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The search has ended – well, the Proton Search, that is – and the contest has settled on a winner. Former civil servant at the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA), Mohd Isa bin Ibrahim Shah, has bagged the grand prize of a new Proton Saga 1.3L Premium CVT.

The aim of the contest, which ran from March 8 to June 8, was to find the longest single-owned Proton, which was still in a running and relatively good condition – and carried the most memorable ownership story. For the 85-year-old Mohd Isa, his 1985 Proton Saga 1.3S manual was a reliable companion, both serving his family and aiding him in his charity work with indigenous communities until today.

Mohd Isa’s metallic blue car isn’t exactly a museum piece, but it’s still in quite good nick for a 31-year-old car – and what it lacks in spick-and-spanness, it more than makes up for in characterful patina. The exterior is decent, with the typical scratches and small paint bubbles that come with three decades of motoring.

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Inside, the aftermarket seat and steering wheel covers hide a cabin that’s certainly feeling its age, but is still holding up. Aside from the missing front window winders, everything appears to be in working order – even though there’s a makeshift wooden wiper stalk. All this despite the odometer reading over 510,000 km, on its original Mitsubishi-derived 4G13 1.3 litre Orion carbureted, eight-valve engine.

Aside from the new car, Mohd Isa also won a RM5,000 restoration on his Saga. Other consolation prize winners also receiving the restoration – plus RM1,000 in cash – include Abdul Razak bin Ahmad, Azizah binti Junid, Ishrat Banu binti Hassan, Mohd Jamil Chew bin Abdullah, Mustapa bin Kassim, Wong Sok Kim, Govindarajoo Periasamy, Mohd Tajuddin bin Idris, Samian bin Sawiyo and Thangaras Doraisamy.

The winners were treated to a plant tour, a walk through the research and development facilities – including the design studio and test labs – as well as a joyride in Proton cars on the test track.

Held in conjunction with the launch of the national carmaker’s “The New Proton” campaign, the three-month contest saw a total of 866 entries, containing Proton models spanning the years from 1985 to 2012 – although the winners all drive Saga models produced between 1985 and 1986. Aside from the entry form, participants were also required to submit a short written story or a video of the car.

Judges filtered through the entries according to the terms of the contest, then divided them into the year the cars were produced and the length of the ownership. Those entries were then shortlisted, and the judges visited the homes of the contestants to inspect the condition of the cars to verify their roadworthiness.

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“We were very encouraged by the overwhelming submissions from our loyal customers and supporters,” said deputy CEO Datuk Radzaif Mohamed. ” It is also heartening to see that the number of 1985 Sagas which are still plying our roads clearly show that our cars are very reliable and have plated a significant role in enriching the lives of these owners with their various recollections of their most precious moments with the cars.

“The contest brought many of the oldest single owners of Proton cars to share their wonderful stories which many Malaysians, I believe, are able to relate and connect with. This certainly resonates with our objective of producing affordable cars with the best value and quality for our customers.”