One of the most well-loved car restomodding companies among enthusiasts is Singer Vehicle Design. It specialises in restoring classic Porsche 911s by injecting bespoke designs, all without ruining or losing the 911’s sense of originality.

The same principles have been adopted by Suriya Sankaran and his son, Dharveen Suriya, when establishing their own company – Dream Street Restoration (DSR). Their expertise isn’t so much as restoring imported icons, but rather local legends built on the bones of Proton’s C99 architecture, namely the Wira 1.8 EXi DOHC, Proton Putra, and of course, the one and only Satria GTi.

To some of you, this might not be the first time you’ve heard the name Suriya Sankaran. The Penang-born used to race in the Malaysian Rally Championship in the late 1990s with his Wira 1.8, going against established racers such as Karamjit Singh, Saladin Mazlan, Jimmy Low, and a few others.

Suriya was also part of the Honda Malaysia Racing Team before moving to Proton, serving as one of Proton R3’s core members from 2008 to 2012. Notable projects of his include the 145-hp Proton Satria Neo Lotus Racing and Satria Neo R3. These know-hows have since become the pillars of DSR.

The Proton Satria GTi you see in these pictures was made in the year 2000, and it’s the first completed restoration project by DSR. Suriya said the original car had actually been restored before, but was left to deteriorate for years.

Upon acquiring it, the first thing Suriya did was strip the car down to its bare metal and gave it a fresh coat of paint. He was particular about the paint brand and quality, so the materials were specifically chosen by him.

We wish we had some “before” photos to show how dingy the cabin was prior to the restoration, but as Suriya puts it, the interior was in shambles. All the broken parts were replaced, while salvageable components such as the roof lining and dashboard were thoroughly cleaned and reinstalled. Even the seat cushions were washed and wrapped with the same fabric upholstery provided by the very OEM which supplied the Recaro N-joy seats.

The same level of care and attention were given to the floor mats. The carpeting you see here was supplied by the same OEM company, which made it possible to meet same quality and design as the original ones, albeit with the added DSR stamp.

Now for the upgrades. The gear knob and alloy foot pedals were machined from a higher quality metal, the original steering wheel had been replaced by a three-spoke Momo Race steering wheel, and the car is equipped with a Nakamichi sound system.

At the heart of the car is the 4G93P 1.8 litre DOHC four-cylinder engine. Suriya had this sent to SS Motorsport Garage (operated by the same folks who have won the Merdeka Millenium Endurance and Sepang 1000km races multiple times) for blueprinting, a process which prepares, specifies and documents all of the engine’s tolerances, clearances, and materials.

Once that has been done, the 4G93P unit was thoroughly cleansed and reassembled by hand. One man, one engine, anyone? No modifications have been done here – everything about the engine was left as it were. There’s no use of lightweight flywheel, beefier clutch plate, revised bore and stroke, none of those. Only the cylinder walls were polished, and the crankshaft balanced.

The original five-speed manual gearbox continues its shifting duties here, but not before getting fully reworked. Worn parts were replaced, and the outer casing (as well as the engine head) were sandblasted and powder coated. Even the nuts and bolts were coated with cadmium for extra durability. An aluminium plate with DSR’s unique serial number (DSR-001-C99, in this case) was added to the throttle body, too.

Suriya said the benefit of installing this engine by hand was the level of tolerances it offered. Having precise control over this allowed DSR to create a smoother-running engine with a higher degree of operability, especially when compared to mass-produced engines. The odometer has also been reset for reasons which will be justified shortly.

As rebuilt engines go, this one will have to be ‘broken in’, meaning it will go through a change of oil after the first 1,000 km. If you’re planning on buying any C99-based car from DSR, the company will provide its details in full, including an A-to-Z documentation of the engine blueprint.

Once restorative works for the interior and engine bay were done, DSR began working on its suspension. Suriya got in touch with the original OEM supplier for these parts, which meant it was possible to recreate them to his liking. The bushings were manufactured from a higher quality material, but the bump stops were made in the Satria’s exact factory standards.

The springs, however, have been uprated to the Satria R3’s specifications. This not only lowered the hatch, but also helped mitigate rolling and pitching, offering increased stability when trashed around the bends at higher speeds. Grip is afforded by Continental MaxContact MC6 tyres (205/45 profile on all corners).

For the brakes, the front and rear calipers were treated with cadmium, hence the glimmery sheen. The old rotors were replaced with original units, and the iconic, original 16-inch six-spoke GTi wheels were equipped to square things off. These have been given a fresh coat of acrylic paint before being oven baked.

As the final measure, DSR had the vehicle detailed. The paintwork, headlights and tail lights, exterior trims, windows and windscreen have all been rejuvenated. Those GTi badges – unusually popular among thieves – have also been replaced, but the “Proton” badge on the tailgate was shrunken to match those that were sold in the UK. The DSR logo on top of it was exclusively airbrushed.

Our colleague Farid from the paultan.org BM team had the privilege of sampling this rebuilt icon first hand. He very nearly shed a tear, because so great was the emotional impact the car had on him during his teenage years. To many Malaysians, this was the dream performance hatch to have when it was launched back in 1998.

While touched at Suriya’s gesture, Farid got his macho game on, and slid into the N-joys. Feathering the throttle brought on the gratifying orchestra of induction, a feeling amplified by the fact that it’s all naturally made, and not synthetically produced and piped into the cabin like on most modern cars.

Whilst driving, he immediately noted how quick the throttle response felt, and how smoothly the revs climbed. The peppy engine wasn’t even hesitant to accelerate in fourth gear at 60-70 km/h – it just goes.

The steering and suspension were also tuned to provide maximum feedback, to the point where you could almost feel the surface of the road through the steering wheel. Again, this is completely mechanical, not something achieved via electronic wizardry.

You might have a more enjoyable time behind the wheel of say, a ridiculously powerful Mercedes-AMG A 45. Its outright pace is hardly rivalled by its peers, and it has got more computing elements onboard to manage braking and traction control systems – things that make you feel like a professional race car driver. But the sheer experience and satisfaction you get from driving a highly mechanical car like the Proton Satria GTi is something words alone cannot fully express.

Now, this particular Satria GTi has already been spoken for, but if you fancy yourself a fully restored Wira 1.8 EXi DOHC and the Putra, DSR is more than happy to accommodate. According to Suriya, they have the replacement parts ready for all three models, so the only thing left for you to do is give them a call, and see whether you’re able to swallow the asking price. Who knows, you might just be the owner of DSR-002-C99!

This piece has been translated from the original story written by our BM counterpart.