The 9th of July is the birthday of Malaysia’s first car, the Proton Saga. In 2022, the company proudly celebrated its 37th birthday as it continues to put thousands of drivers in Malaysia and overseas on the road.
With such a long and storied history, there are many facts about PROTON’s legend that you may not have known about so in conjunction with its birthday and because it is on 9 July, here are nine fun facts about the Proton Saga!
The Proton Saga was launched on 9 July 1985. However, not many know the date was chosen so that it coincided with the birthday of the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who is also credited as the founder of PROTON.
The Saga name was selected from a contest. The “Name the National Car Contest” received 102,823 entries. While Saga is taken from the hard red seed of the Saga tree, it was also an acronym for Safety, Achievement, Greatness, and Ability.
Proton Saga prototype
36 prototypes were developed before the first Proton Saga was approved by both Proton and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) in 1984.
1.95 million units of the Proton Saga has been sold since 1985, making it the best-selling car in Malaysian automotive history.
If you lined up the 1.95 million units of Proton Saga ever sold end to end, the chain would cover a distance of over 8,000km. Equivalent to the distance between Malaysia and Ukraine.
The Proton Saga has been exported to a total of 28 countries worldwide. Bangladesh was the first export market in 1986 and this was followed by the United Kingdom in 1989.
The Proton Saga is PROTON’s most popular export model with over 59,000 units sold.
The Proton Saga has bagged over 22 awards from various media channels since 1988. It was also involved in motorsports soon after it was launched. Its most recent success was finishing second in the 2019 Sepang 1000km race that was won by the Proton Iriz that was also run by R3, Proton’s racing division.
A red Proton Saga was the first official car to be driven over the Penang Bridge. The driver of the car was Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.