In this Raya holiday, I had a chance to reunite with my old banger which I had ditched years ago. It is a Proton Saga year 2004, which coded LMST by Proton internal designation. I bought it in 2005 (a 2004 model though) for RM34,000 before Proton decided to kill its residual value by slashing the price to RM27,000 in the same year. It was because of that this car became my junk as it was impossible to sell it without making a big loss in terms of loan balance vs resale price.
For those who is accustomed only to modern motoring, Saga LMST is the reincarnation of the first-gen Saga from 1985, albeit in a slightly newer Aeroback body. To cut the story short, a major facelift came in 2003 which sees the smoked plastic headlamp, "sporty" bumper, new rear light and bigger and sounder exhaust made an external appearance.
Interior change is even more major, with an all-new item replacing the old Saga cabin. The dashboard is a hybrid inspiration of Audi TT and Lotus M250, albeit in a cheapen one-piece affair. In fact, it previews the forthcoming Proton Gen2 cabin at that time. Of course, to trim the cost, all the perceived aluminium part from those inspired model is once-piece plastic, and not even painted. Door trim is a one-piece panel, glovebox and lock knob are "racing type" (whatever they meant).
Taking a seat in the cabin, typical to Proton at that time, the seat is low mounted and comfortable indeed. This is prior to the time when people start jacking up their seat and making their car MPV-like. The good seating, steering and gearknob interaction was spoilt by the useless headrest, which is a holed item that lend 0% support to your neck.
Driving it, it reminds you of the good old days of a car. It reminds you that car is a clunking mechanical things. You can feel the road bump and its effect on the car by squeaking noise, you can know the passing things through noise intrusion, and you'll know the car is working when you feel each gear change and steering movement. Each suspension movement can be feel and heard. Handling is softly-suspended, and it is quite comfortable.
The aircond is however weak. The temperature sensor is sensitive (or the engine is hot) as it always go to the fourth bar in its scale gauge and always scared the hell out of me. Top speed is environment depended. During the cold morning, I blasted it to 170 km/h every single day. This is interesting, the car float at 120 km/h, and became quiet at 130 km/h, get "downforce" at 160 km/h but the turbulence start "menampar" the rear tailgate glass before settling into a stable mode near 170 km/h. Things change during the hot ambient, the car gets asthmatic even at 130 km/h and can't go significantly faster. Temperature gauge tend to rise too.
In my previous five years of ownership, the car has seen past its best. Combined with the two years I ditched it, total mileage accumulated is already approaching 200,000km. Nowadays, it serves different purpose, from a daily ride to weekend "kebun" tools. It has become rougher, squeaking and rattling more, but still surviving....car in its purest form.