like a teksi just from the outside, and plans to install a working taxi meter inside as well.

When asked how they managed to secure something so specific, we were told that the team actually met one of its followers on Instagram who shipped it to them. The story goes that the fan’s uncle in Penang had a full set of taxi paraphernalia – roof marker, taximeter and attached receipt printer – that he no longer had a use for, which was then bought by the team.

Once installed, the team plans to take the car out on track again at the end of August or early September, “charging” passengers in the process, or you know, applying a “flat rate” for a roughly 20 km ride around the track.

Quite a tale and a rather astonishing project, don’t you think? It certainly makes us proud to know that our national car made more than a decade ago still has fans as far as 6,000 km away. If you want to follow the DDM’s work on Project Proton, check out their YouTube and Instagram pages.

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