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Remember the 1989 Proton 1.5 GL Black Knight Edition that won the 2021 Concours de l’Ordinare organised by UK classic car insurance provider Hagerty? That mint Saga (the Saga name was never used in the UK though) wowed the judges at last year’s Festival of the Unexceptional (FOTU), beating 49 other mundane but supremely well-kept cars to take the gong. Not your typical concours, this one.

It may not be a classic Ferrari worth millions of pounds, but Jon Coupland’s Proton is rarer than most Ferraris. According to the website How Many Left, which tracks the amount of vehicles left on UK roads, Coupland’s Black Knight is the only survivor of its kind.

Now, Proton didn’t sell that many of these in the UK to begin with, as just 201 units left dealer forecourts when new (Coupland’s unit is No.63). The Proton Knight Malaysians remember – well, at least some Malaysians of a certain vintage – is an Aeroback, but UK received a sedan.

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The UK-spec Black Knight came in the same metallic dark grey hue, but the sedan’s decals are different, incorporating knight-on-horse logos on the sides and rear. Those rather funny-looking emblems can also be found on the hubcaps, which are unique to this special edition along with the rubber bootlid spoiler.

Since the original owner (Coupland is the third) drove off G82 YVT from Newpark Motors back in the 80s, the Proton has covered a mere 13,000 miles (21,000 km), and it looks showroom fresh 33 years later.

This time capsule is now being displayed at the Royal Automobile Club’s Rotunda in London, a grand oval space that has hosted special cars such as the DB6 Aston Martin Vantage Volante (only 140 were made between 1966 and 1969), the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 (pre-WW2, participated in the 1933 Mille Miglia), a 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GT ‘E-Series’, the first production Land Rover Series One and the 2019 Mercedes W10 championship winning F1 car, among other significant machinery.

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Next up, a Malaysian-made 1989 Proton Saga with the registration number G82 YVT. According to the RAC’s standee, the first Proton cars arrived in the UK in 1989 and quickly found a market among price-conscious buyers. The Malaysian carmaker withdrew from the UK market in 2014.

RAC’s description of FOTU brings a chuckle. “FOTU is the annual gathering and celebration of mundane motors from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s: cars that were considered little more than street furniture and have now faded in our memories – the sort of cars that carried us to shops, work, school, or perhaps it was the local minicab or the car you learnt to drive in,” it says. That’s true for the original Saga in Malaysia as well.

“The cars of FOTU are decidedly Austin Maestro rather than Aston Martin. However, the condition of those cars on display at the Concours de l’Ordinare – through the pride and passion displayed by their owners – easily matches that of much more prestigious marques,” the club added. We tip our hats to you, Jon.

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A humble Proton Saga taking residence, albeit temporary, in such hallowed automotive ground is newsworthy, but guess what, this isn’t the first time Proton has been to the RAC’s grand old building in Pall Mall. This writer was there to witness the first time that happened, although we didn’t drive the Proton electric cars into the Rotunda! Proton EVs? Yes, those things existed over a decade ago.

I’m talking about the prize giving gala dinner of the 2011 RAC Future Car Challenge, a 92 km “race” from the south coast of England to London, participated by the best electric-powered and alternative fuel green vehicles from that time. Proton won a couple of awards and shared the stage with one Gordon Murray.

Since then, I’ve bought and sold one of the participating cars, the entire field of “future cars” from 2011 have become obsolete hunks of metal and a man called Donald Trump became the unlikeliest president of the USA. Strange things. If you find all this intriguing, go on and read more about Proton’s EVs and the RAC Future Car Challenge. Also, watch the video below and be wowed by Jon Coupland’s immaculate, and now famous, 1989 Saga.