In a charming and heartfelt tribute to Malaysia – and to a large part Malaysia’s taxis – two Dutch brothers Jochem and Ruben Gravemade, have recreated with staggering detail, a Wira Teksi which has now taken on the legendary Nurburgring Circuit in Germany.
Having spent around 7 years in Malaysia in the past, Jochem and Ruben, founders of the automotive-based Dutch DIY Mechanics (DDM) Youtube channel, decided it’ll be a cool project to pay homage to the many taxis that ferried them around Kuala Lumpur during their time here. However, the car they would build will be prepped for stints on the hallowed “Green Hell” of Germany, which is normally reserved for the likes of high-performance road cars and purpose-built racecars.
As far as ideas go, this is as fresh and heartwarming as they get for any petrolhead in Malaysia.
Dubbed the Project Proton, the roughly 8 part video series (so far) documents how the brothers acquired not one but two units of the Wira – no easy feat as Protons were sold in limited numbers in Europe in the late 90s and early-2000s. The first unit, a 1.3L left-hand drive sedan would prove to be a dud, with an engine that barely ran. The electrical wiring had also seen better days.
They then sourced another (4G13) 1.3L unit which proved to be useless as well. The powertrain finally came together with the purchase of a second car with a working (4G15) 1.5L engine. The first car by now being used just for parts. Once the engine was running, the brothers set about getting the final touches of the car – this involved refreshing other wear and tear parts, changing the rims and upgrading the brakes, and fitting racing seats to handle the stresses of the ‘Ring’.
Of course, the coolest part of the project was wrapping the car in the familiar white and red colours of our Malaysian taxis and adding the all-important 'Teksi' badge on the front doors. In this case, printed with the letters “Teksi Ampang” as a homage to their hometown in Malaysia, and company registration “DDM Dutch Mechanics SDN BHD”.
The car even has a McDonalds Drive-Thru sticker – how is that for detail!
However, the brothers say the project isn’t done, because in addition to the “Kereta Sewa” sign (on the roof) common to most older taxis in Malaysia, the duo intent to fit a fully functioning taxi meter to fully complete the look and functionality of their Wira Teksi. Jochem and Ruben sourced these parts from a local fan, named Faiz who had access to these unique items and shipped it to the Netherlands.
The brother’s hope to ‘charge’ people, using the meter, for rides around the ring. It’s anyone’s guess if it ticks over in RM or Euro.
The Proton Wira Teksi has since seen two stints on the Nurburgring and has lived to tell quite a story. While it might not be as fast as other cars we normally see tearing down the track, the novelty of having our much loved Malaysian icon on those hallowed grounds, and more importantly – to know that Malaysia had such a positive effect on Jochem and Ruben is a story in itself.